Trading Giancarlo Stanton

It leaked out over the weekend that the Miami Marlins are “willing to listen” to offers on their sole remaining star player, Giancarlo Stanton, which is, of course, very different from actively trying to trade him or shopping him around. The Marlins, this offseason, have sabotaged any chance to compete this upcoming season in yet another rebuilding effort, but to this point, have stopped short of trading Stanton, who is their one remaining draw for fans and likely the only above-average position player in their everyday lineup.

So the question remaining is why, and for how long?

For the Marlins, it appears to be a question not of if they trade Stanton, but when? There is the outside possibility that they could hold on to him for the four years remaining in his contract, and if the Marlins get back to being competitive during that time and shift their organizational philosophy back to 2012 mode, they could re-sign him. But that would be a very un-Marlins thing to do.

It’s understandable for the Marlins not to want to trade Stanton, the only marketable asset on their roster. That Wade LeBlanc banner hanging outside the stadium isn’t exactly bringing in fans. And while it may not be their best decision to hold on to him much longer, the Marlins haven’t exactly been in the business of making the best baseball decisions lately.

Given that they have gone mostly-all-in on their rebuilding process by trading every valuable asset outside of Stanton, there is little reason to keep him at this point. After all, the difference between 62 wins and 67 doesn’t really do them any good. And if they can turn Stanton into a few pieces for their future, for example a couple of potential three- or four-win players, then they need to do it.

Which brings us to the real question here. What should the Marlins hold out for in a trade for their best player?

We don’t have a lot of precedent for a player who has been worth 12-13 wins through just his first three seasons getting traded with so many years remaining before free agency.

Roberto Alomar had 11.7 wins through his first three seasons when, before the 1991 season, he and Joe Carter were traded to the Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. That wasn’t a prospect deal, so it’s tough to gauge our return from that. Mat Latos got traded at a similar time in his career but was only a 7.5 win player to that point in his career, and the Padres still landed a big league starter, a nice bullpen arm, their starting first baseman and their catcher of the future.

Mark Teixeira got his career off to a similarly hot start as Stanton, but the Rangers waited until he had just a year-and-a-half of team control left and still landed Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in their deal. You can read Baseball America’s full write-up of that trade from 2007 here, but needless to say, it was a big package at the time and became an even bigger one as Feliz and Andrus fulfilled their potential.

If that’s the price that’s been set here, then only a few teams even have the goods to land Stanton. I had a little fun breaking down each team’s chances over the weekend, but in reality, regardless of need or room in their outfield, most teams would consider acquiring Stanton while few have the prospects to get a deal done. Furthering the complications is that the Marlins aren’t likely to take much major league talent in return unless it’s cheap (like Henderson Alvarez in their earlier deal with the Blue Jays), because their window for competing clearly isn’t for a few years. Adding talent that will be hitting arbitration by 2014-15 defeats their purpose.

I’ve long advocated that, when a team blows itself up or trades its best asset(s) in a rebuilding deal, it must get a centerpiece for its next competitive team. For instance, in the Latos deal, the Padres got back Yasmani Grandal, who is a potential all-star catcher, and Yonder Alonso, who isn’t an all-star but could still develop into an average major league first baseman. And Stanton is almost twice as valuable as Latos was at the same point in his career.

This was my issue with the Marlins trade with the Blue Jays. While they got a lot of interesting talent and potential, Jake Marisnick is still a significant risk to not pan out at all and Adeiny Hechavarria is a nice player but won’t be a cornerstone type. There is no guarantee that, in a trade that eliminated any chance of them being competitive for at least the next two years, they got any of the best players on their next competitive team, and that’s not good. They can’t afford for that to happen again if they move their only remaining asset.

Especially when it’s an asset this valuable.

When it comes down to it, Stanton has about as much trade value as any player in the game not named Trout or Harper. If the Marlins are going to trade him, they need not one but probably two cornerstone pieces of their next competitive team. Not every organization has that in its farm system.

The Phillies, for instance, would love nothing more than to land Stanton, but even if the Marlins were willing to trade him within their division (I have no idea about their thoughts on this), the Phillies don’t have that kind of talent left in their farm system. And that’s even if you still think Domonic Brown can be that type of player.

A package for Stanton would have to include, ironically, something like what the Rangers could offer (but likely won’t), using Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar as the centerpieces of a deal. Dangling Profar (something the Rangers have been extremely reluctant to do) would get the Marlins on the phone and offering Profar and Olt would get them listening intently, although still might not get the deal done. It would be a solid start though.

