The Miami Marlins do not want to trade Giancarlo Stanton, their only remaining impact player after an off-season of casting off veterans, but according to Jim Bowden, they are willing to listen to offers.
That sound you just heard was the can of worms opening all over baseball.
Stanton would be an upgrade in right field for just about every team in baseball, but not every team is a good fit. Some teams, like the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, for instance, already have good right fielders and more outfielders than they have playing time for.
Other teams, like the Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins for example, simply aren't in a competitive enough place to make a move for a player like Stanton, especially as he gets incredibly expensive in 2014-16.
But there are teams that fit. Teams who would love to add a the best, young, right-handed power bat in the game and have the prospects to get a deal done.
Let's break the teams into groups based on their chances of trading for Stanton.
What's All That One in an Million Talk?
Anything is possible in baseball, but I don't see any of these teams, for various reasons, getting a deal done with the Marlins for Stanton. Below are the reasons why.
Tampa Bay Rays - They trade for guys when they're cheap, not when they get to arbitration.
Toronto Blue Jays - If they were going to get Stanton it would have been done when they took on the rest of the Marlins payroll earlier this winter.
Chicago White Sox - Don't have the prospects to make it happen.
Cleveland Indians - Have a little more to offer than the White Sox, but still probably not enough. Best prospects still too far away.
Minnesota Twins - They have the prospects and the need, but does it really make sense? Their rebuilding plan is off to a nice start. Better to just stay the course.
Houston Astros- Same as Minnesota.
New York Mets - The Mets are trying to cut payroll and rebuild too. Doesn't make sense.
Washington Nationals - And play him where?
Cincinnati Reds - see Nationals, Washington
St. Louis Cardinals - Already have good corner outfielders and a farm system that is ready to provide more high-end talent. No need to mess with what's already working.
Arizona Diamondbacks - They already have a young right fielder they're listening to offers about.
Colorado Rockies - Boy that would be fun to watch, but the Rockies are so far away that adding Stanton doesn't make a lot of sense.
Los Angeles Dodgers - This seems like the kind of move the Dodgers would make these days and would probably include a massive extension for Stanton, but it would require them to move Andre Either (something they've already tried to do with little success) and they don't really have the prospects to offer either. Too many things have to go right.
So You're Tellin Me There's a Chance...
These teams are long-shots, but there is at least one reason why it could happen (either they have a need, the prospects to get it done, or a generally unpredictable GM who likes to make a splash).
Kansas City Royals - The Royals almost certainly won't make a move for Stanton, but it fits their biggest need (the one that Wil Myers would have filled this season) and they still have plenty of prospects to get a deal done. I've said before that, even though "announced" that they're going for it this season by trading for James Shields, they're still a big move away - either another top of the rotation pitcher or an impact bat. I think Stanton qualifies. The Royals should inquire about Stanton, but I doubt it will go much further when the Marlins ask for Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and more.
Chicago Cubs - I can't rule out the Cubs with Theo Epstein in town, but they can't get Stanton without Javier Baez, and I don't think they want to do that. They are one of the teams, however, that could extend Stanton and get more than just the four years out of him, so in that regard, perhaps they would be willing. Any deal involving the Cubs would need to include Baez, Josh Vitters (the Marlins need a major league third baseman badly and wouldn't be afraid to try out a rookie) and likely another notable prospect like Matt Szczur or Brett Jackson. More importantly, however, the Marlins would likely want a good pitching prospect who is nearly major league ready, which the Cubs don't have.
Oakland A's - If I can't rule out Theo, I certainly rule out Billy Beane. The A's are typically in the same mold as the Rays, in that they trade players when they hit arbitration, not acquire them. But then the A's go out and do things like sign Yoenis Cespedes and blow that philosophy out of the water. If Beane feels like he has a shot to win this season, he'll pull the trigger on Stanton and then flip him later if it doesn't work out. And he has the prospects to make it happen, with Brad Peacock, Miles Head, and A.J. Cole all possibly being attractive pieces for the Marlins, although in order to get a deal done, it would take an impact player like Addison Russell, who can't be moved yet.
Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers are in that area where adding Stanton would make them better, but wouldn't quite make them a playoff team, which kind of defeats the purpose. Of course, they'd be getting four years of him and they're not so far out of contention that they can't get there while they have him, so it's a possibility. But additionally, their farm system isn't very deep and they don't have an impact player to send back to the Marlins in return. Still, I can't completely rule out the desire to put Ryan Braun and Stanton together in the same lineup.
Pittsburgh Pirates - I actually believe that the Pirates would be a great fit for Stanton if only they were willing to make a true commitment to being a competitive team. They're taking the right steps, but trading for Stanton could speed up their timetable by a year so and give them the best young outfield in the game (with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte filling out the rest). They could extend Stanton without even bringing their payroll up to the middle of the pack in the majors, and they have plenty of pitching prospects to get a deal done. In fact, they could probably use Jameson Taillon as the centerpiece of a deal, along with a number of other pieces, and not have to touch top prospect Gerrit Cole. Everything points to the Pirates being a viable and even likely landing spot for Stanton until we remember that they're the Pirates. I'd be shocked if they pull the trigger on a deal of this magnitude, no matter how much sense it makes.
You're Alive! And You're a Horrible Shot.
There are three teams that would love to land Stanton, but they just don't have the goods in their farm systems to get the deal done, unless I am severely over-estimating what the Marlins demand will be for their franchise player. Much like our friend Lloyd, they're alive in the bidding, but they've got a horrible shot.
Detroit Tigers - Wouldn't it be fitting if the Tigers manage to trade for Stanton, the best Marlins hitter to come along since Miguel Cabrera, whom the Tigers also took off their hands? The Tigers will likely do everything they can to get Stanton, I just don't know if they have enough, especially after sending some of their better prospects to the Marlins last summer. Any move would undoubtedly require both Nick Castellanos and Asivail Garcia, and if I'm Marlins GM Dan Jennings, I'd ask for Bruce Rondon as well, finishing the depletion of the Tigers farm system and securing the back end of my bullpen at the same time. That deal might be enough, because it would give the Marlins the third baseman they badly lack, a legitimate prospect at closer, and an outfielder that could play right away, but it still might not be enough (especially if you feel the way I do about Castellanos) and would leave the Tigers farm system completely barren.
Philadelphia Phillies - There is perhaps no better fit between Stanton and another team than there is with the Phillies. A bat like Stanton could be exactly the piece they need to get back to the playoffs and the fact that he's right-handed makes it even that much better. But do they have anything left to trade? To answer that question, I'll direct you to this e-mail I got from a reader:
He's on the right path, especially with the cash, but unfortunately, that is about the best the Phillies can offer. They could add Tommy Joseph if the Marlins are looking for a catcher but that's about all they have to add. They just don't have the impact talent to acquire a player like Stanton that they once had. Brown could be intriguing to the Marlins, because the talent is still the same as it was when he was a top-20 prospect in the game. He just needs refinement and an opportunity. He'd get at least one in Miami. Mayberry is a platoon-player who would get over-exposed in Miami, but Aumont is a legitimate bullpen arm and Biddle is a solid lefty for their future. If the Phillies offered a deal of Brown, Biddle, Aumont and Joseph, the Marlins would listen, but if they had any offers available that had at least one impact player, they'd take it over anything the Phillies can offer.
San Francisco Giants - If it's possible, the Giants may have even less to offer the Marlins than the Phillies. It sure would be fun to watch Stanton hit hat giant glove out in left field, but Bay Area fans shouldn't get their hopes up. Unless the Giants offer to stock the Marlins soda machines, a la Moneyball, for the next 100 years, the Giants don't have the gooods to get a deal done.
I've Got Worms
Here's where things get really interesting, and where the Marlins can really break the bank. I've got six teams that have all the variables to get a deal done with the Marlins. They have the need, the prospects, and the money to make it happen, and if the Marlins can get them bidding against each other, they could hit the jackpot.
