Marlins GM says Stanton not available
Jennings discusses building around slugger during radio show on Sunday
MIAMI -- The Hot Stove season is about to heat up, but already a top Marlins official has thrown cold water on any speculation that slugger Giancarlo Stanton is on the trade market.
General manager Dan Jennings on Sunday flatly stated Stanton will be Miami's right fielder in 2014. Jennings' declaration came on SiriusXM's "The Front Office" radio show, hosted by Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette.
During the interview, Jennings was asked if under any circumstance Stanton could be traded.
"Mr. Stanton is not available," Jennings said. "He is going to be in right field at Marlins Park, and [we're] looking forward to having a big year with him. We're excited. We think it's going to be a lot of fun building around him, and what he can mean to this ballclub and that city."
Stanton, who turns 24 on Friday, is entering arbitration for the first time, and his salary is expected to rise to close to $5 million.
The Marlins are considering offering Stanton a multiyear contract. Although there has been speculation that the Southern California native would not be interested in a long-term deal with Miami, that bridge has never been crossed because he hasn't been presented with a concrete offer.
For the right price, the Marlins may be able to lock up their biggest impact bat. The team has no urgency to trade Stanton, because he isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
The slugger is coming off a down season by his standards, as he batted .249 with 24 home runs and 62 RBIs in 116 games. Still, he is one of the most feared hitters in the game.
Since breaking into the big leagues at age 20 in 2010, Stanton has 117 home runs and 294 RBIs in 489 games. After finishing last in the Majors in runs scored, home runs and batting average, Miami is looking at Stanton as a building block.
The General Managers Meetings get underway Nov. 11 in Orlando, Fla., and the Marlins are expected to try to upgrade at third base and catcher.
As far as internal options to hit around Stanton, Jennings noted there are several young players who are promising candidates. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna each showed promise as rookies in 2013. They are the front-runners to round out the outfield.
"Right now, we've got some young kids that arrived this past year in the big leagues in Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna," Jennings said. "Those guys, we feel like, certainly hit in the top half of that lineup.
"Where they hit exactly? I think you're going to have to let a little time unfold. Yelich could be a one-hole hitter. He could be a three-hole hitter. Ozuna has a history of being a run-producer throughout his time in the Minor Leagues. Prior to injurying his thumb, he had a real nice year for a kid breaking in."
Yelich, called up from Double-A Jacksonville after the All-Star break in July, batted .288 with a .370 on-base percentage. Ozuna appeared in 70 games, and he batted .265 with three homers and 32 RBIs. But Ozuna suffered a left thumb injury that required season-ending surgery.
"We see those guys as being in that top half in the lineup in some capacity," Jennings said.
Miami has an abundance of young pitchers who can be used to trade for offensive help.
"It is no secret: We're going to have to do some work this winter and go out and get a few bats that can help that lineup and give us depth we're going to need," Jennings said. "Third base certainly is a spot we have to look at as an upgrade there."
Mark Trumbo of the Angels and Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox could be options to add more offensive punch. Jennings acknowledged both are attractive players who would draw interest from a number of teams.
At catcher, veteran Jeff Mathis returns. Rob Brantly was the 2013 Opening Day catcher, but he had his struggles both offensively and defensively, and he may benefit from more Minor League development.
"We like Brantly," Jennings said. "He may need a little more time in the Minor Leagues, or at least come into camp and have to fight to earn a spot. The competition of that is a good thing."
At first base, Logan Morrison also will be heading to arbitration for the first time. The Marlins are hopeful that being healthy for the first time in three years will mean more production out of Morrison, who has dealt with two surgeries to his right knee.
"We think having a healthy Logan Morrison coming into Spring Training is certainly something that should benefit us and him," Jennings said.