The Miami Marlins know Giancarlo Stanton will be with the team for a long time and now plan to add support in the lineup.
After confirming his team had signed Stanton, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made it known that the work is not done. While the Marlins competed in 2014, there were a lot of times Stanton was pitched around due to a lack of protection. The Marlins would likely prefer that their $325 million man sees as many pitches to hit as possible.
"We are going to surround him with an improved lineup as well. We need another bat in this lineup that can help him out," Loria told the Miami Herald.
Casey McGehee did a great job hitting behind Stanton in 2014 for the first half of the year. McGehee who was on a one-year deal almost was a member of the National League All-Star team for his efforts. The second half was a different story however as McGehee's production tailed off and Stanton began to have less chances to make an impact. McGehee will be on the team in 2015 and will likely remain the starting third baseman.
When looking around the big leagues, the one player that compares best to Stanton is Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout recently picked up the American League Most Valuable Player award after a season where his stats nearly matched Stanton's. Trout benefits from a better lineup around him which includes among others, Albert Pujols.
There are a few intriguing bats in the free agent market this off-season and the Marlins could also look for help via trades. In free agency, Pablo Sandoval who most recently played with the World Champion San Francisco Giants is out there. Sandoval can play first or third base and would provide the type of impact bat that the Marlins need behind Stanton.
Sandoval has made it known he would prefer to remain with the Giants. It is possible he would even take less money to do so. There are also several times reportedly in the mix for Sandoval's service and his asking price could simply become too high for Miami.
Adam LaRoche is another free agent bat that could interest Miami. Even though Garrett Jones is under contract for 2015, the team could look to improve at the position. LaRoche offers sure-handed defense as well as a clutch dependable bat. The lefty would also give the Marlins a good righty-lefty dynamic in the middle of the order.
The Marlins could also look to improve their pitching this off-season. With ace Jose Fernandez out until at least the All-Star break, Miami will need to fill his rotation spot and pick up as many wins as possible. Names like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester will probably not be in the mix due to their salary demands. The Marlins could intend target a pitcher such as Ervin Santana.
In a trade, the possibilities open up much more but could become rather costly in terms of prospects. The Chicago Cubs have a surplus of young talented infielders and the Marlins have a dire need for infield help. It would likely cost Miami a top pitching arm such as Andrew Heaney to land one of the Cub infielders. A name that could intrigue Miami is Starlin Castro.
The 24-year old shortstop would have to change positions and play second base for Miami as Adeiny Hechavarria is already locked into the lineup. If the Marlins could acquire Castro, they'd be picking up a player who has a team friendly contract and would fill one of the team's biggest needs.
Another name that potentially would fit in with Miami via trade would be Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist can play numerous positions and is signed for only 2015. The Rays would also possibly ask for at least one pitching prospect in return and it again could be Heaney. It may be difficult for the Marlins to move a promising young starter for one year of Zobrist however if the deal ever presented itself.
The Marlins took a big step forward with their signing of Stanton on Monday but there is a clear need for more.