Giancarlo Stanton homered again Tuesday night. He has now done so in each of his last six games, and 44 times in total on the season. It’s kind of his thing.
Also his thing: making lots of money to hit those home runs. In fact, he makes so much money for hitting home runs that paying him to do so isn’t really even worthwhile for his current employer.
In spite of Stanton’s production–with a batting line of .285/.376/.646, he’s more than just dingers–the Miami Marlins are decidedly mediocre at 57-61 on the year. With the impending sale of the team, rumors have swirled regarding the idea that Miami would like to unload their financial commitment to Stanton via trade.
The Marlins still owe Stanton nearly $300 million of a $325 million contract that doesn’t expire until after 2027 (assuming Stanton doesn’t opt out after 2020). Even for a premier player, that’s a lot of cash, and not an amount many teams are waiting in line to take on.
Actually, nobody wants it. According to Jeff Passan, Stanton has cleared revocable trade waivers, which means he is eligible to be dealt before the end of August. It also means no team wanted to take the risk of getting stuck with his massive contract.
When a club claims a player on revocable trade waivers, it receives exclusive negotiating rights with that player’s current club. Dozens of players hit waivers this time of year, and are claimed by teams to effectively block rivals higher in the standings from having the opportunity to trade for said player. This common tactic could go awry if the claiming club doesn’t actually want the player in question, as the original club can force the claiming club to take the claimed player–and his associated salary–off its hands.
In theory, a team interested in Stanton for the stretch run (and far beyond) could’ve claimed him and negotiated a trade with the Marlins, the only risk being that the Fish decide to give him away to said team in a money dump–with the teaming landing Stanton losing nothing in the way of prospects. And not one team did it.
That doesn’t mean that Stanton isn’t garnering interest. Passan reported that four teams have inquired on some level with the Marlins regarding Stanton. While it’s widely believed that a move this month is unlikely to occur, if the guy on pace to hit more home runs than any NL hitter since Ryan Howard’s 58 in 2006 is potentially up for auction, it's bound to generate some interest from around the league.
The report also probably perked up a few ears in Cardinal Nation. Many in St. Louis have wondered, dreamed, and salivated at the thought of Giancarlo Stanton wearing birds on the bat ever since the suggestion that the Marlins might trade him first arose. A competitive roster with one glaring hole, adding an impact bat like Stanton’s to the Cardinals would potentially shift the entire course of the NL Central race in one bold move.
As the currency of baseball has shifted from dollars to talent, the attitude of some superstar-starved Cards fans is simple: add a bona fide slugger without trading away the team’s prized prospects? What’s a few million less in the DeWitt grandchildren’s trust fund, right?
But the risk of taking on Stanton’s entire contract would be waters the likes of which the Cardinals have never ventured. For all the daydreaming the fan base can muster, without a major shift in the philosophy of the organization, it’s just not happening.
As for a trade involving the Marlins eating some of that nearly one-third of a billions dollars? That could–and should–be intriguing to the Cardinals. So, too, would it be intriguing to a couple dozen MLB teams that aren’t being sold and aren’t perpetually tanking (Sorry, Padres).
Even with several interested parties, an August trade is difficult to facilitate. Though Stanton has cleared waivers, there’s no guarantee the interested clubs will have passed enough of their own desirable trade chips through waivers to line up a deal before the deadline. And if the Marlins are eating some cash, you better believe they’re going to want some treasured young talent in return.
It’s a fun exercise, scribbling out imaginary Cardinals lineups that feature Giancarlo Stanton right smack dab in the middle. But it’s not happening this season.
Could it happen over the winter? Rarely, if ever, has baseball experienced a trade with so many complexities: a still-young superstar whose team doesn't want him anymore because of his bad contract even though they're the ones who gave it to him like fifteen minutes ago, but the deal might not be as bad if he opts out, but he might not even want to do that unless other star players sign deals in the coming years to accelerate contract inflation in MLB, in which case the original contract might not even be so bad after all. There’s a lot going on, here.
If Miami is intent on moving Stanton, it could happen one way or another in the next six months. If it does, the Cardinals should certainly be involved in the conversation–but they almost definitely consider the shiny toy to be well out of their price range.
That doesn't mean you have to stop scribbling down those dreams lineups.
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