As of Black Friday, the 2017 offseason has been astonishingly quiet. The trade and free agent market seems as though it’s being held up in large part by the situation surrounding NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Once that massive domino falls, it’s possible we’ll see a flurry of free agent activity follow. In the meantime, however, Stanton rumors are a heavy focus of the baseball media cycle, and as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out in an in-depth piece earlier this month, his market is wide and complex. As we approach the weekend, here’s an overview of what we know about the Marlins’ attempt to deal their All-Star outfielder.
He’s the best player available on the market- This may be redundant considering I already mentioned his brand new MVP award, but the subject is well worth its own spotlight. His .281/.376/.631 batting line is other worldly, and his 59 homers paced all of baseball in 2017. While his 6.9 fWAR only tied for fifth among all players in the majors, the rest of the top seven (Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout) won’t be available for teams to acquire in a trade. The top three free agents (Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer) aren’t anywhere near as valuable in terms of expected WAR output as Stanton.
Teams perceive his remaining contract as close to market value- According to these three tweets from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, multiple teams told the Marlins that the remaining 10 years and $295MM left on Stanton’s contract are a pretty good estimate of what he’d earn on the open market, were he a free agent this offseason.
He has a lot of power over his own fate- Not only does Stanton have a full no-trade clause in his contract, but he also has the ability to opt out after the 2020 season, at which point he’d leave 7 years and $218MM on the table in search of a new deal. The opt-out makes trading him even more complicated, as it caps the contract value upside for his would-be new team. Meanwhile, the full no-trade protection gives him enormous leverage in the process. Many teams would love to add Stanton to their lineup, and the Marlins are looking to shed payroll. Ultimately, this means the Fish may not end up being able to accept the best offer, and could have to simply settle for the proposal from the city Stanton wishes to play for most.
The Marlins’ leverage over him is nonzero- While Stanton is a coveted asset and enjoys no-trade protection, he’s made it well-known that he isn’t interested in being around for a rebuild. The slugger’s desire to leave Miami could result in him approving a trade he’s not thrilled about just to play for a contender. On the other hand, it could also result in a tense game of chicken between Stanton and the Marlins to see who will bend first. Although the Marlins have a firm mission to shed payroll, they can do so in other ways; they don’t actually have to trade Stanton at all. And as much as Stanton wants to be traded, he might be willing to hold out for a team of his choice and risk staying put. The case is fascinating.
Some evaluators believe the Marlins’ asking price is unrealistic- While Miami’s asking price isn’t entirely clear, it seems as though they’re looking for a team to pay all (or nearly all) of his salary while including prospects. This has led some to suggest that the Fish need a “reality check” in terms of their asking price. If the contract is indeed roughly market value, then it’s difficult to imagine that a team will give up good prospects for the privilege to pay Stanton his full dollar value over the course of the deal.
He prefers to play near a coast- While this doesn’t seem to be a firm deal breaker, it complicates matters for teams like the Cardinals and Phillies, who have the payroll space and prospect depth to swing a trade for the prolific slugger.
The Cardinals and Giants have made formal offers- The Giants were the first to officially submit a trade proposal, with the Cardinals following suit later that same week. This doesn’t mean the trade discussions are finished; those trades could still be tweaked or even scrapped entirely in favor of starting from scratch. But the fact that there are at least two offers on the table gives the Marlins some options to weigh for the time being. It’s not known what those offers are, however, though we do know that the Cardinals included Sandy Alcantara in their proposal. It’s equally uncertain whether Miami even takes those offers seriously.
As many as eight teams are engaged in talks for him- While only six of those eight teams are thought to be serious pursuers, the fact that so many teams are showing strong interest bodes well for Miami and their power in negotiations. In addition to the Cardinals and Giants mentioned above, we know that the Dodgers, Phillies and Red Sox have had some level of dialogue with the Marlins. The Yankees, too, have reportedly done their due diligence, though it doesn’t sound as if they’re actively pursuing Stanton.