There’s “growing optimism” between the Marlins and right-hander Sandy Alcantara about a potential extension, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. It’s a notable turn of events after the Marlins’ initial overtures were reported to be on the light side. Talks between the two sides have been ongoing, per Jackson, and both parties feel there’s progress being made.

It’s not clear when a theoretical deal would come together. Such matters are often reserved for later in the offseason or even Spring Training. Progress being made at this point could lead to a rare but not unheard-of September extension for a key player of this nature, or it could simply lay the groundwork for when the two parties pick things back up early in 2022.

What is clear to see is just why Miami is so keen on the idea of keeping Alcantara for the long haul. The 26-year-old righty has steadily improved in parts of four seasons with the Fish and has now emerged as the workhorse leader on the pitching staff. He’s one of just four pitchers in all of Major League Baseball to have reached the 200-inning threshold in 2021, as teams have been even more guarded than usual with pitcher workloads on the heels of the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. Alcantara, however, isn’t simply a durable innings eater providing innings in bulk; he’s developed into one of the game’s most effective hurlers.