With the colossal trade that brought about the implosion of the 2012 Miami Marlins, it has been no secret that star Giancarlo Stanton has wanted out of town. Trade rumors have swirled throughout the winter, with enough hypothetical trade scenarios to make the precocious talent want to change his name once again.
Although it has been just 12 games, the Marlins are already 2-10 and buried nine games back of the division leader Atlanta Braves. Many have resurrected the Stanton trade talks, arguing that the ball club should just finish what they started in the winter. As a result of the intensified whispers, perhaps surprisingly, Marlins officials have recently stated they are “not interested” in dealing the once-in-a-generation slugger.
I find this particularly surprising because it took six months for the Marlins to say they aren’t interested in trading Stanton. If they are so hesitant to trade him now, why the delay? My guess is the Fish just didn’t receive any offers good enough and are trying to smooth things over with him now that the regular season is underway. Even if the Marlins are still shopping him, publicly denying his availability might allow Stanton to focus solely on his game instead of the noise around him. In turn, that could still keep Stanton’s trade value at an astronomical high it is right now. I still think that, for the right package, Stanton could be dealt shortly.
Among the interested teams, per Peter Gammons, include none other than the Red Sox. With Jackie Bradley Jr. probably being demoted at some point given his slow start and service time issues, an opening in the outfield could emerge for Stanton. From there, the Sox could decide to either stick the physically imposing Stanton (he’s 6’6, 240 lbs) in his natural right field or add Stanton’s name to the list of Hall-of-Fame talents to play under the shadows of the Green Monster. Personally, the allure of Stanton continuing the long list of greatness in left field would be too good to pass up.
A deal for Stanton would be unprecedented in baseball history, given his age, years of team control, and talent. At just 23 years of age, Stanton would be younger than many of the players offered in exchange for him. Contractually, Stanton is playing out 2013 at $537,000 and will be arbitration eligible for the next three years, making him a free agent following the conclusion of the 2016 season. Numbers-wise, Stanton has already lead the league in slugging, as a 22 year old, has had two 30 home run seasons, and is above average defender under most metrics (+10 defensive runs saved last year). He was nearly a six win player (5.5 WAR going by BaseballReference.com) and going by most player aging curves, the sky is the limit for Stanton.
What would it take to acquire the services of such a player heading into his prime? Short answer would be a lot of quality, young talent. Going by Eno Sarris’ work on Fangraphs for acquiring a player of Stanton’s magnitude, it would take roughly four Top 50 prospects, with two being in elite territory (top 10-20 in the game). The Sox system is one of the few that can actually meet those requirements. They have top 20 talents in shortstop Xander Bogaerts and pitcher Matt Barnes; they have quality arms in Allen Webster, Henry Owens, and Rubby De La Rosa; they have intriguing bats in Blake Swihart, Bryce Brentz, Manuel Margot, and Garin Cecchini.
A realistic package that could woo Marlins executives to pull the trigger on this blockbuster would undoubtedly centerpiece on Bogaerts, a premium power bat at a premium position (at least for the short term). In addition to Bogaerts, I think a group of Barnes, Webster, Swihart, and Cecchini could get the job done. Bogaerts and Barnes would represent the elite talents, Webster would be the other top 50 prospect (and one with a very high ceiling), and two back end Top 100 types in Swihart and Cecchini.
Obviously, that’s a lot to give up, no matter who the player is. However, under this scenario, the Red Sox would still keep Bradley Jr. to replace Jacoby Ellsbury and his probable departure. Additionally, the Sox would still be able to hold on to gifted arms in De La Rosa and Owens. Of course, they’d also be getting one of the great talents in the game today, at an extremely affordable price, heading into his prime.
It’s a move with epic repercussions for both teams. By trading the only player worth watching, the Marlins could put the final nail into the city’s “baseball coffin.” Maybe, all of the prospects struggle as they climb the minor league ladder, and flame out. Or even worse, both could happen.
It’s a move in which the Sox could deplete their farm system and put themselves in an incredibly vulnerable position in the coming years. Maybe, Stanton fails to make the transition to the pressure cooker that is Boston, and struggle to live up to the impossibly high expectations from the fans and media. Or even worse, both could happen.
It’s a move that could make both teams contenders for years, one under the foundation of a generational superstar; the other under the wealth of talent acquired in the recent multitude of trades. It’s a franchise changer no matter how you look at it, and one that will be painstakingly scrutinized now, one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now.
At the start of this piece, I was extremely hesitant to trade such immense amount of young talent for one player. The very talent that could make up the next, great, Red Sox team. However, the more I thought about it, the more willing and inclined I would be to pull off such a trade. Basically, Stanton represents the best case scenario for Bogaerts offensively, and given the flame out rate of young pitchers, there is no guarantee any of the arms would stay healthy to even reach the majors, let alone perform at the highest level. Stanton has already provided huge value at an age when his only comparables are Hall of Fame players. He is a marquee talent already and should only continue to develop as he matures.
Maybe the Marlins wouldn’t accept this exact trade, but it’s one that I certainly think would make its front office listen. If the Marlins are truly listening, the Red Sox should speak up and pounce on the opportunity before someone else does.