The 2017 National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, has stirred up numerous trade rumors this winter. The Marlins’ new ownership, which features Yankees legend Derek Jeter, is looking to move the slugger, as the franchise undergoes a rebuild process. The only issue is while Stanton’s 59 home runs and 132 RBIs make any front office giddy, he is signed for $295 million through 2027 (with an opt-out after 2020). The Marlins have a ridiculous asking price for Stanton, and with his full no-trade clause, there are several obstacles to overcome in order for a deal to take place. Anyhow, he has plenty of suitors, namely the Cardinals, Dodgers, Red Sox, Giants, and Phillies. I will go through each potential landing spot, and rank them based on the likelihood that Stanton ends up there.
5. San Francisco Giants
Stanton has voiced that he is tired of playing on mediocre teams and wants to play with winners. Though the Giants have had great success in the last decade, the franchise is in frantic free-fall. Last year, they were 67-75, good for last in the National League West. While many believe that 2017 was an outlier, the team is not set up particularly well for the near future. In 2018, their roster will feature the aging and quickly declining Hunter Pence, Denard Span, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzjia. Matt Moore doesn’t look like he will be able to return to the form of earlier in his career. Prized infield prospect Christian Arroyo batted just .192 in 54 games. Stanton is unlikely to accept a trade to San Francisco, considering their position for 2018 and beyond.
Of the MLB’s top 100 prospects, the Giants have just the aforementioned Arroyo at 56, and they are highly unlikely to let him go. The Giants already have over $150 million on the books for 2018, and though they could spend more money, I just don’t think they have anywhere near the assets needed to satisfy the Marlins’ high asking price.
4. Boston Red Sox
As far as contention goes, the Sox are up there with anyone in the league. They are coming off back-to-back AL East titles, and their young core remains intact. Perennial ace Chris Sale leads a fantastic rotation alongside Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello. Though Porcello struggled last season, I think he will return to his Cy Young form. Meanwhile, the outfield is crowded with studs Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Mookie Betts. They are all better defenders than Stanton, so if he found himself in Boston, he would assume DH duties. . It shouldn’t be an issue though, as Giancarlo has said he would not be opposed to DH’ing. Furthermore, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Benintendi, and Betts are all 25 years old or younger, and will only improve in the coming years. If Stanton wants to win, Boston is a great place to be.
The Sox only have two top 100 prospects which they could include in a deal for Stanton, but they could also flip 21 year old Devers, who just made his MLB debut in 2017. However, I highly doubt that Boston would give up any of their young big league talent like Devers or Benintendi. Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s president of baseball operations, also has a history of doling out big contracts. Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, Dustin Pedroia, and David Price all inked significant deals with Dombrowski, so maybe he would look past Stanton’s ridiculous contract and get a deal done with the Marlins. However, the Red Sox have recently been named as a long shot for Stanton due to the Marlins high asking price, so for the time being, I’d be surprised if he ends up at Fenway.
3. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have been terrorized by Stanton in the NL East ever since he broke into the bigs, so they would love to have him on their side for a change. The Phillies finished at 66-96 in 2017, also finishing last in their division. However, they have far more upside than the Giants. Their lineup is oozing with young talent, with names like Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera, and Maikel Franco. They also have plenty of prospects like Mickey Moniak and Sixto Sanchez who haven’t even cracked the big league roster yet. Their pitching staff is lacking, but it’s not the worst out there. They may not win the division in 2018, but they will be in the mix for plenty of years to come, even if they don’t acquire Stanton. If he does his research and the teams can work out a deal, I could definitely see Stanton accepting a deal to Philly.
If the Phillies are asked for top prospects in return for Stanton, they certainly have the resources to get a deal done. They have six top 100 prospects, so even if they have to let a few young studs go, there is plenty of talent to keep the Phillies competitive for a while. It is also doable for them to take on most of Stanton’s hefty contract. For 2018, the Phillies are free from Ryan Howard’s, Matt Harrison’s, Jeremy Hellickson’s, and Michael Saunders’ contracts. That’s more than $40 million cleared from the payroll, and while that may not seem like that much when considering Stanton’s contract, the Phillies’ roster is mostly comprised of young players who are still pre-arbitration and have very small salaries. Not that many see Philadelphia as a likely destination, but they are a serious dark horse.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
Earlier this month, it was reported that Stanton wouldn’t accept a trade to St. Louis or Boston, for undisclosed reasons. But it has also been said that those reports are untrue, so I am going to ignore that all-together. The Cards had a decent year in 2017, falling just short of the Wild Card game. They have some very good players who had down years in 2017, like Matt Carpenter Michael Wacha, and they will be supported by stars like Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez. Even without Stanton, the Cardinals should be competitive next season in a National League Central with the overrated Cubs and flukey Brewers, but his addition would easily make St. Louis favorites in the division.
The Cardinals’ farm system is very average. They have a couple of promising prospects, but nothing compared to the Phillies or Dodgers. They do have more salary space as Lance Lynn and Mike Leake are both out of the picture, so they could be willing to take on a significant chunk of Stanton’s contract. We also know from recent history that the current Cardinals ownership is not reluctant to writing big money checks in order to contend. Over the last decade, they signed Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday to big free agent deals and Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina to expensive extensions. Most of those contracts were also very long, just like Stanton’s. The Cards have also emerged as one of the more committed suitors for Stanton, so I see them as a frontrunner.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers seem like the only team that have the assets to get a deal done, and a team that Stanton would love to join. Stanton grew up around Los Angeles and has said that the Dodgers were his favorite team growing up. Furthermore, reports have emerged that Los Angeles is Stanton’s preferred destination, and I’m not surprised at all. It simply makes the most sense. Imagine going home to play for your favorite childhood team, the one that came within one game of a World Series championship in 2017 and will retain their most important pieces. How could he say no? He would be penciled into a lineup featuring Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Yasiel Puig, giving him more than enough protection. He would be playing with the best starting pitcher of this generation, Clayton Kershaw, and the best closer of 2017, Kenley Jansen. If the teams can work something out, it’s pretty much a guarantee that Stanton will allow the deal.
But working out the deal is the difficult part. After the trade deadline, MLB.com ranked the Dodgers’ farm system 10th overall. They could let go of big-time prospects Alex Verdugo, Walker Buehler, and/or Yadier Alvarez, but over the last few years, they have shown to be very reluctant to let go of their top prospects. While the decisions to hold onto Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger have paid off, it likely means they won’t take the risk. The Dodgers have been willing to write some big checks for free agents, but they are also looking to get under the luxury tax in 2018. Yet adding Stanton could make the Dodgers clear favorites to win it all for years to come, which might be too rich an opportunity to pass up.
Though Stanton trade talks seemed to be heating up a couple weeks ago, they have stalled recently. The general consensus is that the Marlins asking price is far too high, and though Stanton has a once in a generation power bat, no front office wants to give up their best prospects and take on nearly $300 million. This could all change as the winter progresses, but we will just have to wait and see what the Marlins do. But I think that one thing is for certain: if Stanton gets traded, his new team won’t regret the package they give up. Adding 59 home runs to your lineup is about as good a Christmas present as I could imagine.