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Will Healthy Giancarlo Stanton Be Auditioning for Midseason Blockbuster Trade?

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Will Healthy Giancarlo Stanton Be Auditioning for Midseason Blockbuster Trade?

After being out for over a month with a hamstring injury, slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton finally returned to the Miami Marlins lineup on Monday night.

Thus, we can resume asking one of our favorite questions: How long until the Marlins trade him? Generally, the answer is the same as always: soon. 

Specifically, though, the answer is probably not really soon. Stanton is a traded man walking in Miami, but counting on him to be dealt by the trade deadline is not recommended.

According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, prospective clubs are saying that the Marlins are still giving zero indication that they intend to trade the 23-year-old behemoth this season. They're sticking to their hard-to-get act.

The Marlins have their reasons. It's not like they have to worry about paying Stanton a massive salary; they're only on the hook to pay Stanton $537,000 this season before he goes to arbitration in the winter. 

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
Pictured: Marlins Park on a good night.

The Marlins also have their attendance to consider...or, maybe, "panic about" would be a better way of putting it.

According to ESPN.com, only the Cleveland Indians are doing worse than the Marlins in attendance in 2013. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated recently pointed out that 40 percent of Major League Baseball's overall attendance drop can be chalked up to the Marlins.

Stanton alone is not going to get the Marlins' attendance back up, but he's easily the team's best hope of attracting crowds to Marlins Park. Marlins fans can loathe Jeffrey Loria all they want, but even the most jilted fans have to admit that watching Stanton launch balls into the stratosphere is well worth the price of admission.

Video courtesy of MLB Advanced Media via MLB's official YouTube account.

But there's another reason that Stanton may not be going anywhere this season, and it has to do with the young outfielder himself. As much as everyone and their uncle want the Marlins to shop Stanton's talent, he may not have much of an interest in showcasing his talent.

Anthony Witrado of Sporting News hit the nail on the head:

Stanton made it clear last November that he was none too happy with the big trade the Marlins made with the Toronto Blue Jays. And before he got hurt, at least one scout thought Stanton was playing like a guy who was none too happy.

“He looked like he wants to play [in Miami] like I want to be at a dentist having a root canal," a National League scout told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Only Stanton knows the truth about that, but his pre-injury .227/.341/.387 slash line certainly didn't look very Stanton-ish. It's possible he was dogging it.

If so, then, shoot, things may not be any different in the months to come. The Marlins are only not an atrocious team when they play the New York Mets, and I for one can sympathize with Stanton if he isn't too keen on hitting the ball a mile to help the Marlins' bottom line.

My hunch, however, is that Stanton's numbers are going to pick up as the season progresses. Even if he isn't inspired to give the Marlins a 110 percent effort day after day, he has to know that it is in his best interest to produce. And the more dollars he puts himself in a position to make in arbitration, the greater his chances are of being traded to a team that doesn't stink.

Things could get interesting if Stanton comes back from his hamstring injury like he came back from knee surgery last year. He was en fuego, posting a 1.057 with 18 home runs in 43 games despite the fact he was being protected in Miami's lineup by Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Some Randomeguy.

If Stanton's bat catches fire over the next few weeks, the Marlins are going to have a tough choice to make: Trade Stanton while he's hot and healthy, or hold on to him and hope that an injury down the stretch doesn't ruin his winter trade stock?

This would depend on the offers. When Stanton first got hurt in April, an exec told Stark that a midseason trade wouldn't happen because the odds of the Marlins getting major league talent in return had gone way down.

That may still be true even if his bat starts smoldering, as teams in contention (i.e. those most inclined to make a deadline deal for Stanton) generally aren't in the habit of parting with their best big league talent.

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Even Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, long mentioned as a perfect Stanton trade chip, could be off limits. He's been playing second base in Ian Kinsler's absence, and the Rangers may be inclined to keep him around as an insurance policy given the fleeting nature of Kinsler's health.

If prospects are all teams are willing to offer Miami, you have to think the Marlins would be willing to risk it and just hold on to the young star. Shipping Stanton for prospects at the deadline is something that A) would kill whatever hope the Marlins have of salvaging some attendance revenue down the stretch, and B) they would be able to do just as easily over the winter in the weeks before arbitration.

Again, it really is just a matter of time before Giancarlo Stanton is dealt, but every indication is that the Marlins are in no rush to trade him during the 2013 season and the dominoes are going to have to fall just right in order for them to change their minds.

So here's hoping you like Stanton trade speculation. Odds are, it won't be letting up for a while.

 

Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

 

If you want to talk baseball, hit me up on Twitter. 

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