Unfinished business includes signing Stanton

MIAMI — After a hectic week of free agent signings and trades, Marlins’ officials exited the Winter Meetings on Thursday noting they still have some unfinished business ahead.

Figuring out what to do at third base is at the top of the list.

President of baseball operations Michael Hill said on Thursday he had hoped to accomplish everything at the meetings.

It didn’t pan out that way mainly because they were fielding numerous offers for Logan Morrison. On Wednesday, the club reached agreement on a trade that is sending Morrison to Seattle for reliever Carter Capps. The deal is expected to be announced on Friday.

The search for third base help continues. So does another looming question — what about Giancarlo Stanton? To make something very clear, he is not being traded. What’s left unresolved is whether he actually is willing to sign long term.

Within the organization, the Marlins say he is the “face of the franchise.”

Club officials repeatedly have said they wish to build around the 24-year-old slugger.

Yet, the organization has still not engaged in any serious contract discussions with Stanton. Now there is time, and maybe that’s the plan — show a willingness to spend on free agents, add nice pieces, and actually show Stanton what is going on in Miami.

Stanton is arbitration eligible and projects to make about $7 million if the team signed him only for 2014, and moves on from there.

Technically, the Marlins have Stanton under club contract through 2016. So they could keep him on a year-to-year basis until then. But if they want to sign him long term, the timing is pretty much the next few months, or before Opening Day.

From an organizational standpoint, the Marlins are taking care of all other business as they reshape their roster.

They Marlins have been among the most active teams since Thanksgiving. The reshaped front office is striving to remold the roster.

There is a cultural change going on. Several of the new players who were brought in — Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and Garrett Jones — have playoff experience. Furcal and Saltalamacchia have been on World Series winners. This is not by accident.

The Marlins are seeking players who know how to win, and what it takes to be a winner.

Financial resources will always be an issue with the Marlins. They simply don’t have all the money streams as many other clubs do, so they must be clever and careful in the players they go after.

The players they do sign, they want them to understand the vision and direction.

This is where the Stanton saga will be worth following.

It’s no secret this organization has an image issue. Stanton has seen numerous changes. He’s had five managers since he broke in as a rookie in 2010. He’s seen close friends and teammates traded. He’s heard what the team has said it is going to do, and witnessed what they actually did do.

There has been a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the front office the past few months. This group is working hard to bring in the right mix to turn things around in the hurry.

The unanswered question is whether they will be able to do enough to convince Stanton that Miami is worth buying into for the long haul?

Joe Frisaro

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