New York Mets fans are buzzing today with the thought of adding Miami Marlins right fielder, current divisional nemesis and majestic power hitter Giancarlo Stanton to their lineup in the near future.
While the possibility of a Mets-Marlins deal for Stanton isn't on the day-to-day radar, reports out of New York (via Andy Martino) have the Mets "monitoring" the situation as they continue to pursue a big-time outfielder after missing out on signing Michael Bourn and/or trading for Justin Upton this past winter.
If, or, more aptly, when Miami puts Stanton up for sale to the highest bidder, general manager Sandy Alderson and the Mets front office would be ridiculous to not pursue the 23-year-old superstar.
Yet their pursuit of an impact outfield bat likely won't end with a press conference introducing Stanton as the biggest Miami-to-New York acquisition since the Carlos Delgado trade.
Instead, look to the impending rebuilding effort in Colorado for the more likely Met outfield addition. Miami is a mess, but Colorado is the better bet to do business with New York in the short-term future.
The Marlins are unpredictable, shrewd and nefarious when it comes to fooling the city of Miami and current roster members. They aren't fools, though.
Stanton isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. That's nearly four full years of team control for a Marlins franchise that values nothing more than cheap, pre-arbitration-eligible players.
The demand for Stanton, still four years away from what could be a $200-million-plus deal, would be worth almost any combination of prospects a team could offer. For example, Travis d'Arnaud, the catching prospect rumored to be on Miami's radar in a hypothetical Stanton deal, is actually a year older than Stanton.
Upper management in Miami has three years to create buzz, rake in production for a fraction of the cost it's worth and generate a bidding war among every front office in baseball. Trading Stanton this summer would be premature for a team that is years away from contention. Of course, Stanton could force a move sooner than later due to displeasure with the Miami franchise and the lack of anything to hit in a putrid lineup.
New York doesn't have years to wait to add an outfielder. The demand for better talent, more wins and a payroll more in line with the market size and ticket costs is growing by the minute. Adding Stanton would show a commitment to winning, but the combination of prospect cost and time works against the Mets' rebuilding plan.
Colorado is off to a surprising start, sitting one game above .500 heading into Thursday's action. Don't expect that to last for a team devoid of pitching, lacking direction and facing long-term injury concerns with one of their two dynamic stars, Troy Tulowitzki.
Their other star, Carlos Gonzalez, can represent the jump start to an overdue rebuilding process. He can also represent an alternative to Stanton for the Mets.
Let's be clear: Stanton is the superior talent to Gonzalez.
Over the last three seasons (2010-2012), Stanton has posted a 141 OPS+, .901 OPS and slugged 93 home runs.
The fact that he was able to put up those numbers from age 20 to 22 isn't just eye-opening—it's remarkable across the history of the game.
Using Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, Stanton ranks sixth all-time in home runs by a player before his age-23 season. The five names ahead of him: Ott, Matthews, Rodriguez, Conigliaro and Frank Robinson.
On the other hand, Gonzalez has been a tremendous, game-altering offensive figure in Colorado. Yet his home-road splits, as with most Colorado hitters, represent a question mark if he were to change teams.
Since 2010, Gonzalez actually has a higher OPS (.918 to .901) than Stanton, a higher OBP than Josh Hamilton or Robinson Cano and a better wOBA than Albert Pujols.
According to FanGraphs' WAR, CarGo has been the 30th most valuable position player in baseball over that span.
The catch? Home-road splits.
Over his young career, CarGo is a .338/.395/.607 hitter in Coors Field compared to a .258/.313/.427 line on the road. In other words, he's Barry Bonds in Coors Field, but Marlon Byrd everywhere else.
That doesn't mean Gonzalez wouldn't hit or produce if traded. Similar concerns surrounded Matt Holliday when he was traded to Oakland and signed with St. Louis. The 2007 NL MVP runner-up had nearly a 200-point OPS drop from Coors to road games in 2007, yet he continues to hit as his career progresses.
While Stanton is cheap right now, his future earnings could reach unprecedented levels. On the other hand, Gonzalez is more expensive now (owed $71 million through 2017), but cost-predictable throughout his prime.
Most importantly for New York, Gonzalez could be more readily available through trade and cost considerably less in prospects.
If Stanton represents a great, franchise-changing get, Gonzalez could be a major piece to a future winning puzzle in New York.
Should the Mets trade prospects for an established outfielder?