Or the Red Sox, for instance, could use Xander Bogaerts as a centerpiece of an offer, one that would still likely need to include at least either Matt Barnes or Jackie Bradley.

If the Marlins move Stanton, they must be sure to do it right. When they cleaned house after their last title and traded Josh Beckett, they got Hanley Ramirez in return. If they’re going to make a similar move, they need to get a similar centerpiece-type player they can build around. Trading a promising young player to aid in a rebuilding process can help speed that process up by a year or two if done right, but if done wrong, it can set them back just as far.

Listening, and eventually trading Stanton, isn’t a bad move, but for the future of the Marlins, it’s essential that they get it right.

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Comments

  1. Aaron Leight said...

    Thanks for the read. I know it won’t happen, but does a Marte, Taillon & Polanco package bring him to Pittsburgh? I don’t personally believe it’s enough, but it’s something I’ve had a couple debates about. Let me know your thinking.

  2. DonM said...

    How about Kevin Gausman, Chris Davis and Jake Arrieta (or Matusz, or Tillman, or Zach Britton)… okay, Reimold could be thrown in for good measure… for Stanton?

  3. Chuck said...

    The funniest part of this article is the assumption that the Marlins are trying in good faith to build a future contender.

  4. Aaron Leight said...

    I went to high school with Reimold. Following his career has been a headache, I can’t even imagine living it. Hopefully this is finally the year where the speed bumps get paved over and he’s able to showcase his abilities. I don’t think he’s an All-Star, but I think he could definitely produce well enough to stick at the major league level.

    And Chuck – I couldn’t agree more. It’s obvious they are in full Expos-mode here, and who can blame them with a terrible fan base? It’s the city’s fault for allowing him to drain them of the stadium money. If a 27 year old college dropout can see it coming, why can’t an entire administration? Oh well – I don’t feel bad for the Marlin-faithfuls. As a resident of Pittsburgh, I’ve watched our team nickel and dime their way to mediocrity for decades. A glimmer of hope twinkles in the eye of Neil Huntington, but it’s only a matter of time before Nutting murders any hope of a better tomorrow.

    Gotta love baseball.

  5. Jeff Moore said...

    Aaron,

    I actually think the Pirates would be a perfect for for a Stanton trade, but like you, don’t think they’ll pull the trigger.  One of the problems is that, even if they wanted to, the Pirates have consistently over-valued their own assets in trade negotiations and consistently low-ball other clubs.  One NL GM told me a couple years ago that he hates dealing with Huntington because his offers are almost laughable and there’s always so much ground to make up between the two sides.  We saw this earlier this winter when reports leaked out that the Pirates offered the Mariners Garrett Jones for Taijuan Walker.

    http://www.mlbprospectwatch.com/mlb_prospect_watch/2012/12/how-far-off-were-the-pirates-in-their-offer-of-garrett-jones-for-taijuan-walker.html

    A package of Marte, Taillon and Polanco would certainly be a good start, and with a few lesser prospects sprinkled in I think it would get a deal done, if only Huntington would offer it.  I can’t imagine he will.

    I actually believe that the Pirates farm system is deep enough to pull off a trade for Stanton without touching Gerrit Cole or Marte.  The Marlins might hold out for Marte, but if the Pirates packaged some combination of Taillon, Polanco, Alen Hanson, Dilson Herrera Luis Heredia, and a major league ready starter (either Locke or McPherson), I think the Marlins still bite.  They shouldn’t trade all of them, but an offer of Taillon, choose one between Polanco/Hanson, choose one between Herrera/Heredia, and choose one between Locke/McPherson is a lot of talent.  It would give the Marlins a bona fide pair of potential aces (along with Jose Fernandez) for their future, a realistically projectable star in Polanco/Hanson, a big time lottery ticket in either Herrera or Heredia, and a low-end starter who can contribute in 2013, which they still need more of.

    Putting the exact names aside, I think the Pirates could acquire Stanton without having to give up Cole or Marte, and even if that required most of their organizational depth, it might be worth it.  When we talk about competing, especially for low-budget teams like the Pirates, we’re talking about windows.  It’s important to line up the windows of player’s primes and affordability at the same time.  The Brewers knew their window wasn’t going to be open for long so they went after CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke while they still had their shot.  If the Pirates got Stanton, they’d have a legitimate four year window that would involve the 23-26 yr old seasons of Stanton, the 26-29 yr old seasons of McCutchen, the 22-25 yr old seasons of Cole, and the 24-27 yr old seasons of Marte. 

    That’s an impressive four-year window.

  6. shibboleth said...

