With Upton Traded, Will the Marlins Get a Godfather Offer for Giancarlo Stanton?
The location: Marlins Park, home of the Miami Marlins.
The slugger: 23-year-old right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season.
When supply is low and demand is high, simple economics dictate it would cost a tidy sum to obtain Stanton's services from the Marlins—even if the Marlins deny Stanton is on the market.
"Oh, I think that's been our [modus operandi]. I know in the 10 years I've been here, that's our M.O.," Marlins assistant general manger Dan Jennings said last month on the Front Office show with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (via Joe Frisaro):
We've never not listened to a deal on any player. Sometimes I chuckle when I hear people say, "This guy's untouchable," and "That guy's untouchable." You know what? They may be untouchable, until someone either overwhelms you or you get a package back that makes such a significant improvement on your club going forward. So we've always been willing to listen.
Based on what happened during the Upton trade talks, it appears there are teams who not only need Stanton, but who would also benefit having him on their side as well.
But, to pry Stanton away from the Marlins, someone will have to do his best Don Corleone impersonation and say, "I'm gonna make (Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest) an offer he can't refuse."
The team most likely to give the Marlins everything but the kitchen sink is the Seattle Mariners.
Since the Mariners announced they were moving the fences in at Safeco Field for the 2013 season, they have built their offseason plans around adding more offense. Considering how the Mariners have fared scoring runs the last five years, it's understandable why the Mariners want to add more juice to their attack:
2012: .234 batting average (worst in baseball), 3.82 runs per game (27th out of 30 teams)
2011: .233 (last), 3.43 runs (30th)
2010: .236 (last), 3.17 runs (30th)
2009: .258 (24th), 3.95 runs (28th)
2008: .265 (13th), 4.14 runs (26th)
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has already signed former All-Star outfielders Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez and traded for Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse, but none of them are Stanton, a crown jewel on any team.
Bay hasn't been productive since 2009, his last season with the Boston Red Sox. Ibanez's last great year also happens to be 2009 when he hit .272 with 34 home runs and 93 RBI in his first season as a Philadelphia Phillie. Morse is 30, set to be a free agent after the 2013 season and has had one good year (.303 batting average, 31 home runs, 95 RBI in 2011), while Morales had his ups and downs in 2012 (.273 batting average, 22 home runs, 73 RBI), his first season back from a broken left leg.
Zduriencik tried to trade for Upton about three weeks ago, but Upton nixed the deal as the Mariners were one of four teams on Upton's no-trade list. Had that deal gone through, the Arizona Diamondbacks would've gotten middle infielder Nick Franklin, left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, right-hander Stephen Pryor and one of the Big Three—right-hander Taijuan Walker and lefties Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.
If that was the going rate for Upton, who is 25 years old and has three years, $38.5 million left in his contract, then the Marlins might have every right to ask for the Mariners farm system. Literally.
The Mariners' top five prospects are, according to Baseball Prospectus, Walker, catcher Mike Zunino, Hultzen, Franklin and Paxton. Zunino won't be available in a trade until July 2 since players can't be traded for a year after signing a pro contract, according to The Seattle Times' Larry Stone.
In the aftermath of the Upton trade, if the Mariners call the Marlins and the Marlins say they want Walker, Hultzen, Franklin, Paxton and a player to be named later (Zunino) for Stanton, that would probably be the ultimate Godfather offer. Then, the question becomes, who blinks first?
It wouldn't be surprising if Zduriencik swallows hard and agrees to such a deal. After all, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden believes Zduriencik is an executive who is on the hot seat.
Prediction: 60 percent chance the Mariners will send an offer the Marlins can’t refuse. It's just a matter of what prospects the Marlins receive.
Perhaps Stanton can replace Hamilton and be the Rangers' missing piece to a World Series title.
When the Diamondbacks dangled Upton to the Rangers, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal said the Rangers had a five-player deal headlined by third baseman Mike Olt before Upton invoked his no-trade clause in the Mariners' proposal. Along with Olt, the Rangers were going to send a top pitching prospect—left-hander Martin Perez or right-hander Cody Buckel—shortstop Leury Garcia and one other prospect.
Notice who wasn't in that package: Rangers shortstops Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. Rosenthal said the Rangers' preference was to acquire Upton without involving Andrus or Profar. But when the Diamondbacks asked that Andrus or Profar be included in any deal, the Rangers rejected the trade demand knowing 2012 American League Cy Young award winner David Price and Stanton would become available within the next year, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
Well, if the Rangers called the Marlins about Stanton, it would probably cost general manager Jon Daniels a lot more than what he was willing to give up for Upton.
For starters, Profar has to be the centerpiece of any Stanton trade to Texas. In fact, ESPN's Jim Bowden believed last month that a swap of Profar, Olt and Perez for Stanton and Ricky Nolasco needed to be made.
But that was before Upton was shipped to Atlanta. Now, the Rangers would probably need to add Buckel into the deal since the Marlins have more leverage.
About the only leverage the Rangers have is time. They know the crew they have assembled for the 2013 season is good enough to make a run for the postseason. Then, by the July 31 trade deadline, Daniels can assess what the Rangers lack and allocate his resources to fill the need, whether it's Price, Stanton or a smaller piece of the puzzle. And if Price and Stanton are available after the 2013 season, he can make another run at those blue-chippers in the offseason.
Prediction: 30 percent chance the Rangers will send an offer the Marlins can’t refuse. The key will be if the Rangers can part with Profar.
While there were no other teams hotter on Upton's trail than the Mariners, Braves and Rangers, it doesn't mean the rest of Major League Baseball can't make a Godfather offer to the Marlins for Stanton.
When dealing with a player of Stanton's stature, you just never know when a team might fly in from under the radar and shock the world with a deal to acquire Stanton. But here are a few wild cards in the potential Stanton sweepstakes:
The organization has failed to post a winning season for 20 consecutive years, and ESPN's Jim Bowden thinks general manager Neal Huntington is another executive on the hot seat.
Throw in the fact the Pirates have collapsed in the second half in each of the last two years and that center fielder Andrew McCutchen could use some help (hit .254 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in the final two months after posting a .371 batting average with 22 home runs and 66 RBI in the first four months) in the lineup, and the potential is there for a deal.
The Pirates must begin any offer with right-handers Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last month, Bowden felt another move that needed to be made was for the Cardinals to acquire Carlos Gonzalez. Also, Carlos Beltran is a free agent at the end of the 2013 season and has already stated his desire to remain with the organization, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.
But Beltran is 35, so if the Cards want to make a run at Stanton, then their offer to the Marlins should involve outfielder Oscar Taveras and right-handers Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and/or Trevor Rosenthal.
Boston Red Sox
Before Upton was traded to Atlanta, Bowden thought the Boston Red Sox could've landed the talented slugger. Well, the Red Sox could get Stanton instead. All it might take is a starting offer of shortstop Xander Bogaerts, center fielder Jackie Bradley and right-handers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster.
Another team the Diamondbacks have spoken to on-and-off for months has been the Padres, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. The two clubs had discussed an Upton for Chase Headley deal, but the Marlins probably don't want Headley since he's 28 and two years away from free agency.
However, the Padres have plenty of good young players to offer (first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal, right-hander Casey Kelly, third baseman Jedd Gyorko, outfielder Rymer Liriano and left-hander Max Fried) if they want to get a deal for Stanton completed.
Prediction: 10 percent chance any other team besides the Mariners and Rangers will send an offer the Marlins can't refuse. It's possible a trade might surface, but the Marlins will also probably have to settle for less.