The Red Sox would love to get Giancarlo Stanton in a Boston uniform.
In the aftermath of the Miami Marlins mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, speculation was rife that slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton would be the next player shipped out of town. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez recently wrote that the Marlins won’t be trading Stanton anytime soon. However, everyone has their price, and one of the teams that might have what it takes to step up to the plate and make a bid for the emerging superstar is the Boston Red Sox.
Rodriguez cited an anonymous MLB executive as saying the Marlins were building around Stanton for the upcoming season and likely the foreseeable future. Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, recently spoke about Stanton. "Our plans for him in 2013 are to be our right fielder and to be in the middle of our lineup."
The reluctance of the Marlins to trade Stanton is because he is a young, cheap star. The 23-year-old has hit 93 home runs in his first three major league seasons. He made just $480,000 last season, isn't arbitration eligible until 2014 and won’t be eligible for free agency until 2017.
It would take a lot to get the Marlins to agree to part with the five years of relatively low-cost control a team would have of Stanton, but it can be done. Teams willing to offer up a package of premium young talent could get Miami to change its mind. The Red Sox have the resources to get such a deal done if they wanted to go after Stanton and make him the centerpiece of their lineup.
Boston team president and CEO Larry Lucchino recently indicated on the WEEI radio show Dennis & Callahan that the Red Sox want to get away from lengthy expensive contracts. Because he won’t hit free agency until 2017, Stanton would be a potential star who could prove his worth over the next few seasons before the Red Sox had to make a decision about offering him a long-term extension.
Any team trading for Stanton would have to pay dearly. ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes tweeted about the high price he heard it would take to even get the conversation started on a potential Stanton trade.
Even more recently, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reported that the price for Stanton may have risen, writing "From what the Marlins are telling teams, any package would need to begin with three top-level prospects (very top level) and likely would need to include two other players as well."
The Red Sox don't have the same number of premium major league-ready prospects as some other teams. However, they do have the depth to get a deal done.
Click through to see what I think the Red Sox would have to give up to have a legitimate chance to trade for Stanton.
Xander Bogaerts is the Red Sox most highly regarded prospect.
If the Red Sox could get the Marlins to listen to a potential trade offer for Stanton, it would all hinge on Boston’s willingness to include Bogaerts. There is no point for Miami to part with Stanton if they can’t get Boston's best prospect as part of the deal.
Currently a shortstop, Bogaerts may stick at that position, but he also may wind up being a third baseman in the major leagues. It will all depend on how his body develops and whether he maintains enough athleticism. Regardless, many believe he will be a special player wherever he plays on the field.
Baseball America tabbed Bogaerts as Boston’s top prospect following the 2012 season.
ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranked Bogaerts as the 62nd-best prospect in all of baseball.
Bogaerts' main value is his raw power and overall hitting ability as an infielder. Having just turned 20, he had a breakout 2012 season, hitting a combined .307 with 37 doubles and 20 home runs between stints with Boston’s high Single-A and Double-A affiliates.
The Marlins have scored in the past by trading for Boston’s top shortstop prospect, which may make them more willing to try again. They obtained Hanley Ramirez as part of the deal for pitcher Josh Beckett in 2005. While Ramirez’s tenure in Miami came to a less-than-stellar end, he had a number of good seasons with the team.
Putting Bogaerts on the table at least gets the Marlins listening to what else the Red Sox have to say.
Bradley isn't a power hitter, but looks like he could be a quality major league outfielder.
The Marlins will want an outfield prospect as part of any deal for Stanton. Although youngsters like Bryce Brentz offer much more upside in the power department, Bradley has a better all-around game and would likely be their pick.
Bradley, a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Sox, made his presence known in a big way last season. Playing at two levels, he hit a combined .315 with nine home runs, 24 stolen bases and 42 doubles. He is also considered a good defensive player, whose best position will probably be center field.
Bradley is assumed to be the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury if he is traded or leaves via free agency. However, if Boston can land a player of Stanton’s caliber, it would soften the blow of having to explore another option for center field.
Bradley may not even have a spot, now that ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes has reported that Boston has agreed to a three-year contract with free agent Shane Victorino. The Red Sox may even decide to retain Ellsbury, which would make it even more difficult to find major league playing time for Bradley.
Doubront looks like he will be a solid mid-rotation starter for years to come.
The Marlins should insist on getting something back besides unproven prospects. They will require a young, cheap player, and Doubront is whom they should set their sights on.
Just 25, the left-handed Doubront is a starter who won 11 games and struck out 167 batters last season. He has a career ERA of 4.86 but has averaged a strikeout per inning, indicating he has the tools to be even better than he has been.
NESN’s Zach Stoloff believes that Doubront needs to tweak his command and pitch efficiency to take the next step. He may never be a star but has a career as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter well within his reach.
Doubront isn't arbitration-eligible until 2015 and won’t reach free agency until 2018, so he will be under team control for the next few years at reasonable prices—just the kind of player the Marlins like.
The Red Sox have Matt Barnes, their best pitching prospect, getting close to being major league-ready, so a replacement for Doubront may already be in the wings if he were traded. Boston also has the resources to sign a free agent if a shorter-term option were needed.
It would be tough for the Red Sox to give up a pitcher like Doubront, but if they feel Stanton can be that special in a Boston uniform, it’s a sacrifice they might have to make.
De La Rosa is a complete wild card.
The final piece of any trade involving prospects often is a young player without much of a proven track record but with a major upside. This type of asset is often referred to as a lottery ticket, meaning that a team could strike it big with them or completely miss. The player currently in the Red Sox system who fits this description the best is De La Rosa.
The right-handed De La Rosa was obtained in the massive trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past season. FanGraphs.com shows that he is a flame-thrower, with an average 2012 fastball velocity of 94.4 mph. Additionally, he throws a changeup and slider, making him capable of starting or relieving.
An extensive injury history makes De La Rosa a major question mark. He has never appeared in more than 22 games in a season since starting pro ball in 2007. He has pitched just a total of 73 games in his professional baseball career. Despite such bumps, he is considered so talented that he has had two stints in the majors with the Dodgers.
Still just 23, he has time to settle in and realize his full potential. As of right now he has no clear role with the Red Sox in 2013, making him one of their more expendable prospects.
De La Rosa's tantalizing talent would tempt the Marlins, but his potential risk would soften the blow to the Red Sox if they include him in such a trade. He could be the final piece in helping the Red Sox button up a deal for Stanton.
Statistics via BaseballReference