    DonM, I had a similar thought, but I was unable to come upon a package I would accept as Marlins GM.  Afraid I’d want Bundy involved somehow…

    Does anyone think Stanton for Bundy would be a reasonable basis for a trade?

  7. A.B. said...

    What about the Tigers?  Castellanos, Avisail Garcia and Porcello/Smyly?  Garcia showed great promise at the end of the season and Porcello is a solid starting pitcher who is only 24.  Castellanos is regarded as a top 10 Prospect.  Or have the Tigers burned the Marlins with their “Top” Flight prospects (Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin come to mind in the Miguel Cabrera deal).  Of course that would deplete the Tigers farm system, but would vault them to being a clear favorite for the World Series.

  8. Mike G said...

    Jeff – great article, nice background info.  I do think he may be traded before ST (as crazy as that seems), and I do think this may be one of those rare deals where the Pirates might be uniquely able to get something done, for all of the reasons you gave above.

    However, I think that teams will stare at the equation “Giancarlo Stanton =…….” for so long that nothing will actually get done.  It’s almost better to spread this out to an even larger deal on both sides, and try to find other Marlins problems to “solve” at the same time, not just ‘what is Stanton really worth?’.

    Their other real problem (other than PR and getting people to come out for the next year or so) is Ricky Nolasco’s $11.5 mil salary next year, which has almost negative trade value at this point.  From everything that’s been said, the sole reason he isn’t gone already in the $$ purge is an appeasement to his best friend on the team…….Stanton.  If Stanton goes, then Nolasco has to go immediately, either (ideally) in the same deal or elsewhere, fast.  There would be no reason (and no excuse, really) to keep him then, and he is otherwise going to be hard to trade for value by himself.

    Again, I think the Pirates can use and can take Nolasco for next year as a starter, full salary.  Now you’ve made the return for the Marlins something more than just Stanton =X.

    The only other ‘problem’ (not necessarily a big one) is that I get the impression that Logan Morrison needs a change of scenery.  Always seems to be underperfoming there – I know the owner loves him (from what I’ve heard), not sure the fans aren’t disappointed in his production so far.  Again, with Stanton, the Bucs might be willing to “trade down” a bit at 1B and take him.  Low cost for now.

    Pirates could offer them a relatively low cost upgrade at 1B in Garrett Jones, who they’ve been thinking about moving (more for escalating cost reasons, even though he’s still only projected to make $4+ mil in arb next year.

    So, along the lines you laid out in your response to Aaron above, but in a bigger package, I’d say Bucs get Stanton, Nolasco & LoMo, and Marlins get:

    Jameson Taillion – who would become the Marlins’ new #1 prospect – MLB ready, late 2013
    ONE of – #3 Bucs prospect SS Alen Hanson or SS Dilson Herrera (top 10 on most lists)
    ONE of #5 prospect OF Gregory Polanco, #6 OF Josh Bell or #9 OF Barrett Barnes
    ONE of #7 prospect SP Justin Wilson or #8 SP Kyle McPherson (both MLB-ready), OR MLB-ready Jeff Locke

    I would be willing to add another prospect in the #11-#20 range, too, maybe a choice of closer/RPs Bryan Morris or Victor Black, MLB-ready in 2013. (or another pitcher, ready later)

    (NOTE: using Mayo’s/MLB.com’s prospect rankings)

    AND……
    1B Garrett Jones (only if LoMo comes back to replace him as part of deal)(control thru 2015)
    RF Travis Snider – MLB-ready starter in right, min salary (control thru 2015)(I’d hate to see him go so soon, but he has to in this deal)
    OF Jose Tabata – improved MLB OF depth (or could possibly start for Marlins in LF), $1 mil salary in 2013,(under contract thru 2019 w/escalating salaries)

    So, for 2013, the Marlins get: 2 SPs (including an ace/#1 starter in Taillon), 1 closer/RP, a starting 1B, a starting RF, and potentially a starting LF (but definitely upgraded 4th OF).

    That’s 6 guys on your starter/active roster in 2013 for less than $7.5 million, total (!)  AND (don’t underestimate this piece) the Marlins shed $12.5 million in return, for another net payroll save of $5 million.

    For the future, they also get (depending on their choices) something like the Bucs #3, #5, and #7 (unless they take Locke).

    Lower prospects or cash can always sweeten the deal if necessary.

    I would schedule a conference call w/Neal Huntington, McCutcheon, Marte and AJ Burnett on one end of the line, and Stanton, Nolasco, LoMo and the Marlins’ GM on the other, then ask the two GMs to take a walk and have Cutch/Marte/AJ close the deal to come play for the Pirates.

