Here’s Hoping Giancarlo Stantan Sticks It to the Marlins in Arbitration
I read a post on mlbtraderumors.com today about Giancarlo Stanton‘s upcoming arbitration this off-season, and I was again reminded just how stingy and petty the Marlins are. As I’m sure you are aware, Stanton is one of the game’s brightest young stars. However, he’s been successfully shafted by the Marlins on his pay at every opportunity.
The Marlins delayed bringing him up in 2010 just long enough to prevent him from becoming arbitration-eligible until this off-season. That’s fair enough — many teams hold off on bringing up their best young prospects long enough to get an extra inexpensive year out of them.
Instead, what’s really off-putting is how little the Marlins have paid Stanton in spite of his terrific major league performance. After blasting 22 home runs in only 396 plate appearances as a rookie in 2010 and posting an .833 OPS, the Marlins gave Stanton a “raise” to $416,000, which was just $2,000 more than the major league minimum wage for 2011.
As a sophomore, Stanton hit 34 HRs and posted an .893 OPS. After the season, the Marlins renewed his contract for 2012 at $480,000, that year’s major league minimum. The Marlins renewed all of their arbitration-ineligible players for that amount, but in Stanton’s case, at least, it was grossly unfair not to recognize his sensational major league performance for two years running.
In 2012, despite injuries that limited him to 123 games played, Stanton had a fantastic season, belting 37 HRs in only 501 plate appearances, leading the NL in slugging percentage at .608 and posting a .969 OPS. For this performance, the Marlins increased Stanton’s salary to $537,000 in 2013, which was still only $47,000 more than the year’s major league minimum.
Obviously, Stanton wasn’t going to bed hungry in those years, and he’s good enough he’ll eventually get paid whether the Marlins like it or not. Even so, the Marlins’ level of frugality is disturbing and makes it highly unlikely that they’ll field a competitive team in the near future. What young star would want to play for a club that makes it a point to pay the absolute minimum and routinely dumps well-paid players, at least once said young star is free to sign elsewhere?
At this point it seems clear there’s no chance of Stanton remaining in Miami beyond the 2016 season when he reaches free agency. As such, the odds are good there will be arbitration fights between Stanton and the Fish this off-season and the next two.
mlbtraderumors.com predicts that Stanton will get $4.8 million through the arbitration process for 2014 but acknowledges that the actual amount is hard to predict because few other recent first-time arbitration-eligible players have had numbers like Stanton’s. While several other young sluggers have had similar home run totals, they were generally healthier than Stanton has been the last two seasons.
Uncertainty as to what Stanton might be awarded by an arbitrator makes it more likely that Stanton’s case will actually go to a hearing, at least in light of the Marlins’ proven intent to pay as little as possible. However, the Marlins’ cheapness has cost them in arbitration hearings — they are 3-7 in arbitration hearings while throughout salary arbitration’s history teams have won slightly more than 57% of the cases that went to hearing (286 out of 500). It’s also worth noting, though, that no cases went to hearing last off-season for the first time since salary arbitration started in 1974.
At any rate, I for one am hoping that Stanton forces the Marlins to give him the biggest contract possible for 2014.