Boston Red Sox - Can you picture Stanton denting the crap out of the Green Monster at Fenway? I can. More importantly, the Red Sox have the prospects to get a deal done with the Marlins. Any deal would likely have to include Xander Bogaerts, who despite being a shortstop right now, will likely end up at third base and could solve the Marlins problems there by 2014. A future infield of Bogaerts and Adeiny Hechavarria is a nice start to the future. If the Marlins want an athletic outfielder, then the Red Sox have Jackie Bradley. If they want pitching, then they have Matt Barnes. If they're looking for Cubans (something the Marlins often do), they have Jose Iglesias (although trading him after getting Hechavarria would be redundant). At the end of the day, the Red Sox have the prospects to make this happen and are always looking to add star power.
New York Yankees - If the Red Sox like star power then the Yankees are addicted to it, and with an aging roster, the Yankees would love to get younger. The thoughts of a contract extension aren't as automatic with the Yankees as they used to be, but at the very least they won't be scared off by his escalating salary over the next few seasons. The Yankees enjoyed an emergence of hitting prospects last season, most of whom will be in Double-A this season. The Marlins could have interest in any combination of Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, or Tyler Austin, and could likely pry Manny Banuelos out of the Yankees hands as well.
Seattle Mariners - The Mariners are in desperate need of a power bat and have more pitching prospects to deal than any organization in baseball. The ball is in their court. If they feel that they are ready to compete and want to add Stanton, they have the goods to get it done.
Texas Rangers - The Rangers have to be considered because they feel like they have to replace Josh Hamilton's production and have the prospects available to make a deal. The Marlins would love to have Mike Olt and he would be a nice centerpiece to a trade, and the Rangers have plenty of secondary pieces to add as well. The only problem for the Rangers is that it would leave them with some poor outfield defense, with David Murphy having to play there every day.
Atlanta Braves - The Braves have a great young right fielder in Jason Heyward, but I'm sure Stanton could adapt to left field just fine. There's always the obstacle of trading a star within the division, but the Marlins don't appear to have a whole lot in the way of morals so I don't know why they'd care about haivng Stanton come back and beat their brains in every season. The Braves farm system isn't as deep as it once was, but I'm sure they'd take Julio Teheran off of the Braves hand as a nice centerpiece to a Stanton deal and I'm sure they wouldn't object to Christian Bethancourt as well. That's a nice start to a deal.
San Diego Padres - This is my darkhorse candidate to land Stanton. It may be a bit of a long-shot, but I put the Padres in this category because it just makes too much sense, and unlike the Pirates who make just as much sense, the Padres may be willing to pull off a deal. A 3-4-5 of Stanton-Headley-Quentin would give them a viable middle-of-the-lineup, and they have the prospects to get a deal done. The Marlins would likely be thrilled with Rymer Liriano as a centerpiece of a trade, and Jedd Gyorko would slove a lot of problems as well. They could also dangle pitching prospects Adys Portillo or Keyvius Sampson as well.
The Padres aren't a likely candidate, but if they want to be a dark-horse, they can be. Otherwise, I'd expect the usual candidates - the Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees - to pop up as candidates, along with the Braves and Mariners, who have the players to get a deal done. Certainly there are others, but there are many obstacles for the rest of the remaining organizations to overcome, and too many move viable candidates prepared to bid against themselves.
Regardless of who the bidders are, the Marlins will, or at least should if they play it correctly, get at least one impact prospect and a few secondary prospects in return for Stanton. Despite all of the players they parted with in their blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays earlier this winter, they could possibly get a better return for just Stanton, given his star status and years from free agency.
Trading Stanton would be the final nail in the coffin for many Marlins fans, but at this point, if they are going to rebuild, they might as well go all the way with it. They have broken down their roster so far that there's no guarantee that they'll be able to compete any time in the next few years, and if they wait to trade Stanton until he's only a year or two away from free agency, they won't get nearly the return they will get if they trade him now.
Stanton is one of the most valuable trade assets in all of baseball and they should have multiple bidders on his services. If the Marlins play their cards right, they could hit the jackpot.