    Only one question comes to mind when you picture Giancarlo Stanton, standing in right field at PNC Park, in front of that big #21 on the Clemente Wall in right, with the skyline of Pittsburgh and the Clemente Bridge in the background and that is…….who is Giancarlo Stanton’s favorite player of all time?

    Certainly feels like the planets are possibly……aligning.

    Sorry for the long reply – thanks again for the article.

  9. Mike G said...

    I think everyone gets it that “my #2” doesn’t equal “your # 2” but because there indeed are so many subjective differences in scouting opinions on prospects its also hard to objectively compare a SS like Alen Hanson (Pirates’ #3 prospect #47 overall MLB prospect #8 overall SS prospect) to a Nick Franklin (Mariners #3, MLB #29, and #4 SS).

    (Just like there isn’t “much difference” between Franklin and Bogaerts)

    Beyond that, I don’t think there’s too much value in this analysis in trying to make too fina a distinction on what the Marlins “need” at this point……..they “need” everything, which is the nature of a deconstruction and rebuilding process like this.

    If you or I were rebuilding this team, we would do it around one person – Stanton.  However, he is the one on the table for purposes of this discussion, so it’s valid to the look at the broader needs.

    Per one of ur points. – doesn’t do as much good to have an elite starter with a black hole in the bullpen, which is precisely why I had extended the proposed Pirates package to include an asset there, as well as a second SP, 1B, RF, LF and prospects at SS and CF, covering spots on a team that needs at least that many filled.

    BTW It would be smart for the Mariners as well to assume that they will need to take Nolasco as part of any deal.  They can probably swallow hard on the money and use him for a year,  and it would help them “close” a deal like this.

    Again, i’m definitely not an expert in assessing the value of prospects in a deal like this, but I think if someone took a shot at that, they would find that the Pirates package I proposed in an earlier reply would be able to provide far more total value to the Marlins than virtually any other team could provide at this point, acknowledging that the Pirates, Mariners and Rangers are probably the short-list of teams who can even be in this discussion.

  10. Balthazar said...

    So Jeff, a timely post.  I can’t imagine that the Marlins don’t move Stanton, the only question is when.  The FO there couldn’t possibly have any less credibility with their fan base than the do now, and the difference between loosing 95 with Dgianni and 100 without isn’t much.  Taters are fun and all, but how many folks are going to buy a ticket just to watch him knock a few?  Stanton’s value is as at it’s absolute peak now, so it makes the most sense to move him. He could get hurt, or have a down year, or get in a public dispute with his FO given where they are at (daggers drawn evidently), all of which would hurt his value of the Marlins’ leverage. 

    The only reason I suspect the Marlins are slow playing this with all denials is because of pressure from _the League and the Commish_ about tearing the team down and pocketing the transfer payments.  Any deal coming back would have to look so good the Marlins could say “We’d be idiots not to do this.”  What the Marlins got back from Toronto on that deal was, frankly, a major underpay even given the salary committments going north, and that can’t be seen to happen again. 

    I’m surprised that neither you nor the other commentors break down a Stanton to Seattle deal, because not only is this the one to which the current rumors are linked, it is the counterparty which makes by far the most sense for the Marlins.  Seattle has a truly deep system, with most of their top picks in the high minors too boot and hence both ready but with major league service time not started.  They have arms and bats.  Seattle needs a) and outfielder, b) some middle order power, and c) a star to market the team around; needs all of those rather desperately in face given the incredible shrinking fanbase there.  Stanton is all of those things.  He is also righthanded, which hasn’t played well in Safeco, but Dgianni has the power to get it out anywhere and the fences are coming in and lower by an increment too.  Seattle is the first and foremost candidate for a swap and has been working the wires on it clearly. 

    So what would it take?  The problem for the Ms i would say is that any conversation on a deal starts with Mark Zunino and Taijuan Walker going east, Zunino having Florida roots and high ceiling, and Walker being an elite prospect arm.  But as in the discussion for Pittsburgh, those are exactly the two players I see Seattle’s FO as least willing to deal.  In the absence of those two, there are still enough pieces.  Two of Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Carter Capps, one of Kyle Seagar or Nick Franklin, and Jesus Montero (unless the two lefthand starters are taken in which case a lower prospect).  In terms of ceiling and diversity of talent, that is superior to the proposed package from Pittsburgh, and far above what came down from Toronto.  Is there a 5 win player in there?  Not obviously, so it doesn’t fit the criteria of your developed post.  OTOH there’s likely several 3-4 win players there, so it does fit the criteria of ‘enough absolute return’ plus fills many holes on a depleted roster.  I suspect something like this _has_ been offered in the ‘just talking’ mode, but that the Marlins are holding out for either or both of Zunino or Walker. 

