Not too many teams have the package of players it would take to acquire Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The Texas Rangers are one of the few that probably do and, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are trying to lay the groundwork for a future deal.
The Rangers are doing early reconnaissance and prep work on what it would take to land Giancarlo Stanton down the road.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 14, 2013
The 23-year-old Stanton, who has 93 homers through his first 382 big league games, is the main attraction in Miami after Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle were all traded in the span of four months last year.
After the blockbuster trade in November that sent some of the team’s best players packing, Stanton was not a happy camper.
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
At the time, there was speculation that the Marlins would continue to clean house and could trade their only remaining star player. That hasn’t happened, though, and Stanton is just 5-for-30 without a homer for the last-place Marlins. He’s also missed the last few days with a shoulder contusion.
Still, Stanton is easily one of the top power hitters in the game. He’s capable of hitting 50-plus homers on a good offensive team in a less pitcher-friendly ballpark. New Marlins manager Mike Redmond recognized Stanton's light tower power right off the bat.
Quote of the day candidate, from Mike Redmond on Giancarlo Stanton’s BP: “His mistakes go 420 feet.”— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 23, 2013
The Marlins are a bad team with or without Stanton. The Marlins fanbase will not support this team with or without Stanton. So that begs the question, should they shop him to the highest bidder now while his value is at his highest with nearly four years of team control on his contract?
While they've said they're not interested in trading him, according to this Peter Gammons tweet, it doesn't mean it's true. Any good general manager is willing to at least listen on any player. They could get an offer they can't refuse. You just never know, so saying a player is "untouchable" isn't always the smartest thing to do.
A package led by Jurickson Profar, Baseball Prospectus’ choice for top prospect in baseball, and third baseman Mike Olt would set the Marlins up on the left side of the infield for the next six years—or until they decided to trade either.
I wrote about some Profar trade ideas recently, with the idea being that he’d have more value to another organization as their starting shortstop as opposed to the Rangers’ starting second baseman.
There’s no question that a deal led by those two and possibly two other top prospects in the lower minors would be enticing. Prospects Lewis Brinson, an 18-year-old potential five-tool center fielder, and Ronald Guzman, another 18-year-old with a very advanced bat from the left side, are years away but have All-Star potential.
Would four of the top nine prospects from one of the top farm systems in baseball be enough for Stanton?
Such a deal could push the Marlins into the top tier of farm systems in baseball. They’re currently ranked 11th by Baseball Prospectus, although the arrival of Jose Fernandez and the expected arrival of outfield prospect Christian Yelich later in the year could drop them some in the rankings.
It won’t matter from the Marlins’ perspective because they will have some impressive—and inexpensive—young talent to put on the field in 2014 with more prospects on the way in the years to follow. Here’s a look at a potential 2014 Miami Marlins team without Stanton and with Profar and Olt.
Marlins 2014 Starting Lineup
- SS Jurickson Profar
- LF Chris Coghlan
- CF Christian Yelich
- 3B Mike Olt
- 1B Logan Morrison
- RF Justin Ruggiano
- C Rob Brantly
- 2B Donovan Solano/Adeiny Hechavarria
Position Player Prospects Knocking on the Door
CF Jake Marisnick, OF Marcell Ozuna, C J.T. Realmuto
Marlins 2014 Starting Rotation
- RHP Jose Fernandez
- RHP Nate Eovaldi
- LHP Wade LeBlanc
- RHP Henderson Alvarez
- RHP Jacob Turner
Pitching Prospects Knocking on the Door
LHP Justin Nicolino, LHP Andrew Heaney
That's still not good enough to get out of the NL East cellar, in my opinion. But keeping Stanton around won't make them better than a fourth-place team. Unless they're planning another spending spree, as they've done occasionally in Miami, it probably makes sense from an organizational perspective to look towards 2015 and beyond.
Does this make sense, however, from the Rangers’ perspective?
They are currently set at the outfield corners with Nelson Cruz and David Murphy. Although Murphy is slumping (8-for-50), he had an impressive .859 OPS in 2012 and should get every chance to break out of his rut and remain a lineup regular throughout the season.
If designated hitter Lance Berkman is able to play first base a couple times per week—he has yet to play a game there—manager Ron Washington could potentially find enough at-bats to go around between Berkman, Cruz, Murphy and Mitch Moreland with Stanton in the everyday lineup. If Leonys Martin continues to struggle at the plate, Murphy could also make some starts in center field.
Looking ahead to 2014, the move makes a lot more sense considering Cruz and Murphy will be free agents and the Rangers don’t appear to have in-house replacements. Stanton would be their starting right fielder through at least 2016.
As for how this year’s lineup would look …
Rangers 2013 Starting Lineup
- 2B Ian Kinsler
- SS Elvis Andrus
- DH/1B Lance Berkman
- 3B Adrian Beltre
- RF Giancarlo Stanton
- LF/DH Nelson Cruz
- C AJ Pierzynski
- 1B Mitch Moreland
- CF Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry
Bench: David Murphy would make a few starts per week at LF or CF.
There’s no question that the move makes the 2013 Rangers more formidable. Washington gets to play the hot hand by moving Murphy around. He gets to rest the veteran Berkman, and the injury-prone Cruz could get some time as the designated hitter. Adding a legit power threat like Stanton should make the entire lineup better.
Ticket sales at the Ballpark in Arlington should also increase as fans flock to hopefully see a Stanton home run. As you've probably already heard, the ball just sounds different coming off of his bat. His batting practice displays might be worth the price of admission.
Who wins this potential trade?
I'm calling this a win-win trade. The Marlins' window of contention isn't affected by losing Stanton and they plug in potential perennial All-Stars at shortstop and third base. The Rangers improve in 2013 and fill what would've been a huge hole going into the offseason.
So Stanton for Profar, Olt, Brinson and Guzman. Who says no?