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Giancarlo Stanton Earns Record $325 Million Contract With Marlins

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The Miami Marlins are known as a major league baseball team that unloads its talented young players when they threaten to become too expensive - a team that keeps one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Last season, $46 million - that's next to last in the majors. So today's news is groundbreaking on baseball's business side. Miami has signed a huge contract with its 25-year-old slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Manny Navarro covers the Marlins for The Miami Herald. Manny, how huge is the contract for Stanton?

MANNY NAVARRO: Thirteen years, $325 million, that's a pretty big contract for anybody in any profession, and the biggest in North American sports history. And the Marlins sent a serious message that they want to change their image. They want to start building a winner.

SIEGEL: Let's focus on the 13 years of this contract. What's the wisdom about signing 25-year-olds to contracts that long? Lots can happen to a ballplayer in his early or mid-30s.

NAVARRO: Oh, absolutely. But it's kind of the way the game is, and I guess the Marlins believe that contracts are going to continue to escalate in this game. And if they can lock down one of the game's great, young stars for long-term then that's something they want to do. And maybe get him at a reasonable price 'cause 13 years from now, $325 million may not be much.

SIEGEL: Well, let's talk about Giancarlo Stanton, who - when he broke in - was called Mike Stanton. Tell us a bit about this young man who's now the highest-paid baseball player in America.

NAVARRO: Well, you know, Giancarlo was a great athlete growing up in the Los Angeles area. He played football and baseball, just a tremendous talent. And so he went into baseball and was just a tremendous power hitter from the get-go. In the minor leagues, he was hitting 500-foot home runs, but he's really worked on his craft - a great player on the defensive side as well. He's very gifted in that regard. And he's becoming a better overall hitter. He's not just a home run hitter you get for average this season. So he's becoming a five (unintelligible) - even a player who can steal bases.

SIEGEL: He's going to make $25 million a year from a team whose whole payroll last season was $46 million. What is this supposed to do to the relationship between Miami fans and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria?

NAVARRO: Well, it's been well documented that Jeffrey Loria's probably one of the most hated owners in all of sports. And down here in Miami, fans loathe him for what he's done of just dispatching players over the years. And, you know, this is the first sign that he's shown that he's willing to make a commitment with his wallet.

SIEGEL: Was the fact that the Marlins got a new stadium - built with hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds - did that add the pressure on Loria to pay up, man, you know, contribute some money here to make a good team?

NAVARRO: Absolutely, no question. And I think for long time nobody believed that he would. Everybody thought that Stanton was long gone and that there's no way Jeffrey Loria's going to come through, but he did.

SIEGEL: Has anyone done a, sort of, back of the envelope calculation of how many more seats per game you have to sell to make up the extra $25-30 million's worth of payroll that you're going to have?

NAVARRO: You know, it's interesting, you know, the Marlins can make money a lot of different ways and the way most teams are doing now is TV contracts. And I think in 2020 when Stanton's contract, you know, he's allowed to opt out of it if he chooses to leave South Florida after the 2020 season, that's also when the Marlins are set to renegotiate a TV contract. So I think a big part of this deal was making the Marlins more attractive so they can generate some more TV dollars. So for now, until they get that new TV contract, Jeffrey Loria is going to have to figure out some creative ways to get more fans out there. But nothing is better than keeping your players around and giving fans hope.

SIEGEL: Manny Navarro, of The Miami Herald. Thanks a lot.

NAVARRO: Any time. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.