AP Sports Writer
MIAMI — Dee Gordon put his signature on a $50 million, five-year contract with the Miami Marlins as more than a dozen relatives watched from the front row at a news conference, Monday.
“My family stuck with me through the hard times,” Gordon said. “I’m glad they’re here for the good times.”
The 5-foot-11 Gordon is a frustrated basketball player who switched to baseball in college and became a late bloomer. Last season he led the NL in batting (.333), hits (205) and stolen bases (58), won a Gold Glove at second base and made the All-Star team.
It was his first year in Miami after he was traded by the Dodgers in a seven-player deal.
“I instantly loved the way they treated me here,” Gordon said. “Signing an extension was pretty much a no-brainer.”
The Marlins described the agreement the same way.
“I’m thrilled to be affirming our long-term commitment to Dee Gordon, not only one of the most dynamic players in baseball, but also an outstanding young man,” owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement. “It’s truly incredible and historic what he did in his first season with our ballclub.”
Among those attending the news conference was Gordon’s father, Tom, who had a 21-year career as a major league pitcher thanks to a succession of one-year contracts.
“This is a wonderful moment for me,” said the elder Gordon, a three-time All-Star. “As a parent, you want your kid to do so much better than you ever did.”
Dee Gordon, 27, didn’t play baseball until 11th grade, and didn’t become serious about the sport until three or four years ago, Tom Gordon said.
“He hasn’t honed in on all of his skill set yet,” the elder Gordon said. “My son is still five years away from understanding what his abilities actually are.”
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill agreed Gordon has room to improve — a staggering thought.
“That’s what is amazing about who he is,” Hill said. “He is still figuring things out. Yes, he has game-changing speed and is a difference-maker offensively and defensively, but his game is evolving.”
Gordon avoided salary arbitration with his deal, which includes a $14 million club option for 2021. He joins outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich among Marlins regulars with long-term contracts.
“We want to build a championship club around our core, and Dee is very much a part of our core,” Hill said. “We add him to Yelich and Stanton as pieces of the core signed to long-term deals. That’s important for our long-term success.”
Gordon injured his thumb at midseason last year and missed 17 games, but still became the first player to lead the NL in average and stolen bases since Jackie Robinson in 1949. He made the All-Star team for the second time, was chosen the Marlins’ MVP and led all NL second basemen in fielding percentage.
“It has been a weird, good ride,” Gordon said. “That makes it even more special.”
January has been a productive month for the Marlins, whose recent $80 million, five-year deal with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will be announced at a news conference Tuesday. They’ve also added right-hander Edwin Jackson and backup infielder Chris Johnson.
Hill said the Marlins aren’t done shopping, and they hope to add another starting pitcher.