Speculation started swirling before the Miami Marlins slugger clubbed 59 runs en route to winning this year's National League MVP award. They intensified when new ownership, led publicly by Derek Jeter, took over the organization.
In early September, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported their intent on slashing the team payroll down to as low as $55 million from their end-of-season rate of approximately $117 million, per Spotrac.
According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, it's also possible Miami moves its superstar before the winter meetings begin on Dec. 10. If not, he suggested teams will begin to "branch out and more actively explore their Plan B's" in Florida.
For now, the hot stove still revolves around Stanton. He's the natural starting spot for the latest MLB rumor roundup.
Giants, Cardinals Working to Land Giancarlo Stanton
No team hit fewer home runs than the San Francisco Giants, who produced 128 long balls led by Brandon Belt's 18. They need a big-time power boost, and they don't come more powerful than Stanton.
Despite finishing with an NL-worst 64 wins, the Giants appear to have no interest in rebuilding. Instead, they're trying to soar back into contention with a major splash.
Per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, they have made an offer the Marlins would accept if the NL West squad covers the seismic bill:
Stanton's contract isn't the only hurdle; he can block any trade with his full no-trade clause. Per Morosi, he would prefer to join San Francisco's division foe, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On Thursday night, SiriusXM's Craig Mish reported that Giants front-office members met with Stanton's camp in Los Angeles. The following morning, he added that he did not hear of a completed deal prompting them to seek the star's approval:
While MLB.com respectively ranks Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede as San Francisco's No. 2 and 3 prospects, that's more telling of one of baseball's weakest farm systems. Salary relief and Joe Panik, an affordable 27-year-old second baseman who batted .282/.347/.421 with 2.0 FanGraphs WAR in 2017, are the package's real draws.
On Friday night, he added the St. Louis Cardinals to the mix:
St. Louis could leverage some of its young lineup depth in a package led by a young pitcher such as Jack Flaherty. While the organization has a better future outlook than San Francisco, it also missed the playoffs in 2017 and must contend with the Chicago Cubs.
According to the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer, the Marlins threatened Stanton with the punishment of still having to play for the Marlins. They reportedly told him that refusing a trade could compel them to keep the MVP and gut the rest of the roster—younger and cheaper outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich could elicit even more trade interest—to meet their payroll goals.
There are still obstacles preventing a potential accord, so hold off on Photoshopping Stanton in a Giants or Cardinals uniform.
Red Sox, White Sox Discuss Jose Abreu
Stanton isn't the only slugger who could relocate to a contender. While the Chicago White Sox have cashed in most of their top trade chips during an aggressive rebuild, they still hold one more star in Jose Abreu.
Having already dealt Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier, it makes sense to also trade a first baseman who turns 31 before Opening Day.
A career .301/.359/.525 hitter with at least 25 home runs and 100 RBI in each of his four major league campaigns, the Cuban native should draw considerable interest if dangled on the open market.
According to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman, the Boston Red Sox have already checked in on the steady middle-of-the-lineup contributor.
Per FanGraphs, Boston's first basemen collectively placed No. 26 at the position with a .322 weighted on-base average (wOBA). The club might not be in any rush to retain free agent Mitch Moreland after he submitted a middling .246/.326/.443 slash line in 2017.
That likely presents an unworkable roadblock for the Red Sox, who have either promoted or traded a majority of their blue-chip prospects. The White Sox can attest, as Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech lead their stacked crop of up-and-coming players.
Boston may have to contain its search to free agency, where Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana headline a deep class of available first basemen. Since Abreu is still arbitration eligible for two more years, Chicago should not rush to send him to the highest bidder this winter.
Rays Clearing House?
While the Tampa Bay Rays stayed in the American League's crowded wild-card hunt for most of 2017, they finished 80-82 with a minus-10 run differential. As a small-market organization watching the Red Sox and New York Yankees rekindle their storied rivalry for AL East supremacy, they can't afford to stay in the middle of the pack.
Per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are poised to retool after falling short of the postseason for the fourth straight year.
"The Rays are going to trade at least a couple of their bigger-name, higher-salaried players in their plan to cut payroll," Topkin wrote. "Starter Jake Odorizzi (projected to make $6.5 million) and closer Alex Colome ($5.5M) are two of the most likely to go and have been popular in early conversations. OF/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4M) also seems high on the to-trade list."
If true, most contenders will remain in contact with Rays general manager Erik Neander during the offseason.
Although he posted an unsettling 5.43 fielding independent pitching (FIP) in 2017, per FanGraphs, Odorizzi owns a 3.83 career ERA and has made at least 28 starts in four consecutive seasons. Former teammate Alex Cobb is one of a select few free agents who can inspire more interest for pitching-needy squads.
Colome's MLB-leading 47 saves may hide his regression from a breakout 2017. His ERA and FIP rose from 1.91 and 2.92 to 3.24 and 3.37, respectively, on account of registering more walks (3.11) and fewer strikeouts (7.83) per nine innings. Yet he's still an affordable closer who turns 29 on New Year's Eve, so he's an appealing option for those who miss out on top free-agent relievers.
Morosi said the Cardinals have spoken to Tampa Bay about Colome. He also wondered whether talks would expand to inquire about the Rays' franchise centerpiece:
Drafted in 2006, Longoria represents a rare Rays lifer. He made a long-term relationship possible by signing a team-friendly contract through 2022 with a 2023 club option, per Spotrac.
Yet keeping the 32-year-old around for the duration of a back-loaded deal may no longer look favorable after the third baseman batted .261/.313/.424 with 20 home runs, his lowest tally in a full season with over 75 games played.
It's still more likely the Rays explore offers for Dickerson, who cratered from a torrid start by hitting .242/.282/.408 after the All-Star break. Since he's 28 years old with two more years of team control, the designated hitter should reserve some trade value.