Feb 17, 2013; Fort Myers FL, USA; Boston Red Sox player Xander Bogaerts (72) poses during photo day at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Note To Sox Front Office: Don't SellThe Farm For Stanton

The Red Sox haven’t played the role of buyer in a big blockbuster trade since the 2010-2011 offseason when they sent Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, and Rey Fuentes to the Padres to acquire Adrian Gonzalez. Since that time, they’ve undergone three more drafts, played the role of seller in a big blockbuster, and have held onto their best prospects. With eight of the club’s top ten prospects (according to both MLB.com and Soxprospects.com) either in Double A, Triple A, or MLB, the club is at the cusp of having cost-effective talent emerging for the next couple of seasons.

Aug 2, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) connects for a base hit during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With a crowded 40 Man Roster, the club will have only so many vacancies to fill with prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft. So there’s a real chance of the Red Sox making a share of offseason deals, or maybe one or two blockbuster deals, to get value in return as opposed to risking losing them for nothing.

The name Giancarlo Stanton has emerged with a potential trade target this coming season. Some have embraced the “Think Big” philosophy and support acquiring Stanton no matter what the cost. Others have taken a somewhat in between stance saying “Yes. But as long as they don’t include Xander Bogaerts in the deal”.

My personal take: He’s not worth it.

Don’t get me wrong. I admit Stanton would be a nice addition for this ballclub. He’s only 23 and is already in his fourth big league season with 106 career home runs on his resume. I do believe the Sox have coveted him for a long time. However, there are three things I consider that have me opposed to acquiring Stanton for a hefty price.

1. Lack of a legitimate need. Even with the pending free agency and possible departure of Jacoby Ellsbury on the horizon, this club really doesn’t have a hole to fill in the outfield. Shane Victorino has two more years left on his deal and can play all three outfield spots. Jonny Gomes has one more year left on his deal. Mike Carp and Daniel Nava have proven enough to be considered more than just reserves. The club thinks very highly of Jackie Bradley Jr., who is likely the heir apparent to Ellsbury as the center fielder/leadoff hitter. Bryce Brentz could very well be on the club’s opening day roster next season. Though he’s not as complete player as Stanton is (as well as almost a year older), there’s still a lot to like (right-handed power, a strong throwing arm, has yet to start the club control clock). Though it seems he’s on his last limb with the organization, there’s still a chance Ryan Kalish can shake the injuries and finally show everyone why the organization liked him more than Josh Reddick.

Bottom line: Since there’s really no significant void in the outfield, why pay a high price for someone who’s not a big necessity?

2. The potential pieces could become stars themselves. Every single superstar player was a prospect once upon a time. Back in 2008, Theo Epstein was trying to deal disgruntled Manny Ramirez to the Marlins for a Single A outfielder named Mike Stanton (now Giancarlo). The deal never came to fruition and the prospect emerged two seasons later and is now one of the game’s better young power hitters.

Eight of the organization’s top ten prospects are currently at the upper levels of the minors or with the big club. All of these prospects have been pretty successful at the upper levels so far. That’s a good sign that a very deep, homegrown core is about to emerge.

By 2015, the Red Sox could have Bradley, Garin Cecchini, Bryce Brentz, Xander Bogaerts in the starting lineup. Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo, Henry Owens, and Allen

Webster could be in the rotation. Rubby DeLaRosa could either be in the rotation or in the bullpen. That’s 9/25 of the roster playing significant roles for minimal salaries.

If this season has taught us anything it’s that depth is a good thing to have. No point in trading away depth just because you have it. Also leads to addressing another question: What’s more valuable, one expensive superstar or several very good and cost-effective players?

3. Stanton himself. I’ve used the word “superstar” to describe Stanton despite the fact that the guy is currently having a miserable season (.237/.351/.439/.790, 13 homers, 35 RBI, 38 runs scored). You don’t pay a hefty price for a guy coming off of a bad season.

Durability is another concern. At the time the Red Sox acquired Gonzalez for three prospects and a hefty extension and Carl Crawford for a first round draft pick and a hefty salary, both guys were at least durable. From 2003-2010, Crawford averaged 146.5 games per season. If not for his injury-riddled 2008 season, that number would be even higher. In his years with the Padres, Gonzalez averaged 159.8 games played per season.

Stanton played 150 games in 2011. Last season, he played in only 120. If he plays each of Miami’s remaining 44 games, he’ll finish with 119. That’s a three season decline. The fact that he’s just 23 and struggling with injuries is a big red flag to consider.

