Giancarlo Stanton extension: Marlins slugger open to long-term deal if team heads 'in right direction'

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Stanton is one of the most valuable players in MLB, and one of the league's premiere sluggers.

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton says that he would be willing to sign a long-term extension with the club if it shows a focus on competing, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.

Stanton, 24, recently agreed to a $6.5 million deal with the team for 2014 to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility. He can become a free agent after the 2016 season when, at just 27 years old, he would almost assuredly be among the most prized free agents of the decade.

After arriving to spring training, Stanton was asked Monday what it would take for him to sign a long-term deal.

"I want some team security as well," Stanton told MLB.com. "I'm very pleased with how things panned out for me. But I would like to see it grow. I have my security, somewhat now. I'd like to see a team full of that, which we are going in the right direction."

The Marlins attempted to make big moves for the 2012 season. While it moved into a new Miami ballpark, the team signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to big contracts. The team lost 93 games that year, however, and by opening day 2013 none of the three big signings remained in Miami.

The 2013 squad fared even worse, going 64-98 on the year despite the best efforts of Stanton and rookie phenom Jose Fernandez. Other than Stanton, just two Marlins players broke a .700 OPS last year: Logan Morrison (who is no longer with the team after a trade to the Mariners) and Christian Yelich.

If the Marlins commit to keeping their young talent in Miami, the team could be very good in a few years. With Stanton and Yelich (who was ranked the No. 15 prospect in the nation prior to 2013 by Baseball America) could lead a strong offense. With a pitching staff filled with young talent like Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, along with top prospects Justin Nicolino and Andrew Heaney, it's not inconceivable that the Marlins could compete a few years down the line.

Of course, the Marlins have made it a habit in previous years to ship away young players before they become too expensive. If the team wants to keep Stanton around, and indications are they do, they will have to work on maintaining a consistently successful team.

Stanton has already hit 117 home runs in just four years, with a career-high of 37 long balls in 2012. He hit .249/.365/.480 with 24 homers over 116 games in 2013 in a bit of a down year due to a hamstring injury. Trade rumors have dogged him recently, with other teams hoping to see the Marlins continue to ship off their young stars.

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