MIAMI (Reuters) - The Miami Marlins completed the signing of slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to a record 13-year, $325 million deal on Wednesday, the most lucrative player contract in U.S. professional sports history.
“Everyone wants to talk about the record-breaking deal….but I want records on the field, I want to do things on the field and that’s what it is all about,” two-time All-Star Stanton told a news conference.
“This isn’t a lottery ticket and peace out. This is the start of new work and a new job for this city. It is a huge responsibility and one I am willing to take,” the 25-year-old added.
The Marlins, owned by New York-based art dealer Jeffrey Loria, hope Stanton can help mend shattered relations between the team and disillusioned fans after a widely criticized taxpayer funded deal to build a new ballpark.
The team has also drawn ire for gutting its roster in recent years and revealing millions in profits after lobbying for public funds.
The ballpark deal led voters to vote out the sitting mayor in 2010 and has been a black eye for professional sports in Miami, souring recent efforts by retired soccer star David Beckham to launch a Major League Soccer team on the city’s downtown bayfront.
“If the Marlins become contenders, much of the bad blood could begin to wash away,” a Miami Herald editorial said on Wednesday.
The Marlins (77-85) last season ranked 27 out of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams in attendance, attracting about 21,000 fans per game, according to ESPN.com.
The deal includes a no-trade clause and allows Stanton, who led the National League with 37 home runs last season, to opt out after six years, Loria told MLB.com.
The deal surpasses the previous MLB record, a 10-year, $292 million contract inked in March by Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
A second-round pick by the Marlins in the 2007 draft, Stanton is now among the most feared hitters in baseball, pounding 154 career homers despite playing in the spacious Marlins Park.
This year Stanton earned his first Silver Slugger Award and became the first Marlins player to win the Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes each league’s top offensive player and is decided by a panel of Hall of Famers.
Editing by David Adams, Simon Evans and Larry Fine