The Dodgers, Giancarlo Stanton, and a conundrum

Photo: Arturo Pardavila III

I had a draft titled “Giancarlo” in honor of Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton just a couple days ago. Before even writing, I deleted it because I didn’t think I’d need to write about the logistics of a Stanton trade as it pertains to the Dodgers. Fast-forward to Tuesday, and … well:

Yeah. But that wouldn’t stop Andy McCullough from dousing Dodger Twitter with a much-needed cold shower.

Right. There are plenty of obstacles in any potential “Stanton to the Dodgers” deal. That’s why things like baseball blogs exist. Before we get started, though, remember this:

The Dodgers’ reported “interest” in Stanton could just be Andrew Friedman calling Mike Hill and bringing up Stanton’s name. It could be a leak from an agent or other source to impact the overall market for Stanton. And it definitely helps the Marlins if teams think the Dodgers are interested in trading for the Marlin slugger.

The likely 2017 National League MVP is available because the Marlins, in their infamously cheap ways, are looking to offload his contract after Jeffrey Loria sold the team to a group headed by Derek Jeter. The Marlins are looking to move Dee Gordon and basically anyone else making a significant amount of money not named Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Let’s break this out into sections.

Contract

This is the biggest one. Stanton is in the middle of a 13-year, $325 million contract he signed almost three years ago to the day. At the time, he was coming off his best season as a pro at age 24 and, well, one doesn’t turn down $325 million. Here’s what the remainder of the contract holds for Stanton:

  • 2018: $25 million
  • 2019: $26 million
  • 2020: $26 million*
  • 2021: $29 million
  • 2022: $29 million
  • 2023: $32 million
  • 2024: $32 million
  • 2025: $32 million
  • 2026: $29 million
  • 2027: $25 million
  • 2028: $25 million club option ($10 million buyout)

So that’s at least 10 years and $295 million. He owns an opt-out after the 2020 season (his age-30 season), but he’d be walking away from $218 million guaranteed. Unless he performs at his 2017 level and stays healthy for the next three years, there’s almost no way he’s opting out of this deal. That is something the acquiring team must consider, as is something the Marlins need to consider when thinking about an asking price.

The Dodgers haven’t hid their desire to get under the luxury tax to reset the penalties, and they have anywhere from $155 million to $170 million committed to contracts for 2018 before free agency, arbitration and other possible trades. The luxury/competitive balance tax number for 2018 is $197 million. Odds are they’re going to go over it again this upcoming season, even if they don’t bring in Stanton. If they do acquire him, then it’s a 100 percent lock. They then have about $107 million committed to payroll in 2019, and that doesn’t include Clayton Kershaw‘s pending opt-out. So it isn’t impossible for the Dodgers to get under $206 million, which is the number for 2019, but the Dodgers will also surely be interested in retaining Kershaw and perhaps bringing in another premium free agent like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and others. So basically, unless the Marlins are paying down a significant portion of the $295 million (for tax purposes, it’s a $29.5 million hit), the Dodgers probably won’t be acquiring Stanton.

If there’s one thing that plays into the Dodgers’ favor, it’s this:

Stanton has a full no-trade clause. There’s also a report that he wouldn’t waive it in a trade to the Red Sox or Cardinals. It’s pretty obvious he’d rather go westward, and seeing as he’s a local guy, the Dodgers (and Angels, for that matter) make sense.

Cost

This is the another factor to consider with a possible Stanton acquisition.

The only way the Marlins are getting multiple premium prospects/young players is if they pay a handsome portion of Stanton’s deal. Seeing as they’re trying to cut payroll, it’d be an interesting study as to how they reconcile that dilemma.

But since this is a baseball weblog, let’s play with the numbers a bit. For fun, let’s say the Marlins pay $9.5 million per season for the life of Stanton’s deal (either three or 10 years), making Giancarlo a $20 million/year player (because we live in a Base 10 society). Well, that could net them a quality return.

If the Dodgers landed him, we could assume an outfield of Stanton in left field, Chris Taylor in center field and Yasiel Puig in right field would be the alignment. Those three would all be every day players, meaning some of the outfield depth the Dodgers currently have could be available in trade.

Joc Pederson is the obvious trade target here, especially considering this report.

There don’t figure to be many “impact bats” readily available this offseason (Stanton, ironically, is one). For a team looking for cheap, impact talent, they could do worse than Pederson. The Marlins could also be interested in a guy like Alex Verdugo, especially if they do end up moving Ozuna and his projected $10.9 million 2nd-year arbitration number.

Miami would probably also be interested in any of the bevy of young arms the Dodgers have in their system. I don’t think Walker Buehler would be available, but guys like Yadier Alvarez, Dustin May, Jordan Sheffield, Brock Stewart, Mitchell White and others. If you’re looking at guys on the MLB roster, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Adam Liberatore and Ross Stripling might be of some use. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the Dodgers included a veteran or two with some salary going the other way to lessen the potential tax penalty — guys like Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-Jin Ryu and even Scott Kazmir fall into this category. All three are in the last years of their deal and won’t be long-term commitments for Miami. I’m not going to come up with a specific package, but a lot of these names make sense for both teams.

Health

This might be the most troublesome factor when it comes to acquiring Stanton. In his seven full seasons, Stanton has averaged 127 games played per season. In 2015 and 2016, he played just 74 and 119 games, respectively. In his career, he has missed time due to hamstring (#TrueDodger) and quad strains, loose bodies in his knee, an abdominal strain, shoulder soreness, a fractured hand and a groin strain. He also was hit in the face by Mike Fiers in 2014 that led to him wearing the protective face flap on his helmet.

While Stanton hasn’t suffered a big/catastrophic injury that cut his seasons way short, he has quite the extensive history of nagging injuries that do add up over time. Couple that with the fact he’s 6’6, 245 pounds and those nagging injuries tend to have a bigger impact than on other guys who aren’t as big as Stanton. One also has to wonder how his body will do while he ages. He’s in fantastic shape, but no player has ever been able to escape Father Time and his adverse effects on the body.

Conclusion

Stanton is the premiere slugger in this game. He’s coming off a career-best season and would be a welcome addition to any team, all things being equal. Unfortunately, he has a potential albatross of a contract attached to him, lowering his trade value significantly. The Dodgers of old might take on all $295 million remaining in desperation to compete, but the Dodgers of now are sitting pretty with a great team already under their belt.

The Dodgers won 104 games without Stanton. If he were brought in, the Dodgers probably don’t get to 104 wins again anyway. But having his bat available in October — at least the threat of his bat — is still awfully enticing.

I’m as big a Stanton fan who isn’t also a Marlins fan you’ll meet. My heart wants this to happen in the worst way (and has for 3-4 years now), even if my brain and all logic is telling me it doesn’t make sense. It’s fun to think about Stanton in Dodger Blue, but to expect it is an entirely different thing. One thing’s for sure, though, if this front office thinks Stanton represents a big enough upgrade and they can make it work logistically, then there’s at least a chance of it happening.

Me too, Chad. Me too.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.