How much longer will Giancarlo Stanton be a Miami Marlin?
It shouldn't be any surprise that plenty of MLB teams would show interest in a 23-year-old outfielder coming off a season during which he knocked 37 home runs with 86 RBI while batting .290 with a .969 OPS.
The question is whether or not the Miami Marlins are putting Giancarlo Stanton on the trade block after the salary purge that sent Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle to the Toronto Blue Jays. Stanton let it be known through Twitter that he wasn't happy about the deal.
The presumption is that the Marlins will eventually want to trade Stanton before he becomes expensive through arbitration. His first year of eligibility is 2013, and the general belief is that Stanton's salary could go from the $480,000 he made this season up to $7 million next year, according to The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson.
An MLB source informed The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo that many teams have contacted the Marlins about a possible deal, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs.
I would imagine you could include almost every team in MLB on that list. Even those that don't have an opening for a corner outfielder would likely try to make room for a player of Stanton's age, talent and four years of club control.
Former teammate Johnson said he believes Stanton eventually wants to play in his home state of California. However, he'll probably have to wait for free agency to make that happen.
But of the five teams mentioned in Cafardo's report, which would be the best fit for Stanton? Let's take a look.
Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. might go to sleep dreaming of having Giancarlo Stanton in his outfield.
Stanton represents everything the Phillies roster currently lacks: a right-handed power bat that can play right field for at least the next four seasons.
The only thing that could possibly make Stanton a more perfect fit was if he could play center field.
But with a 35-homer slugger manning one of the corner outfield spots, Amaro could afford to go with a more defensive-minded player in center. Amaro could also conceivably still sign one of the top free-agent centerfielders if he trades for Stanton.
A middle of the lineup with Chase Utley batting third, Stanton at cleanup, Ryan Howard hitting fifth and Carlos Ruiz in the sixth spot would be a strong foursome with the left-right-left combination that manager Charlie Manuel favors in that part of the batting order.
Such a trade would surely wipe out whatever minor league depth the Phillies have, however. Top pitching prospects Trevor May and Jesse Biddle would almost certainly be included in a deal. Amaro could probably say goodbye to his best catching prospect, Sebastian Valle, too.
This would be an "all-in" trade for the Phillies. Can they really afford to make that kind of deal after tapping out the farm system for years in trades for Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Hunter Pence?
The Boston Red Sox have an opening in right field, pending their negotiations with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross.
But if the choice is between Ross and Giancarlo Stanton, is there much of a dilemma? The thought of Stanton blasting baseballs over the Green Monster in Fenway Park for at least the next four years would bring warmth to even the most chilled Red Sox fan.
As The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo writes, the Red Sox need a superstar in their lineup. They need to make a splashy move. Signing Josh Hamilton would fit those criteria. But isn't the 23-year-old Stanton a far better investment for a Red Sox team that needs to get younger?
Trading for Stanton to fill an opening in the outfield would also keep financial resources available to sign a first baseman. Would Mike Napoli or someone like Adam LaRoche still be in play for Boston under such circumstances?
Getting a young superstar like Stanton would wipe out the minor league depth that general manager Ben Cherington has tried to build, however. Can Boston really afford to trade a top pitching prospect like Matt Barnes or outfielders Jackie Bradley or Bryce Brentz?
Signing a free agent like Hamilton would just cost money. What is in the best long-term interests of the Red Sox?
What better statement to Baltimore Orioles fans could the team make than following up the improbable success of the 2012 season with a big move that shows ownership is serious about staying in playoff contention?
Giancarlo Stanton would fit nicely in right field, with Nick Markakis presumably moving over to left. The Orioles may have sights on filling their left field opening when they traded second baseman Robert Andino to the Seattle Mariners for Trayvon Robinson, but Robinson is a work in progress at the major league level.
Stanton's bat would join an already powerful Baltimore lineup that includes Adam Jones, Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters. But if the team decides not to offer Mark Reynolds arbitration, will first base become more of a priority? Or to get a player of Stanton's caliber, should the O's just make the deal and figure out how it all fits later on?
Another consideration is that the Orioles already have a strong enough batting order and need to address their starting pitching concerns. Can this team expect to contend again in the AL East with the same pitching staff it patched together in 2012?
As with every other team on this list, the major question is whether or not general manager Dan Duquette has the resources in his minor league system to make a deal for Stanton. Without trading prospects he doesn't want to lose, the answer is very likely no.
Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes. Could he be the next great New York Yankees superstar? It's a very intriguing possibility—unless, of course, you're not a Yankees fan.
The Yankees have an opening in right field after letting Nick Swisher go to free agency. General manager Brian Cashman doesn't want to sign an expensive free agent (nor a player of mid-range cost like Torii Hunter) to fill the position, as principal owner Hal Steinbrenner has mandated the team's payroll come in below the $189 million luxury tax threshold for 2014.
That could take the Yankees out of the running for Stanton.
Even if he earns less over the next four years through arbitration than a comparable free agent would cost, Stanton's salary could still risk putting the Yanks' payroll over that luxury tax threshold and the 50 percent penalty (as a four-time offender) on every dollar over the limit that would incur.
Cashman might also be less willing to trade top prospects than he has in the past because keeping costs down has become such a priority. The Yankees also have less marketable minor leaguers with top pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances suffering major setbacks in their development this year.
As much as the Yankees would surely love to make a deal for Stanton, they may not have the resources to do so. That's especially true if the Marlins seek pitching in return. If only they could have that Jesus Montero-for-Michael Pineda trade back. Montero would have made a nice centerpiece in a deal for Stanton.
With Theo Epstein in year two of his rebuilding project on the North Side, Giancarlo Stanton probably isn't a good fit for what the Chicago Cubs are trying to do right now.
Building around a 23-year-old superstar would surely accelerate Epstein's plan. Having him around for four years would provide the Cubs another cornerstone offensive player along with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
But Epstein is in the business of trying to acquire minor league prospects—especially pitchers—not trade them away. Considering what the Cubs would have to give up to acquire Stanton, would such a deal actually set the organization back rather than push the rebuilding ahead?
Stanton might not be thrilled about going to the Cubs either. Going from one work in progress to another probably isn't what Stanton has in mind by getting away from the Marlins.
Would this be a way for Epstein to somehow unload the $36 million owed to Alfonso Soriano through 2014? The Marlins surely wouldn't accept that without the Cubs eating a major portion of that contract or being able to flip Soriano to another team in exchange for minor league talent.
But it's one of many possibilities to consider if the Cubs are seriously thinking about making a deal that would change the face of their franchise for at least the next four seasons and give the team three star hitters that fans throughout MLB would love to see.
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