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The Miami Marlins and outfielder Starling Marte, after two weeks of back and forth discussion, were unable to agree to a contract extension.
What happened? Here’s the rundown:
Miami initially offered Marte a two-year pact, which according to sources was a nonstarter.
Marte, seeking a four-year deal and going through a mini slump, informed the Marlins there would be no extension discussions after the All-Star break.
Sources say the two sides used the break to attempt to hammer out a deal but never were able to come to an agreement. Marte, who turns 33 in October, had previously told the Miami Herald that he wanted to stay in Miami, but it appears negotiations began far too late to get pen to paper. As a result, the former All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner will likely be traded by the July 30 deadline and then test free agency this winter.
In terms of the final offer, sources say Miami was willing to go as high as $30 million over a three-year period with an option for a fourth year, but with Marte seeking a fourth year guaranteed, it seemed inevitable the end result would be an impasse.
Sources say Miami actually went closer to $40 million on the final three-year offer. The final variation of the offer would not have included an extension, a league source said.
This signals the second-highest extension offer in terms of overall dollars by the new regime under Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter since their arrival in 2018. Miami reportedly offered former catcher J.T. Realmuto more than $70 million over a six-year deal, which would have kept him in Miami long-term. Realmuto signed a five-year $115.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason.
Where could Starling Marte land?
As of early this week, there is no favorite to land the services of Marte. Despite published reports, Miami had rebuffed teams on Marte hoping to get an extension done, so things should certainly pick up this week.
According to sources, one of the key teams to watch in the pursuit of Marte is the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco has a gaping hole in center field, and have the prospect capital Miami would be looking for in a return. While Marte and his expiring deal alone would likely not be enough to land top center fielder prospect Heliot Ramos, he could be a name to watch if Miami is willing to add players to the deal who can put the Giants over the top at the deadline.
Ramos is ranked as the No. 63 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old entered Tuesday with a .269 batting average and .799 OPS with 43 home runs, 160 RBI, 33 stolen bases and 194 runs scored through 323 career minor-league games. Ramos is hitting .237 this season with 10 home runs, 14 doubles, 26 RBI, 36 runs scored and seven stolen bases through 62 games at the Double A level.
Kahil Watson and MLB Draft updates
When Miami selected Wake Forest (North Carolina) High shortstop Kahlil Watson with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, it was viewed by many experts as the top selection of the draft. Many wondered why Watson fell so far to Miami, and sources indicate at least two teams passed on Watson due to signability concerns.
MLB’s deadline for draft picks to sign is Aug. 1. The Marlins privately remain optimistic a deal with Watson will get done. Watson is seeking a massive overslot deal, according to sources, and the Marlins appear very likely to go overslot to sign him although it must be within their MLB Draft Pool Allocation.
The Marlins have a bonus pool of $9,949,800, the 11th-largest pool this draft and a little more than $1 million above the league average of $8,858,980.
Each team’s bonus pool is determined by the slot values of each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft. For example, the Marlins’ No. 16 overall pick they used to draft Watson came with a slot value of $3,745,500. Teams are allowed to give players a signing bonus larger or smaller than the slot value, but teams can’t spend more than 5 percent above their bonus pool — so, for the Marlins, $10,447,290 in total — to sign their picks or else they will lose future draft picks. Also, if a player in the top 10 rounds does not sign, his pick’s slot value is subtracted from the team’s bonus pool total.
Teams are able to spend up to $125,000 on draft picks in the 11th through 20th rounds without it counting toward their bonus allotment. However, any money beyond the $125,000 cap for those selections comes out of the team’s bonus allotment.
As of Tuesday morning, the Marlins have signed six players from their first two days of the draft: fourth-round pick Tanner Allen, fifth-round pick Brady Allen, sixth-round pick Sam Praytor, seventh-round pick Gabe Bierman, eighth-round pick Pat Monteverde and ninth-round pick Jake Schrand. All six agreed to signing bonuses that were at or below the slot value for their draft pick, freeing up money the Marlins can use to sign Watson.
It’s also worth noting Watson is represented by Excel Sports Management, the same agency that represented Jeter as a player with the New York Yankees. It will be curious, if the negotiations go down to the wire, how that could factor if at all into the end result.
More draft fodder
It is expected that 31st overall pick Joe Mack, taken by the Marlins in the competitive balance round after the first round of the draft, and second-round selection Cody Morissette will both be signed this week.
Marlins general manager Kim Ng singled out Morissette as one of the players Miami drafted outside of the organization’s Day 1 picks that she’s interested in seeing.
Morissette, a left-handed-hitting infielder, had a .337 batting average in 114 games at Boston College with 85 RBI, 70 runs scored and a .907 OPS. A thumb injury hampered him as a junior in 2021.
“Morissette is going to be an interesting guy from the description that we’ve got of him and the makeup that I heard about him,” Ng said.
Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said the Marlins had Morissette pegged as a player who could have potentially gone off the board on Day 1 and that they felt “fortunate” that he was still on the board when they selected him at No. 52.
“He was a player that we had evaluated much higher,” Svihlik said. “We really liked him a lot and so we’re fortunate just to take that. I share Cody’s example because especially early in the day, you’re just trying to take the players that fit the type of player that you’re trying to acquire and take them as quickly as you can.”
As for Mack, Svihlik called him a “bat-first catcher.” He had a .500 batting average with eight home runs, 22 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 21 games as a senior for Williamsville East (New York) High, a performance that resulted in him earning All-Western New York Player of the Year honors.
“He’s powerful and he’s explosive and he’s everything you’re looking for in a good dependable, reliable catcher,” Svihlik said.
Mack was ranked as the No. 19 overall prospect in the draft by MLB Pipeline. The slot value for the No. 31 overall pick is $2.312 million.