But not unlike Gonzalez and Crawford, Stanton is putting up his numbers in a low-pressure environment. Neither of the former two were ever comfortable in the Boston market. What if Stanton’s similar? Is a huge haul of prospects really worth the risk of finding out the hard way?

I must clarify that I am not 100% opposed to acquiring Stanton. But given his durability, rising salary, and ticking club control clock, I’d think twice about giving up ANY of our top ten prospects to acquire him.

Instead, they should take a patient approach and hope the Marlins become desperate to dump his salary. Kind of like how the Yankees acquired Nick Swisher after 2008. Swisher had just endured the worst season of his career (.219/.332/.410/.742 but with a respectable 24 home runs, 69 RBI, and 86 runs scored in 153 games played). All the Yankees gave up were two minor league pitchers who flopped (one was later re-acquired by NY) and Wilson Betemit. Swisher was a very good contributor to the NY lineup from 2009-2012, helping the club win a World Series in his first season in pinstripes. If the Yankees gave up a minimal price to acquire Swisher after 2008, a season in which he was better than the 2013 Stanton, the Sox shouldn’t have to pay much more to acquire Stanton.

However, if the Marlins remain stubborn in their asking price, they can keep him. The Red Sox will be just fine letting the new kids play while keeping payroll flexibility intact.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Giancarlo Stanton

  • Conor Duffy

    I wouldn’t call an OPS 16% above the league average a miserable season. Otherwise, I completely agree though.

    • John Fahrer

      Probably should clarify it as miserable by his standards. The .237 average is really the only bad thing in that line, though the home runs, RBI, and runs scored are pretty low as well. That could also be accredited to him being hurt and in a bad lineup. He’s also very likely to really blossom on a contender (like Bay did) as opposed to going the way of Crawford and Gonzalez. But the injuries bother me more than anything. Only 23 and there’s already concerns about his durability. Not good.

      • Conor Duffy

        The .237 average is bad but he more than makes up for it with a .351 OBP and .201 isolated power, meaning his SLG would be much higher if he was hitting, say, .275 or so.

        • Conor Duffy

          To clarify, it is a bad season for him. Just not a miserable season overall.

        • John Fahrer

          Guys are pitching around him since the rest of that lineup’s godawful. But he has been a pretty good OBP guy in his young career.

          After how it worked out with Crawford and Gonzalez, I’d tread lightly with guys putting up good numbers in low-pressure environments.

  • Paul Prims

    Agree. I’m not emptying a deep farm system for this guy. He ain’t that special.

    • John Fahrer

      At least not with the injury concerns

  • Aaron Somers

    Great stuff John. Nice job making your points. Your argument makes a lot of sense and I happen to agree that a deal that needs to include a ton of this talent doesn’t make much sense when you look at the big picture.

    • John Fahrer


  • Rick M.

    I would not hesitate to explore options regarding Stantion. Too temping a target to pass by without serious inquiry.

    • John Fahrer

      Not saying they shouldn’t inquire. Just saying I’d tread lightly in dealing away any of our top ten prospects for him. Especially someone like Garin Cecchini, who I feel can be the next Wade Boggs and/or our own version of Alex Gordon.

      Really wouldn’t want to deal Bradley or Henry Owens either. Feel they should let Ells walk and rotate the stock at leadoff/CF since that’s a grueling job and guys who make their living with their legs don’t age well. Owens looks like he could be our version of Madison Bumgarner.

      • Rick M.

        I’ll post something in a few days with a different take.

  • John Cate

    Stanton would be nice to have, but when you come right down to brass tacks, he’s just a bat. You don’t trade away young players with great all-around skills to acquire a young player (which Stanton still is) with one-dimensional skills. If you need another bat, there are ways to get one without mortgaging the future.

    • John Fahrer

      They definitely should hold onto each of their top four prospects (Bogaerts, Bradley, Owens, Cecchini) and Blake Swihart. They could sell high on Mookie Betts who’s now in the top ten at soxprospects.com but is roadblocked by Pedroia. Maybe give up one of Barnes, Webster, or Ranaudo.

      The Marlins are lean in near MLB-ready corner infield help and don’t really have a stud at 2B. Wouldn’t mind dealing Dempster, 3/4 of his 2014 salary, and one of Kalish or Brentz to Pittsburgh for AA 1B Alex Dickerson. Then package Dickerson with Betts and one of those three previously mentioned pitchers. If they take it, that’s awesome. If they want more, stand pat and wait it out like the Lakers did with Dwight Howard.