Stanton is still a Marlin, but it doesn’t seem like he will be for much longer, as the Marlins have reportedly agreed to the framework of a deal with both the Cardinals and Giants. The Cardinals’ package centers around right-handed pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara, and the Marlins have expressed interest in Jose Martinez and Michael Wacha. The Giants’ package centers around some combination of Christian Arroyo, Tyler Beede and Chris Shaw (and/or maybe Heliot Ramos). The Cardinals’ package is lighter on prospects than the Giants’ because St. Louis is willing to take on more of the $295 million for the remainder of Stanton’s 10-year deal than San Francisco. Both are, on the surface, underwhelming and I would be sad as a Marlins’ fan if that’s all my favorite team could get for Stanton.
Miami-based SirusXM radio host Craig Mish thinks a deal could be consummated soon.
Source : Stanton trade expected to be finalized in the next 2-3 days.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 3, 2017
That was two days ago, so if he’s going to be right, a deal should happen by tomorrow, right? Not so fast.
A Giancarlo Stanton trade isn't close to completion, despite the frenzy resulting from weekend meetings with the #SFGiants and #STLCardinals. It's a complicated transaction with a lot of moving pieces, and it appears it's going to drag on a while. Nothing imminent.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) December 4, 2017
Crasnick is right about the fact there are a lot of moving pieces. The players and money involved in a pending deal of this magnitude is rather complicated, and if you factor in the Dodgers lurking around, things get even more complicated.
Let’s talk about the Dodgers, shall we? I’m already on record saying the Dodgers should acquire Stanton.
“There isn’t a lot of opportunity — despite some of the talent available next winter — for the Dodgers to add a player of Stanton’s ilk in the coming years. Free agency is usually where the Dodgers can thrive because of their lavish resources, but they’ve erred on the modest side since Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi came into power, so to think they’ll add Harper or Machado or Donaldson or anyone not named Kershaw next winter shouldn’t be assumed. Those guys have to want to play in Los Angeles anyway. We know Kershaw does (and hopefully still will), but Harper (with the Yankees calling) and Machado and Donaldson (both blocked by Corey Seager and Justin Turner) might have better options elsewhere.”
Dave Cameron at FanGraphs chimed in on Monday with something along those same lines, but a little more fleshed out when it comes to the value/money/commitment.
“So for LA, this isn’t as much a calculation of how much better Stanton makes them this year, as it is a calculation of how potential value they might be surrendering by limiting their free agent options next year. The Dodgers’ cost to acquire Stanton isn’t just the money they’d have to pay Stanton and whatever luxury tax payments came along with taking most of his deal; it’s the opportunity cost of maybe not signing Harper next year, or having to let Kershaw walk if they decide they really do want Harper anyway. But if Stanton really does want to go to LA this winter, and is willing to use his no-trade clause to make that happen, it’s not too hard to imagine a scenario where taking Stanton’s deal is a better use of funds than chasing Harper anyway.”
He goes onto say Bryce Harper is going to land a contract in the $400-plus million range for around 10 years, but things could get out of hand in a hurry. Are the Dodgers prepared to get into a bidding war with the Yankees, Nationals, Red Sox and whichever other teams might be involved in courting Harper? There’s no guarantee Harper even wants to come to LA. We know Stanton wants to come to LA, and he helps in 2018, whereas Harper doesn’t.
There’s also the case of Clayton Kershaw‘s opt-out after the 2018 season. Cameron argues the Dodgers can land Stanton (at a reduced rate, money-wise) and still comfortably retain Kershaw even at around $40 million a season, whereas signing Harper next year (for around $40 million per year) could complicate Kershaw’s return.
“Just taking Stanton’s remaining contract would add a $29.5 million AAV to the Dodgers’ CBT (competitive balance tax) calculation, but if he exercises his leverage and says it’s LA or he stays in Miami, it’s possible that the Dodgers could strike a deal where the Marlins keep enough of the contract on their books to get Stanton’s part of the Dodgers calculation under $25 million. And Harper isn’t going to sign for anywhere near $25 million per year.”
Trading for Stanton, retaining Kershaw, and signing Harper is not realistic, so it would come down to this: trading for Stanton and keeping Kershaw versus a non-guaranteed chance at Harper for the largest contract in the history of the sport and maybe being able to keep Kershaw. Seems like a pretty clear choice.
Ken Rosenthal has another take on the Stanton-Dodgers situation.
“The way to make a trade work, as I wrote last week, is for the Marlins to take back some combination of the Dodgers’ highest luxury-tax numbers—first baseman Adrian Gonzalez ($22 million), who would need to waive his full no-trade clause; left-hander Scott Kazmir ($16 million); and righty Brandon McCarthy ($12 million). But as of last week, the Marlins were unwilling to absorb short-term dollars in a Stanton trade, even though it would enable them to demand better prospects in return. The Marlins’ hard-line position on finances will remain viable as long as the Giants and Cardinals remain in play with acceptable trade agreements—the Marlins would not have allowed Stanton and his representatives to meet with those clubs if basic frameworks were not in place. If Stanton rejects both, the Marlins will need to engage other suitors—still possible—or start getting realistic about the Dodgers.”
The only problem I see with this scenario is how desperately the Marlins want to shed payroll, as they reportedly want to get down to $90 million. However, they already have $95 million committed to eight players in 2018, and that doesn’t include the arbitration numbers projected at $27.5 million. So even if the Marlins dump Stanton and a couple others, taking on Kazmir and/or McCarthy and/or Gonzalez might simply not be a feasible solution since it would put the Marlins payroll right back to where it was before.
As Rosenthal adds, however, the upside in all this is that Stanton holds the power.
“For now, this is a game of leverage, with Stanton holding almost all of it. Oh, the Marlins can threaten to trade virtually every other quality player if Stanton will not approve a deal, as the Miami Herald reported. But the team’s new ownership would look ridiculous if its first roster consisted of Stanton and 24 minimum-salary types. Stanton would look a bit ridiculous, too, but his circumstance would only be temporary. The Dodgers’ luxury-tax payroll will be much more flexible after next season. They can wait the entire off-season for the Marlins to relent. Or they can wait an entire year.”
Trading everybody but Stanton is as ridiculous as it sounds, so for the Marlins to get what they want, he’ll need to be moved this offseason. That’s where Stanton’s leverage and the Dodgers would come into play.
The only reason Stanton is still a Marlin is because he has yet to sign off on a trade to either the Giants or the Cardinals, and it’s because Stanton is holding out until the Dodgers’ situation becomes clearer.
We’ll see what happens going forward, but the reigning NL MVP wants to play for the Dodgers and he has the leverage over the Marlins team to force their hand. However, it remains to be seen whether Stanton will use that power, as well as how much exactly the Dodgers want him.