Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is in the midst of having his best season of his young career. Stanton has been healthy all season, after having several stints on the Disabled List the past few seasons.
He has put up MVP worthy numbers and still has the Marlins contenders for a playoff spot in the National League.
Stanton currently leads in two of the three National League Triple Crown categories, with 36 home runs and 102 RBIs, all while keeping a steady .295 batting average. He has homered in each of the past three games and has been scorching hot since the beginning of August.
What next for Stanton?
Despite having such a tremendous season, and being a candidate to win the National League MVP Award, in what may be one of the closest MVP races in recent memory between Stanton and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, the question to start thinking about is what will Stanton's future with Marlins be?
It is obvious that the dollar amount for the long-term contract of Stanton continues to grow. It is likely that he will be a focal point of a franchise for years to come, but the question will be, what franchise?
Stanton is still young, just a little less than two years older than Angels star and likely American League MVP Mike Trout. At the age of 24, Stanton's stock continues to rise, and whether he earns National League MVP honors this season or not, he has established himself as one of the premier power-hitters in the game today.
Free agency looming
However, Stanton is not signed to a long-term deal yet, and with free agency just two winters away, one would expect Stanton to be paid somewhere in the range of $250 million to $300 million.
It may also be possible that the Marlins sanction a massive investment to keep their prized slugger, whose power numbers still translate despite Miami's spacious ballpark. The problem is that the Marlins may not have the payroll to keep Stanton around and afford him as their franchise centerpiece.
Marlins have the pieces
The Marlins actually look as if they could be a team on the rise. Along with Stanton, they have a few other young up-and-coming players that could make an impact in the next few seasons, and it will be interesting to see how Miami's 22-year-old ace Jose Fernandez bounces back from season-ending Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
Before he was injured, Fernandez was one of the best pitchers in the game. Stanton and Fernandez make a star-studded tandem that could lift a Marlins organization that has struggled for last several years.
The question is, will they have the opportunity and will they be able to afford these kind of superstars?