The Marlins' new ownership is very likely looking to trade high-powered outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and his massive contract. In terms of production, Stanton has obvious appeal. He's coming off an age-27 season that saw him blast 59 home runs, and . As well, Stanton owns a career OPS+ of 146 and is coming off his healthiest season yet.
On the other hand, there's his contract. Stanton has almost $300 million left on his contract, assuming he doesn't exercise his opt-out after the 2020 season. If he produces at 2017 levels through 2020, then he might indeed choose to hit the market, but that opt-out in essence puts all the risk on the club. Any team that acquires Stanton will either have to take on all or most of that obligation or lessen the future cost by sending premium prospects Miami's way (which, in turn, would mean that the Marlins would kick in lots of cash or agree to pay part of Stanton's future salaries).
As things stand now, Cardinals are reportedly prominent among that quartet. A wide-ranging piece by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reinforces the notion that the Cardinals are very serious about a Stanton blockbuster ...for Stanton and the Marlins, and the
Both teams expect conversations to continue this week and gain clarity, with the Cardinals described by one source as "determined" in their interest.
"Determined" is the word. Goold's piece has a lot more about the Cardinals' offseason plans, including what might unfold if they aren't able to land Stanton. Give it a read.
Stanton, of course, has full no-trade protection in his contract, which means he must approve any trade. We know Stanton prioritizes playing for a contender, and the Cardinals, despite missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, qualify on that front. However, Stanton may also have other priorities. Here's this from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports ...
Though he [Stanton] hasn't discussed anything besides his preference to play for a competitive team, others around the team suspect he prefers one of the coasts, and possibly most prefers the West Coast if given the choice.
Stanton is a native of Southern California, so that likely underpins his reported desire to land on the West Coast. The implication is that "flyover country" holds less appeal for Stanton, which in turn would work against the Cardinals. Fans of course tend to take umbrage when a player declines to approve a trade to their respective team, but there's nothing wrong with a player's using his contractual powers. In any event, contention and geography may matter to Stanton, which could make things difficult on the Marlins, as that would whittle down the list of viable destinations quite significantly.
In the past, the Cardinals have had a lot of success in trading for players and then using their baseball atmospherics to persuade them to sign long-term extensions or, in the case of Matt Holliday, to stick around via free agency. With Stanton, though, the wooing must take place before the games are played. That's a different task altogether.
Of the four teams name-checked recently, only the Red Sox would seem to satisfy Stanton's assumed priorities -- i.e., contention and being nestled on one of the coasts. However, the Sox's interest, per Heyman, may not be as strong (Clark Spencer, on the other hand, reports that the Sox's interest might be growing). Maybe Stanton's geographical preferences aren't as deeply held or maybe as the offseason further unwinds his frustration with the Marlins will grow enough to overcome said preferences. Right now, though, pulling off a trade for Stanton may be even harder than it sounds.