Giancarlo Stanton could be waving goodbye to the Marlins.
Christmas is a week away, but it probably wouldn't be a surprise if a new home is on Giancarlo Stanton's wish list.
No, we're not referring the Miami Marlins right fielder to a local real estate agent, but rather a new baseball team.
After telling the other 29 Major League Baseball teams Stanton is untouchable numerous times, the Marlins should have second thoughts. After all, it's not every day an organization has the opportunity to
trade its 854th All-Star in 15 years kick-start its "new course"—as owner Jeffrey Loria termed it in November—after missing the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year.
But if Loria and the Marlins prefer to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, then consider us the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.
And we're here to show the Marlins three reasons why they should reconsider trading Stanton.
Giancarlo Stanton doesn't look happy. Could he be
In case anyone forgot, here's a refresher on what Stanton tweeted Nov. 13 after the Marlins traded Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays in a 12-player blockbuster fire sale:
It's clear Stanton is unhappy with the organization. A few days later, he told MLB.com's Peter Gammons how much he disliked the trade Loria and his henchmen completed.
"I do not like this at all," Stanton told Gammons, via MLB.com. "This is the 'winning philosophy?' Then to say it's not about money? What is the motivation? There comes a breaking point. I know how I feel. I can't imagine how the city and the fans feel."
It seems jettisoning everyone but Billy the Marlin was the straw that broke Stanton's back. Furthermore, it's been more than a month since the fire sale and by all indications, Stanton is still unhappy with what transpired.
If so, why would the Marlins want to hang on to someone who might not want to be a part of the organization's long-term future?
Sure, Stanton just turned 23 years old, has smacked 93 home runs in his first three years and his contract is dirt cheap, as he isn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season, but the Marlins can't force Stanton to stay in Miami. If Stanton wants to leave, he will bolt once he becomes a free agent after the 2016 season.
The eternal optimist might say the Marlins have time to change Stanton's mind. It's possible. Let's say, for instance, the Marlins offer Stanton a six-year, $70 million extension—the same deal former All-Star Hanley Ramirez signed a few years ago before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July. Stanton has no reason to put his John Hancock on documents the Marlins have a nasty habit of exchanging with other teams.
Stanton also told Gammons he can deal with losing as long as the organization was trying to win. However, after the Marlins traded away 12 major leaguers since July, Stanton doesn't think it's fair if the organization isn't trying to win.
It's hard to blame Stanton for the way he feels. Heck, many might say it's the Marlins' own fault for alienating the future face of the franchise. So, even though it might be bad business—Stanton might be the only reason for fans to show up at Marlins Park—it's counter-productive for the Marlins to keep an unhappy superstar.
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.
The Washington Nationals celebrate winning the 2012 NL East title. With the Nationals, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies chasing the division crown, it will be a while before the Marlins can think about winning.
The Marlins knew they couldn't win in 2013. Or in 2014. Maybe even in 2015.
It's why they completed the roster demolition in the fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last month.
That took guts. But their work might not be finished because by the time the Marlins are ready to be competitive again, Stanton might be too expensive to keep. And that's assuming many clubs in the National League lack staying power, which doesn't seem to be the case any more.
For starters, take the Washington Nationals. They became relevant a year early, won the National League East and have a future brighter than sunshine. Recently acquired Denard Span doesn't become a free agent until at least the 2014 offseason. The following season, starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, closer Tyler Clippard and shortstop Ian Desmond could hit the open market. In 2016, that list could include left-hander Gio Gonzalez, second baseman Danny Espinosa and one Stephen Strasburg. And we haven't even discussed outfielders Jayson Werth (2017), Bryce Harper (2018) and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (team option for 2020 season).
The future is not as bright in Atlanta, but the Braves won't have to worry about outfielder Jason Heyward, left-handed reliever Jonny Venters and starting right-hander Kris Medlen becoming free agents until after the 2015 season. The next year, it's first baseman Freddie Freeman, starting right-hander Brandon Beachy and closer Craig Kimbrel. The Braves also control center fielder B.J. Upton and starting pitcher Mike Minor through 2017 and shortstop Andrelton Simmons through 2018.
Stepping outside the NL East, the Cincinnati Reds control first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips, right fielder Jay Bruce and starting pitchers Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto through at least the 2015 season. The St. Louis Cardinals might have to rebuild the pitching staff after next season, but they should be able to hit as Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and David Freese are under their control through at least the 2015 season as well.
In the NL West, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey will hang with starting pitchers Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner until at least 2016 when Posey is eligible for free agency. The Giants' rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have right-hander Zack Greinke, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and outfielders Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier locked up through at least the 2017 season—and that's not even accounting for the gobs of money they will surely throw at Clayton Kershaw and other potential free agents.
Considering what the rest of the landscape looks like, it makes no sense to keep Stanton until he becomes too expensive, then watch him leave for nothing after the 2016 season or trade him in a couple seasons when his value is much lower.
The best move might be to strike now while the iron is hot. If the Marlins acquire prospects now, they won't become free agents until the 2018 offseason.
By then, the Marlins should be able to gather more than enough assets to become a serious contender, while the rest of the field might be on the road to reconstruction.