Miami Marlins Trio Avoid Arbitration
The Miami Marlins were able to avoid having to go to arbitration hearings with all three of their arbitration eligible players this year. With the deadline for arbitration salary exchanges being at 1 PM on Friday afternoon, the team was able to get agreements with left handed reliever Mike Dunn, right handed closer Steve Cishek, and all-star slugger and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
In 2013, Dunn had his best numbers since joining the team for the 2011 season, posting a career high in games (75), games finished (15), innings (67.2), and strikeouts (72) while also sporting his best ERA (2.66) and WHIP (1.197) with the Marlins. Dunn was effective against left-handed batters, holding them to a .192 average and .549 OPS, and proved to be no slouch against right handed batters, keeping them at a modest .231 average and .655 OPS. Against both, he walked 14 and struck out 36. In 2013, Dunn accrued $492,500 in his third and final “league minimum” year. Dunn and the Fish avoided arbitration with an agreement to a one year, $1,400,000 contract.
In a similar fashion to Dunn, Steve Cishek’s numbers improved to some career bests in 2013, including ERA (2.33), WHIP (1.077), games and games finished (69 and 62, respectively – the latter number led the National League), strikeouts (74), and saves (34 – good for sixth in the NL). Cishek took over the closer’s role for the Marlins in 2012 after high-priced free agent Heath Bell continued to struggle throughout the year, and hasn’t looked back since. Cishek earned $505,000 in 2013, and his performance for the year granted him a healthy raise, as the Marlins and Cishek agreed to a one year, $3,800,000 contract for the 2014 season.
The third and final man, Giancarlo Stanton, had a disappointing season in 2013. Battling injuries, a lack of a lineup around him, and perhaps a bit of frustration, Stanton put up a slash line of .249/.365/.480/.845 while hitting 24 home runs and 26 doubles in just 116 games. However, the Marlins are hopeful 2014 is more similar to 2012, where Stanton hit .290/.361/.608/.969 with 37 homers and 30 doubles in just 123 games. The team has stated they wish to build around Stanton, although no news has surfaced of any multi-year contract offers. However, the team has given Stanton a nice one year arbitration avoiding contract for 2014, jumping his salary from $537,000 to $6,500,000.
While rumors of trades surface constantly regarding Stanton, there have also been some talks about Cishek being dealt, most likely at the trade deadline. While Cishek has proven to be a solid closer, one thing the Marlins have in the bullpen is depth, and a lot of it, especially for the back end. Currently in the Major Leagues, there are thoughts that Dunn or A.J. Ramos could close for the team in the future. On December 11, the Fish traded first baseman Logan Morrison to the Seattle Mariners, receiving hard-throwing right-handed reliever Carter Capps in return. The Marlins front office believes that Capps, age 23, has the stuff to be a closer in the future. In the Minors, the Marlins have 22 year old Nick Wittgren, who last played in Double-A, who is a prime candidate to be a closer in the future.
As for Stanton, if the team really wants to build around this slugger, they need to lock him up long term, and the sooner they do it, the better. If they decide not to do this, then right now may be the best time to trade him, as teams would get him for three full seasons, and the Marlins could possibly get a king’s ransom of prospects in return.