    Whether there’s a deal will depend on which side blinks or moves the pieces around the proposal first, to me.  But this is the best offer the Marlins will get short of outright insanity.  And the Seattle system is deep enough to manage something like that kind of sell off if it’s Stanton coming back.

  11. Mike G said...

    I agree that,the Mariners are one of maybe 2 or 3 teams who could put a deal together for Stanton.

    But, let’s assume the Fish took the Mariners up on the best possible package that Balthazar outlines above, I.e. their #2, #3 & #5 prospects, plus Jesus Montero (who, BTW, was a negative -0.2 WAR catcher in 2012)

    That’s identical to just the first piece of the Pirates package I proposed above – their #2, #3 & #5 prospects.

    Adding Nolasco (who has negative trade value at this point, and HAS to go if Stanton goes) and LoMo to the Bucs then returns the Bucs #7 and #12, PLUS a starting 1B, RF and LF.

    Seems like the Pirates are in a better position than any other team right now to provide more prospects, fill more holes, provide more starters, reduce Marlins payroll and strategically afford to let all of those pieces go without causing undue harm to their prospect system.

    Anyone have a way to value prospect packages like this?

  12. Balthazar said...

    So Mike G.,

    1) rankings are within organizations not between them.  A ‘#2’ in one org may be _a couple of WAR per annum_ better OR worse than someone ranked similarly in another org.  In addition, rankings have no absolute standard either, with event he most knowledgable scouts and analysts differing significantly on the projection for the same individual.  So comparing prospects by ‘relative rankings’ isn’t really a sound approach. 

    2) What perhaps matters most are what are the acquiring organization’s needs?  Yes, ceiling is all very well, but if you have great starters but a black hole in the bullpen and a huge minus at 3B (or the OF) a different package may line up better. 

    3) Jesus Montero is hard to assess.  He is best if he is kept at catcher for 350-400 ABs even though he is a poor defender whose ceiling in that regard is tolerable mediocrity.  He is not a finished project as a batter, and ones assessment of him depends upon how much improvement one anticipates.  He hit lefties very well already, and has hit much better on the road than in Safeco (absolutely no one hit well here in 2012).  There is a lot of untapped power in his bat, and that is the reason to put him in the mix. 

    4) If the Marlins’ approach is simply to ask for the four absolute best, cost-controlled prospects/rookies in any inquiring organization, than no one is going to cut that deal.  Nor should they.  The Marlins, if they decide to deal, are going to have to accept some risk as well as some reward; hence mixing in the likes of Montero as part of filling out a high ceiling package.  Or the Marlins can hold on to Stanton for another .5-2 years and acquire less when they finally deal, which is the probable outcome of waiting. 

    And in my view, the Marlins would, and likely should, be asking for more in a package from Pittsburgh than those quoted.  But hey, the Fishbones have done several El Stupido deals already so who knows what they want other than to take the money and run.

  13. Balthazar said...

    And as a btw, there really isn’t that much difference between Bogaerts and Franklin.  Yes, Xander is better if one thinks he’ll stick at SS because Franklin isn’t rated to have the arm to stay at the position.  As batters, Franklin has as much to offer; a bit better in walk rate and contact, slightly less natural power, but a lefty too so having the platoon advantage.  They’re nearly the same age, with Franklin a season closer to the majors too.  . . . No one is talking about Franklin as the centerpiece to a major deal.  I really don’t see Boston as remotely having the chips to be in the conversation, to be honest.  Xander isn’t Hanley, and there’s a lot else needed there.

  14. Nick M said...

    I feel like I have the perfect deal to land Stanton in New York.  Yankee stadium would be perfect for him, the short porch in right would be able to generate in my opinion, at least 40 home runs, which they need to get back on top.  Brian Cashman needs to call Miami and offer him this deal:  Granderson, Hughes, and a prospect from the yankees farm system in exchange for Stanton.  This deal works for both clubs, cutting Yankee payroll for young power, and Miami getting power, a quality 3rd pitcher in the rotation and future talent.

  15. Aaron James said...

    I’m sure if Loria was gonna take on that kinda salary he’d rather just pay Giancarlo. This is a no brainer for NY, but I don’t see why Miami would have any interest whatsoever. Mason Williams, Tyler Austin & Banuelos would be more likely.

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