Sandy Alcantara wants to stay with the Marlins. An extension appears close to happening

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Sandy Alcantara made it clear on Friday.

“I want to be here for a long time,” the Miami Marlins’ starting pitcher said. “If we get an agreement, I will feel blessed because I want to be here for the rest of my life.”

An agreement appears close to being in place.

The Marlins and Alcantara are reportedly closing in on a five-year contract agreement. The deal, if completed, will buy out Alcantara’s three years of arbitration and his first two years of free agency. It includes upwards of $55 million in guaranteed money, as first reported Monday morning by SportsGrid’s Craig Mish. It would be the largest deal both in terms of years and total value under the Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter ownership group.

And if the deal becomes official, one would expect it would come by end of day Dec. 1, when MLB’s current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.

Alcantara, 26, is coming off a career year. He had a single-season best 205 2/3 innings pitched and 201 strikeouts — just the fifth pitcher in Marlins history to hit 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in the same season — while pitching to a 3.19 ERA over 33 starts.

For a gauge of just how good Alcantara was last season, consider the following:

He was one of four pitchers to throw at least 200 innings in 2021, trailing only the Phillies’ Zach Wheeler, the DodgersWalker Buehler and the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright.

He was one of seven pitchers to make a league-leading 33 starts. Only three of the other six starters — Buehler, the Giants’ Kevin Gausman and the Mets’ Marcus Stroman — had a lower ERA than Alcantara.

He had six starts in which he pitched at least eight innings while giving up no more than one earned run — two more than any other pitcher in 2021 (Wheeler, Wainwright and the Astros’ Zack Greinke each had four).

It follows his All-Star season in 2019 in which he threw 197 1/3 innings and posted a 3.88 ERA and the abbreviated 2020 season in which he pitched to a 3.00 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 42 innings while making seven starts.

“They know what I did this year,” said Alcantara, who the Marlins acquired from the Cardinals in December 2017 as part of the Marcell Ozuna trade. “They know what I did last year, too. They know I have a lot of talent. They know I can be here, keep doing my job and keep competing.”

Outside of saying nothing is official, the Marlins did not provide comment on the potential contract extension or how close it is to being finalized. Marlins general manager Kim Ng, however, did note last week how valuable Alcantara is to the club as the Marlins attempt to become playoff contenders.

“He’s really important,” Ng said. “I think Sandy showed that he’s got great stuff — he’s always shown that but I think in particular this year, I think we saw him get better. I saw him mature even more and know that he’s at the at the front of our staff and holding the fort down for us.”

And he’s been holding down the fort both on and off the field.

Yes, he’s the ace of a young-yet-talent rotation that could include any combination of 2021 Rookie of the Year runner-up Trevor Rogers, Pablo Lopez, Jesus Luzardo, Elieser Hernandez, and top prospects Sixto Sanchez and Edward Cabrera — and that’s not to mention the next wave of pitchers on the way led by 2020 first-round draft pick Max Meyer.

But Alcantara has also taken it upon himself to serve as a mentor off the field to Sanchez and Cabrera, helping them navigate the early experiences of being a big leaguer with heightened expectations.

“There’s a lot of young guys coming behind me,” Alcantara said in September. “They’re gonna follow me. I’ve got to keep doing the right thing and keep showing them they can be like me, too.”