Now that baseball season is over, I like to cut back on the number of posts I write for this TTFB. Baseball, at least for me, takes place only when there are players on the field playing the game. This is why I haven’t gathered any thoughts since Madison Bumgarner shut down the Royals back in October.
But I can’t remain silent about Giancarlo Stanton signing a 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins.
I thought that the days of the mega-contract were over in baseball. One need look no further than Alex Rodriguez to understand why. He still has a few more years — and tens of millions of dollars — owed to him, and the Yankees want nothing to do with him. Baseball itself wants nothing to do with him. But A-Rod is going to collect, no matter what anyone thinks about it.
Albert Pujols came along after the A-Rod signing and gathered up $240 million worth of financial security. But here’s the thing: his numbers have been in decline over the past three years, while his salary has continued to climb. In St. Louis, Pujols was a perennial All-Star/Gold Glove winner/Silver Slugger recipient/MVP candidate/.300 hitter/ OPS machine. But after three years in Los Angeles, Pujols hasn’t come close to earning his money. Case in point: Pujols made 46 dollars this past season for every dollar paid to Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics. But Donaldson was an All-Star, and Pujols was not. Donalson finished in the top 10 of the AL MVP voting, and Pujols barely registered in the balloting. And Donaldson doesn’t have an additional 10 years’ worth of a “personal services contract” after his playing days are over. The buyer’s remorse in California must be almost as severe as the drought has been.
The Miami Marlins have now disregarded these warning signs by throwing 13 years and $325 million at Giancarlo Stanton. That’s a staggering amount of commitment, in terms of both years and money. And we aren’t talking about the Yankees or the Dodgers giving this up, either. These are the Miami Marlins we’re talking about here. It makes no sense at all.
Miami has had a team in the NFL since the 1960s and an NBA team since 1988. Both the Dolphins and the Heat are legitimate franchises in their respective sports. But as recently as 1991, the baseball team that played in Miami played not in the National League, but in the Florida State League, as in A-level baseball. If the one-year anomaly of the 1979 Miami Amigos is excluded, Miami did not field anything higher than a A-level baseball team from 1960 until the Marlins made their debut in 1993. Simply put, there is no major league tradition to speak of in Miami.
Some of this is certainly sour grapes from a Cubs fan, jealous of the two titles the Marlins have won thus far. Nobody has to make that claim because I just made it myself. But there’s more to it than that. A lot more, actually.
On April 15 of this past season — Jackie Robinson Day — I went to my first ballgame at Marlins Park in Miami. It’s new and modern, with facilities Cubs fans can only dream about: Party rooms, a retractable roof, the bobblehead museum, all of it. But I was there on a half-price night, and the stadium was so empty the entire upper deck was closed. Attendance was not quite 20,000 that night, and my family and I had one of the sections in the outfield entirely to ourselves. And remember that Miami is the last city on earth where inclement weather would keep fans away from the ballpark.
So, it just doesn’t add up to me. The Marlins don’t have the fan base to support the Giancarlo Stanton contract, at least not that I can see. Committing this much money to one player makes him the face of the franchise — it even makes him into the franchise — but where do they go to put other players around him on the field?
I know there are other revenue streams besides attendance, and the Marlins had better have a few of those handy into the foreseeable future. They’ll surely need them over the length of this deal.