Fresh off handing face-of-the-franchise Giancarlo Stanton a record-smashing deal, the Miami Marlins are at it again in trying to lock up their young core. Per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Marlins have offered star right-hander Jose Fernandez a six-year, $40 million extension that features two team options. The club has also made efforts to extend outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, as well as shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
The 22-year-old Fernandez has been a revelation for the Marlins, both on the field and off it. Born in Cuba, Fernandez has fit right in with the Cuban subculture of Miami, and his performance has more than justified his stardom. Through 36 career starts, Fernandez has thrown 224.1 innings, notching a 2.25 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 10.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 7.4 WAR.
The six-year deal that Miami has reportedly offered would buy out two of Fernandez's free agents years, with the potential for four if both options were to be exercised. The deal is likely only a starting point, as Heyman suggests, with Fernandez currently having little incentive to sign such a deal, as he seems to be recovering well from Tommy John surgery, and his value may be at a low-point right now. Fernandez is a client of Scott Boras, adding another roadblock to Miami signing him to an early extension.
The Marlins have also offered Yelich a contract modeled after Starling Marte's six-year, $31 million deal (with the potential for an additional $21 million available via team options) that he signed in March with the Pirates, though it seems that the proposal may have been slightly less in total dollars.
The 22-year-old Yelich broke out in his first full big-league season last year, hitting .284/.362/.402 with a 112 OPS+ and 3.6 WAR in 660 plate appearances, while also earning a Gold Glove award for his work in left field for the Marlins.
Of course, Ozuna and Hechavarria seem to be more likely to be willing to sign an early extension, as neither projects as a truly All-Star caliber player. The 25-year-old Hechavarria is well-regarded defensively by scouts, but has hit just .251/.286/.331 for a 68 wRC+ and -1.6 WAR in his career. While still well below-average, his 82 wRC+ in 2014 indicated some improvement offensively, which may be enough to make him a regular at the position.
Ozuna, who the Marlins plan to make an offer to early this week, has been more successful early in his career, with a 5.3 WAR in 903 plate appearances. Last season, he hit .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs, a 114 wRC+, and 3.7 WAR. Ozuna turned 24 earlier this month, but has already established himself, alongside Yelich and Stanton, as a member of one of the most talented outfields in baseball.
While some of these extensions seem rather unlikely (Fernandez and possibly Yelich in particular), the Marlins seem to be following in the recent trend of locking up young talent early, which originated in the 1990's with John Hart's Cleveland Indians, before making a comeback with the Atlanta Braves (who, not coincidentally, employ Hart), Tampa Bay Rays, and various other organizations. For the Marlins in particular, this method could represent a step in the right direction for a club oft-regarded as frugal (sans Stanton's recent extension).