Marlins keep promise to Stanton with moves at winter meetings

The Miami Marlins finished at 77-85 in 2014, good enough to not finish last in the National League East, but still finishing in fourth place.

The Marlins’ 2014 season really wasn’t that far from contention. When Giancarlo Stanton was rendered out for the season after being hit by a pitch with just 17 games left to play in the season, the Marlins’ were only four games out of the second NL Wild Card spot.

Desperate to retain star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and sign him to a long-term deal before he became a free agent after the 2015 season, the Marlins made the slugger a promise. So far they seem to be keeping that promise.

Giancarlo  Stanton. Getty Images
Giancarlo Stanton. Getty Images

Part of the deal in Stanton’s signing his now infamous 13 year $325 million contract (that has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season, in the event the Marlins are not able to follow through on the promise) was that the organization would build a winning team with Stanton as the center piece.

So far so good for the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton. They’ve been following through in fulfilling their promise enough already to the point that they will easily be contenders (or gasp! I heard one MLB Network analyst say N.L. East Division Champions!) in the National League postseason race in 2015.

To begin with the Marlins are trying to sign some of their young budding stars to long-term extensions. These players reportedly include outfielders 23-year-old N.L. Gold Glove winner Christian Yelich and 24-year-old Marcell Ozuna, as well as 25-year-old infielder Adeiny Hechavarria.

They’ve already offered 23-year-old starting pitcher Jose Fernandez a six-year deal of around $40 million. Thus far none of these deals have been finalized but the Marlins have shown their intent is there.

Over the course of Major League Baseball’s 113th annual Winter Meetings in San Diego this week the Marlins have proven their intent to improve the team and win.

They addressed two of their major needs, second base and starting pitching depth, within a few hours late Wednesday night.

First, the Marlins made an impressive seven-player trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which they sent top-pitching prospect left-hander Andrew Haney as part of a package to Los Angeles for right-handed veteran starting pitcher Dan Haren and speedy secondbaseman Dee Gordon.

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Dee Gordon. Getty Images.

Gordon, 26, adds much needed speed to the leadoff spot in the Marlins lineup. His presence will allow Yelich to be able to move back to the number two spot in the lineup. Yelich had to take over leading off when Rafael Furcal was injured last season.

Gordon hit a league leading 12 triples in 2014. He also led the league in stolen bases with 64, which is six more than the Marlins had as a team last season. He also made his first All-Star Game in 2014.

Gordon, son of former big leaguer Tom Gordon, is a Florida native and is very pleased that he will be able to play in front of his friends and family along with the Marlins young team.

Haren, 34, however, has previously stated that he would prefer to retire than to move away from family and friends who live in the Los Angeles area. Should Haren retire the Marlins will receive compensation.

Even though there is a chance the Marlins could possibly convince Haren not to retire which would bolster their pitching rotation depth, the Marlins didn’t want to take the risk with Haren.

So, they went and got starter Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds in an early morning trade. In return the Reds received reliever Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach.

Mat Latos. Getty Images.
Mat Latos. Getty Images.

Although Latos only made 16 starts in 2014, missing most of the first half recovering from knee surgery and the end of the season with soreness in his pitching elbow, he managed to still finish his season at 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA. The Marlins are hoping that he’ll bounce back in 2015.

There is no real reason why he shouldn’t bounce back. The 27-year-old Latos, who has pitched with the Reds and the San Diego Padres has a career ERA of 3.35. He also has proven he can easily pitch close to or above 200 innings in four of his six season and does not have an injury-prone history.

Like Gordon, Latos is a florida native. He attended Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale and was drafted by the Padres in the 11th round of the 2006 amatuer draft.

His wife, Dallas Latos (Mat does not have a Twitter account), frantically tweeted in the early morning about the Latos coming to Miami.

Latos will join All-Star Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler and Nathan Eovaldi in the Marlins rotation. Fernandez, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, is another one of many pitchers coming off of Tommy John surgery this year.

He should rejoin the rotation in July at the latest but more likely early June, making Latos the number three starter and giving the Marlins one of the better group of top three starters in baseball.

“We want to build, and we want to be competitive every year, and we want our team to play into October,” said Mike Hill, Miami’s president of baseball operations.

So far that is what the Marlins have done, despite not adding another power bat (yet) to protect Stanton more in the lineup, they have put themselves in a position to compete with the Nationals for the N.L. Eastern Division title.

So far it appears that the Marlins have shown Stanton that their promise to him was not in vain.

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