As the only team basically known to be approved as a landing spot by Giancarlo Stanton, the Los Angeles Dodgers in some ways are in great position to land the MVP of their league and one of the best players in the game — who also happens to have complete no-trade clause as part of his record $325 million contract.
Except there are two big issues.
The much smaller issue is that they have an outfield glut, with top prospect Alex Verdugo and more fine ones to come and join a group that already includes Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson (Puig came on with a big year and Pederson with a big October).
But by far the bigger issue (even impediment) is that the Dodgers are still way over the luxury tax threshold even after paring the payroll from $300 million to close to $250 million, and Stanton would seem to be cost-prohibitive for them for that reason.
The Dodgers are said to be “playing it cool so far,” which might be a strategy, or might actually be a sign they see this as a long shot at best. People familiar with their situation still suggest such a mega-deal isn’t likely (though not necessarily impossible).
“It would take some creative financing to (land Stanton) and maneuver around the tax,” one person familiar with their situation said, stopping short of ruling it out.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are expected to continue to play it cool – like they did with Yu Darvish, when they waited for the Rangers to come back to them.
Stanton hasn’t stated his preferences publicly, but people with some knowledge of the situation suggest now that he most prefers to 1) win, and 2) be on the West Coast. Based on the fact there was only one winning team on the West Coast in 2017, and that happens to be a World Series team that also happens to be Stanton’s hometown team (he is from the Los Angeles Valley and lives in the Hollywood Hills), that may mean Stanton’s preference is limited to one – at least at the start.
Stanton isn’t saying anything publicly, understandably, but a friend of his now says, “I think he wants to be a Dodger.”
Originally, it was thought Stanton might accept the rival Giants, but it’s very possible he takes the stance, which is completly allowed, that he wants to play in L.A., at least until it becomes clear that that’s an impossibility.
Someone else close to him suggested that while the Giants have a very strong and fairly recent history of winning big and are committed to regaining past glory, Stanton may not be completely convinced they have enough around holdover stars Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner to make up the gap in the NL West against the Dodgers, who have won the last three division crowns, seem stacked and also rather youthful.
Among the other teams that have shown at least some interest, the Cardinals offer a winning organization but are in the Midwest, the Phillies are rebuilding but have money and are on the East Coast (possibly preferable to the Midwest), and the Yankees and Red Sox are winning teams on the East Coast.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported that the Marlins warned him that if he doesn’t accept any trades they like, they could leave him as the last man standing, a superstar alone on a gutted team. However, that wouldn’t seem to be a positive experience for anyone involved, and in any case, a Marlins person suggested that that absolutely will not happen.
All of the interested teams offer something. But the guess now is that the Dodgers are the choice, at least for the time being.
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