The Giants, Cardinals, Rangers, and Phillies are among the teams that have expressed interest in acquiring Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, according to USA TODAY’s Bob Nightingale.
Nightingale reports that the Giants have expressed the strongest interest, which makes some sense on the surface since they’ve received less-than-stellar performances from high-priced veterans Denard Span and Hunter Pence this season and could use an impactful power bat in the middle of their lineup. But the last-place Giants already have quite a bit of salary committed to aging veteran players, so making a run at Stanton, who is owed $295 million from 2018-27 unless he opts out after 2020, may just further cripple them without salary relief—a possibility that is also unlikely considering that the Giants are totally devoid of attractive young trade pieces.
The Giants’ payroll will end up somewhere in the range of $188 million this season, and they’ve already got $187 million committed in salary for 2018, an estimate that doesn’t factor in the arbitration payouts they’ll owe to players like Joe Panik and Sam Dyson. Stanton is owed $25 million in 2018, meaning the Giants would surely end up above the $217 million threshold that would force them to pay an extra 12% luxury tax if they acquired him. As they also look to address other needs, it’s very possible that they could end up above the $237 million threshold that would also cause them to be moved back 10 spots in the draft. Because they’re likely to end up with a top-six pick in 2018, their first pick would be protected, but having their second pick moved back 10 spots still wouldn’t be ideal for a franchise that desperately needs to rebuild its farm system.
While the Cardinals already have a glut of talented young outfielders, Stanton would represent the game-changing middle-of-the-lineup presence that they’ve lacked all season, and with a payroll that ranks right in the middle of the majors, they could certainly afford to take on his salary. They’ve also got the prospect arsenal to make a run at him, with five prospects ranked among the top 100 in baseball according to MLB Pipeline. However, Craig Mish of Sirius XM previously reported that it was unlikely that Stanton, who has full no-trade rights, would accept a trade to St. Louis.
Texas is an interesting spot for Stanton that hasn’t been discussed much thus far. They’re set to shed quite a bit of salary after this season, and they could certainly stand to upgrade in the outfield, with Carlos Gomez a free agent this offseason and Delino DeShields not looking like an obvious everyday starter over the long term. He could be the player the Rangers need in order to give Adrian Beltre a chance at contending for a World Series before he retires. But if Stanton is reluctant to accept a trade to St. Louis, it’s logical to think he think the same about being traded to Texas.
While Philadelphia has a tremendous amount of payroll flexibility, Stanton might be hesitant to be part of the Phillies’ rebuilding process after basically enduring a perpetual rebuild since arriving in Miami, as Nightingale points out in his article. And while Stanton is obviously one of the better hitters in baseball right now, it’s fair to argue that Philadelphia might be better off saving the money to rebuild their pitching staff while moving forward with their outfield contingent of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera, and Aaron Altherr, a group that has been extremely effective over the second half of this season.
Ultimately, Stanton might be best-served to reject any potential trade and stay in Miami, where he’s led the Marlins to an impressive 52-36 record since May 20. It will be up to Derek Jeter’s ownership group to determine whether it’s better for them to trade Stanton just as he reaches his prime in order to create payroll flexibility—further upsetting a group of fans that has already watched their star players be traded during their primes for years on end—or allowing him to stay in Miami and potentially being saddled by his contract during its final years.