The Cardinals have been linked to Giancarlo Stanton in trade speculation since the summer, and now Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com writes that the Cards are reportedly willing to offer the Marlins “one of their best young pitchers” in a Stanton trade, provided that Miami covers some of the $295MM remaining on the slugger’s enormous contract.
St. Louis is known to be looking for a difference-making bat this offseason, and few fit that description better than Stanton, fresh off a league-leading 59 homers in 2017. Acquiring Stanton, of course, will be no easy feat, even with the Marlins looking to pare down their payroll by getting Stanton’s contract off their books. Assuming Stanton, who has full no-trade protection, even approves of a deal to St. Louis, the Cardinals and Marlins would then have to work out what would undoubtedly be a complex set of negotiations to determine the players and money involved in such a trade.
The $295MM figure is enough to give any team pause, and Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak expressed wariness back in August about how large contracts can adversely impact a team’s performance. It isn’t surprising that the Cards would want the Marlins to eat some of Stanton’s contract to make a deal happen, though the dollar figure will surely hinge on just how many good prospects St. Louis is willing to send Miami.
Looking at young pitching within the Cardinals’ system, names like Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Sandy Alcantara, Junior Fernandez, and Dakota Hudson all stand out as candidates to be the mystery arm on offer to the Marlins. Weaver, Flaherty, and (depending on his recovery from Tommy John surgery) Reyes are all expected to play roles on the Cardinals’ staff in 2018, however, and pitching depth will be necessary given Adam Wainwright’s struggles and Lance Lynn’s likely departure in free agency. The Cards could deal a young starter and then acquire a veteran via trade or free agency as a replacement, though that could require another sizeable financial commitment, which the club could be hesitant to make if it did land Stanton (even with Miami eating part of the contract).
Despite Stanton’s huge production last year, it seems inevitable that the Marlins will have to cover some of the money owed in order to make a deal happen. “Three different general managers of profitable market teams” tell Gammons that Stanton wouldn’t be claimed if he were to suddenly be placed on waivers, due to the financial commitment required to sign him.
The Red Sox have also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Stanton, though Gammons finds it “unlikely” that the slugger would approve a deal to Boston — to this end, the Sox haven’t reached out to Joel Wolfe, Stanton’s agent. It has been rumored that Stanton, a California native, wouldn’t approve of a trade that would keep him on the east coast, though his only stated priority is avoiding another rebuilding situation. As Gammons notes, the Red Sox also can’t match the Cardinals when it comes to young pitching prospects that are close to MLB readiness.