Loria Shells Out the Dough (Sorta...) for Jose

Monday, March 3, 2014

Jeffrey Loria did something recently that is a little out of character: he willingly gave one of his players a bigger raise than necessary. Sun Sentinel Marlins reporter Juan C. Rodriguez tweeted Sunday that reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez will earn $635,000 this season, well above the $500,000 he was scheduled to make under his rookie contract (though still at a ridiculously steep discount relative to what he could get in the open market).

Notorious for his reluctance to pay pre-arbitration players anything above CBA-mandated minimums (and also for low-balling players in salary arbitration on multiple occasions), Loria is definitely taking a new tack with regards to Fernandez. A day before he was awarded the ROY last fall, Fernandez was surprised by a visit from his grandmother, Olga, who left Cuba to see him for the first time since his defection six years prior. Loria and the team helped orchestrate the reunion, a fact Fernandez made sure everyone knew:
Considering the fact that Giancarlo Stanton (the other All-Star that Marlins fans would love to see rewarded with a long-term deal) seems less likely to agree to any kind of contract extension with the Marlins by the day, perhaps Loria has learned a lesson or two about building a relationship with his players long before he enters into a contract negotiation with them. Those lessons, plus a good-faith effort to build around his young stars, would go a long way toward making the Marlins a preferred destination among free agents in addition to giving them a better opportunity to retain talent.

But is a photo op and a modest raise all he can do? Loria could make an even bigger statement by doing what so many other teams have done with young stars and extend Fernandez's contract now, five full seasons before he can go on the open market. It will cost him more in the short term, but would also allow the Marlins to limit his salary during arbitration years and thereafter. It is what Tampa did with Evan Longoria, and Minnesota with Joe Mauer, to name a few examples.

This is a start, though, and hopefully the first of many management concessions to come in the ongoing relationship between Fernandez and the Marlins.

Speaking of dudes the Marlins should have locked up a long time ago, Giancarlo Stanton is either a reckless prankster, or he is resorting to possible self-harm as a negotiating tactic with Marlins brass. Regardless, we recommend he just leave the crocs alone...


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