Over the past week, it’s often looked as if the Giants and Cardinals were the top two contenders to acquire Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, as both clubs met with Stanton in Los Angeles late last week and presented trade offers to the Marlins. Despite the progress that both of those clubs have made, though, the Stanton sweepstakes may not be anywhere near a conclusion. Stanton, who possesses a full no-trade clause, “does not want” a trade to the Giants or Cardinals as things stand now, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, though his thought process is considered to be “fluid” and could be altered if either San Francisco or St. Louis are able to significantly boost their respective rosters.
Furthermore, Rosenthal writes that Stanton’s clear desire is to be traded to the Dodgers, but that he would also be open to being traded to the Yankees. Since Los Angeles and New York each have a high payroll and a strong outfield with plenty of depth, there’s not quite as much incentive for either club to deal for the reigning NL MVP, and they’d both likely require the Marlins to take on some payroll in return.
Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Hyun-Jin Ryu are unlikely to figure heavily into the Dodgers’ plans in 2018 but are all set to earn at least $7.8 million, so they’d all be logical candidates to be moved if Los Angeles tries to get Miami to take on some salary as part of a Stanton trade. That’d allow the Dodgers to reduce the amount of money that counts toward the luxury tax threshold. While Miami clearly would prefer to cut their payroll as much as possible, taking on one of those veterans would at least be preferable to paying Stanton since all of them are free agents after 2018.
One other possibility not mentioned by Rosenthal that could make a ton of sense for both clubs would be for the Dodgers to move Yasiel Puig in a potential Stanton deal. Shedding Puig’s $9.2 million salary would help Los Angeles’ payroll woes, while moving him wouldn’t really be detrimental to their outfield depth, as they’d still have guys like Kiké Hernandez, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo to go along with Stanton. Taking on the salary wouldn’t be exceptionally harmful for Miami, as he’s a free agent next offseason. At least in the short term, the Cienfuegos, Cuba could also be a franchise icon in the city that possesses America’s largest Cuban-American population.
While the Yankees’ luxury tax concerns are significantly less pronounced than those of the Dodgers or even the Giants, their need for an outfielder is minimal enough that they could perhaps try to push Miami into taking on the contracts of Jacoby Ellsbury (set to earn $68.4 million guaranteed over the next three seasons) or Chase Headley (owed $13 million in 2018) as part of negotiations.
Even after both clubs parted with prospects in order to acquire proven veterans down the stretch in 2017, the Dodgers and Yankees have two of the top farm systems in baseball, with Los Angeles having six prospects and New York having five on MLB.com’s most recent top 100 list. Thus, the Marlins would likely be in better position to add value by trading Stanton to one of those clubs than they would with the Giants, who have one of the weakest farm systems in baseball, and the Cardinals, who have plenty of talented young players but will likely end up relying on many of them because of the youth movement they’ve undergone over the past two seasons.