Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Larry Beinfest, the Marlins president of baseball operations, could haul in a mother lode of young prospects if Giancarlo Stanton is traded.
No, Stanton is not available.
At least that's what the Marlins continuously told the baseball world at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. last month.
"Everybody has asked about him," one major league executive told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes two weeks ago.
But, if Loria, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and the Marlins brain trust decided to hang a "for sale" sign around Stanton's neck today, the organization's cell phone bill might be larger than its 2013 payroll.
It would be a safe bet every team in baseball would inquire about Stanton if he became available. Not only does the slugger have the potential to be a future Hall of Famer, he comes cheap, as he's not eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season (Stanton earned $480,000 last year), and he's under team control for four more seasons.
A player of Stanton's stature, even in his situation, only gets shopped once in a blue moon.
In the event the Marlins put Stanton on the trade market, another club executive told Edes the Marlins asking price is three top prospects—given how valuable prospects are today, this could be considered a king's ransom. Furthermore, it also wouldn't be a surprise if the Marlins wanted players with little to no major league service time, which is six years of control, three before the player becomes arbitration eligible.
And let's say the Marlins wanted at least one top pitching prospect in return, then it seems nine teams could theoretically meet the Marlins' demands. In no particular order, these theoretical teams are:
- Boston: Although the Red Sox have signed free agents to contracts no longer than three years to maintain payroll flexibility this offseason, Stanton might be the one player who could sway management to give him a long-term deal if they dealt for him today. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would be the centerpiece, as Baseball Prospectus has pegged him as a potential All-Star, right-hander Matt Barnes could be the arm the Marlins want, as he's projected to be a No. 2 starter and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. could be in the mix.
- New York: The Mets replenished their farm system with the R.A. Dickey trade, but if they wanted to make a different splash, they could flip catcher Travis d'Arnaud and any combination of these arms (Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard) for Stanton.
- Seattle: The Mariners are desperate for a bonafide slugger to the point that they are moving the fences in at Safeco Field for the 2013 season. The Mariners have arms (RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Danny Hultzen and LHP James Paxton) and players who could play up the middle (SS/2B Nick Franklin, C Mike Zunino).
- San Diego: Petco Park kills power hitters, but Stanton is the rare player where ballparks are not an issue. The Padres have young, talented players the Marlins could choose from (1B Yonder Alonso, C Yasmani Grandal, RHP Casey Kelly, 3B Jedd Gyorko, OF Rymer Liriano, LHP Max Fried, or IF Cory Spangenberg).
- Pittsburgh: Andrew McCutchen can't do everything by himself. It would be nice if he had a partner, and Stanton might be the perfect fit. The Pirates two best prospects are right-handers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
- Arizona: If general manager Kevin Towers ever wanted to trade right fielder Justin Upton, he could flip his assets around and trade some of his inventory for the cheaper Stanton. LHP Tyler Skaggs, RHP Archie Bradley and third baseman Matt Davidson are the Diamondbacks' best prospects.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals have yet to replace Albert Pujols. Although it worked well last year, it wouldn't hurt to trade for a possible franchise player. The Cardinals have right fielder Oscar Taveras, RHP Shelby Miller, and RHP Carlos Martinez among their top prospects.
- Tampa Bay: The Rays are loaded after acquiring outfielder Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Odorizzi to go with shortstop Hak-Ju Lee in the James Shields trade. If they wanted a sure thing, they could trade any of those three or other smaller parts to obtain Stanton.
- Texas: There's a big hole in the Rangers' every day lineup now that Josh Hamilton has signed with the Angels. Stanton can fix that issue if general manager Jon Daniels is willing to part with any of the following: shortstop Jurickson Profar, third baseman Mike Olt, or right-hander Cody Buckel.
If the Marlins change their minds, they have every right to ask for the moon and then some in exchange for Stanton. And based on what the Marlins might want, it seems only a handful of teams could theoretically meet the Marlins' demands.