Multiyear deals extended to Marlins' core group
Miami looking to lock up Fernandez, Yelich, Hechavarria and Ozuna
MIAMI -- Miami's mission to keep its young nucleus together is well underway. The club, which recently made a huge splash by signing Giancarlo Stanton, is trying to keep four more core players long term.
MLB.com has confirmed the Marlins have presented the frameworks of offers to Jose Fernandez, Adeiny Hechavarria and Christian Yelich. Nothing is considered imminent, and it is doubtful any deals will be reached before next week's Winter Meetings in San Diego. Sometime in the upcoming days, center fielder Marcell Ozuna is also expected to be presented with an offer. The offers were first reported by CBSSports.com.
Because conversations are ongoing with four different players, the talks are moving slowly, and in some cases multiple proposals are on the table. All four players have not reached their arbitration years.
The Marlins entered the offseason making it clear they intended to sign several of their young players to multiyear deals. The club also noted signing Stanton was priority No. 1.
The Marlins accomplished that on Nov. 19, agreeing with the two-time All-Star right fielder to a 13-year, $325 million contract, which is the longest and largest dollar amount pact for any North American athlete in history.
After signing Stanton, the team stressed the importance of keeping continuity on the roster. If Miami can get all four of these players to multiyear agreements, the foundation would be set to build a contending club for at least the next five or six seasons.
Fernandez and Ozuna are each represented by agent Scott Boras, who has the reputation of allowing his clients to reach free agency.
Reportedly, Miami is presenting Fernandez, 22, with a six-year deal worth about $40 million, and it contains two club options. If accepted, it would be the largest contract for pitcher with two seasons of service time.
The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year, Fernandez appeared to be headed for an NL Cy Young Award-caliber season. But those aspirations were cut short when he felt discomfort in his right elbow during a start on May 9 at San Diego. A week later, he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The injury limited Fernandez to eight starts, and he was 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings.
Born in Cuba, Fernandez attended high school in Tampa, Fla., and he made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2013, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA on a team that lost 100 games. Fernandez is also a fan favorite and one of the rising stars in the sport.
Yelich, Ozuna and Fernandez are all homegrown Marlins. Yelich (2010) and Fernandez ('11) were first-round picks, and Ozuna signed as an international free agent in '08.
Hechavarria, 25, was an NL Gold Glove Award finalist at shortstop, and he is one of the most valuable players on the club. Acquired from the Blue Jays as part of a 12-player trade in November 2012, Hechavarria made great strides at the plate in '14, batting .276 with 20 doubles and 53 runs scored.
Miami believes it has the best young outfield in the NL, and the club wants to keep the trio together for years to come.
Yelich, who turns 23 on Friday, had a strong first full big league season, batting .284 with a .362 on-base percentage in 144 games. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native led off and paced the team with 94 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.
In spacious Marlins Park, speed is a necessity in the outfield. Yelich provided plenty of it, and he covered enough ground to become the NL Gold Glove Award-winning left fielder.
Miami is reportedly presenting Yelich with a six-year package modeled around Pittsburgh's Starling Marte's six-year, $31.5 million contract. But Yelich's dollar figure may end up being a little less.
Ozuna, who turned 24 in November, is one of the rising young power hitters in the NL. He was second to Stanton on the Marlins in home runs (23) and RBIs (85).
Ozuna played a solid center field, and he showcased a strong, accurate arm with 10 assists.
With the Winter Meetings set for San Diego beginning Dec. 8, the Marlins are in the market for a front-line starting pitcher and a power bat.