The Marlins persuaded Giancarlo Stanton to say yes. He couldn't afford to say no.
Stanton agreed to terms Monday on a $325 million, 13-year contract, team owner Jeffrey Loria said. It's the most lucrative deal for an American athlete and averages $25 million per season.
"It's a landmark moment for the franchise and Giancarlo," Loria said.
The deal includes a no-trade clause, and Stanton can opt out after six years, Loria said. A news conference was planned Wednesday.
The Marlins right fielder and centerpiece wasn't due to become eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, and signing him to a long-term deal was considered a long shot. The Marlins haven't reached the playoffs since 2003, and he was distrustful of the franchise's direction.
Miami's 2014 payroll of $52.3 million was the lowest in the majors. The last time they spent big was before the 2012 season, the first in their new ballpark. Then came a disastrous season and salary purge, intensifying fan animosity toward Loria.
That sell-off and subsequent roster rebuilding set the stage for the Stanton deal, Loria said.
"Unfortunately people didn't understand that two years ago, we had no choice," the owner said. "I had to get to today."
Loria's frugal ways in the past angered the players' union and made the franchise the butt of jokes. Given such thriftiness, the generosity toward Stanton becomes even more stunning.
His contract tops the $292 million, 10-year deal Miguel Cabrera agreed to with the Detroit Tigers in March. Alex Rodriguez signed the largest previous deal, a $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees before the 2008 season.
Stanton, who turned 25 on Nov. 8, is perhaps the game's most feared slugger. He has 154 career homers, including 37 this year, despite playing home games in spacious Marlins Park.
The two-time All-Star right fielder recently won the NL Hank Aaron Award and was voted the NL's outstanding player in balloting by his fellow major leaguers. He won a Silver Slugger Award and finished second to Clayton Kershaw in NL MVP voting.
"Giancarlo Stanton has come of age, and he's going to be here a long time," Loria said. "It's wonderful to have a young man this caliber, integrity and ability, and I'm very happy."
Loria said he doesn't expect Stanton to opt out when he's 31, and sees a positive side to the no-trade clause.
"There will be no distraction about, 'Will he be traded?'" Loria said.
Stanton's 2014 season ended Sept. 11 when he was hit in the face by a pitch and suffered fractures in his face and other injuries. Despite missing the final 17 games, he led the NL in homers and slugging for the Marlins, who went 77-85 but ended a three-year streak of last-place finishes in the NL East.
The Marlins have said they're not concerned the injuries will have lingering effects. They made locking up Stanton their top offseason priority and overcame his skepticism about their efforts to fielding a winning team.
The Marlins believe they're poised to contend next year with a young roster than includes right-handers Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez, Gold Glove left fielder Christian Yelich, center fielder Marcell Ozuna and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.