Seeing what the Braves have done with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, why can't the Marlins do something like that to lock up Giancarlo Stanton?
-- Jordan M., Atlanta
It didn't take long for the news to break out of Atlanta on Tuesday before I started getting e-mails along the lines of this one. Stanton's future remains a hot topic, and it will continue to do so until he is either signed to a multiyear deal or is eventually traded.
With the Atlanta players, you are looking at two different scenarios. The Braves bought out Heyward's final two arbitration years for the price of $13.3 million. Barring another extension, the right fielder will still reach free agency after the 2015 season. Freeman's deal reportedly is $135 million over eight years.
As for Stanton, his agent, Joel Wolfe, and the Marlins agreed it was best to sign for 2014, and wait and see about a future deal. Stanton will make $6.5 million this season, and he will become eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.
The Marlins have made it public they wish to lock Stanton up to a lucrative extension. As of now, it is in a holding pattern.
At minimum, Miami may want to inquire about doing a deal similar to what Atlanta did with Heyward. That would be signing Stanton at least through his arbitration seasons. His cost would be much higher than Heyward, because he is moving quickly to being a $10-million-plus player.
I can tell you this -- as an organization, the Marlins may have limited financial resources. But the club does believe it has enough dollars to sign Stanton for a multiyear package.
Even the Freeman deal would appear a bargain for Stanton. So of the two scenarios, I think the Marlins should at least explore an extension for two more seasons. That way, at minimum, Miami has Stanton under contract through 2016.
Stanton would then get a nice short-term salary increase without giving away any free-agent years. Even with a short-term agreement like that, the club could explore another extension down the road.
From what I've seen, Jeff Baker is one of the most interesting utility guys out there. I really like this signing. What are your thoughts?
-- Tony P., Hollywood, Fla.
There really is a lot to like about this move.
Showing a two-year commitment is another sign that the organization is trying to build a strong foundation. Obviously, in Baker, we aren't talking about the marquee impact free-agent pickup. But he fills the role of a right-handed bat off the bench who has punch. Baker basically replaces the right-handed power lost when Justin Ruggiano was traded to the Cubs.
One evaluator I talked to calls Baker an "on-base machine." He is considered a strong clubhouse presence, and he is a tough out. Baker can platoon at first base against tough lefties, and he can play third base, second base and the corner outfield spots. He gives manager Mike Redmond another option.
Who is going to play third base?
-- Manuel C., Coral Gables, Fla.
In December, Casey McGehee signed a one-year deal to solidify the position. McGehee spent last season in Japan, and he showed great power and production. The organization envisions McGehee as a one-year stopgap until third-base prospect Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in 2013, is ready.
Behind McGehee, there is some experienced depth, too. Ed Lucas, Donovan Solano and Derek Dietrich are candidates who were with the organization last year. Veteran Ty Wigginton has signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Wigginton is another candidate at third base, first base and as a right-handed pinch-hitter.
Third base will be one of the most watched positions in Spring Training.
On a scale of 1 to 10, what are the chances of the Marlins being a playoff team?
-- Bobby O., Tamarac, Fla.
A number of solid offseason additions have certainly made the club better. How much so? To become a serious playoff contender, the Marlins would need about 90 wins. Even with the second Wild Card, you'd need to be in that range. Perhaps 88 wins would do it, but that is stretching it.
Remember, Miami lost 100 games last year. The front office isn't making any bold predictions. They are taking a low-key approach when asked about expectations. They repeatedly stress the need to win more games.
For me, if the rotation is as strong as I think it can be, approaching .500 is realistic. As for the playoffs, I give the chances about 30 percent, because so much would have to go right. It certainly could, and that is the fun of the season.
When the Marlins broke up the 2012 roster, they knew building it back up would be a process. They certainly are heading in the right direction.
With the influx of prospects and how deep the Marlins' Minor League system is, could you see them making a big splash by acquiring a big-name player?
-- Ronald R., Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The more talent infused into the organization means the more options for potential trades down the line. I know many fans focus on the "big names" but more important than the popularity of a player is production. There are plenty of players who don't have the name recognition who simply get the job done.
The Marlins have an abundance of young pitchers. It's a position of depth. If the team feels it needs to part with some pitching to address other areas, the front office could very well do so.
I think you are going to see a focus on finding the best fitting parts. In 2012, the team went with marquee name recognition, and the expensive plan backfired. Not to say they should avoid adding big-name players, but it's not the primary objective. Finding impact players is.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.