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Heyman | Giants early favorites in potential Stanton trade

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) blasted his MLB-leading 57th homer run and established the Marlins club record of 124 RBIs in a season during the baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 23, 2017, at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. (Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)

The San Francisco Giants are seen as a very early favorite for Giancarlo Stanton, the superstar who is expected to be shopped this year.

Stanton, who said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Tuesday night that he would be meeting with Marlins brass after the World Series, has the ultimate decision-making power in where he lands with his complete no-trade clause, and the Giants are viewed among the preferred destinations. While Stanton, who told FanRag Sports last month that he isn’t up for another rebuild, has kept quiet all his preferences, people who know him say the Giants would likely be high on his list despite their uncharacteristically poor 2017 season.

Sources suggest the Marlins and Giants haven’t spoken about the slugging superstar yet this winter, but new Marlins boss Derek Jeter is presumably just waiting to have his confab with Stanton to see where he stands before beginning the process. The Marlins know this is a major undertaking, the likely centerpiece to a winter where they hope to cut their payroll by tens of millions, from the $115 million range to around $85 million to $90 million, as they rebuild and remake things.

The Giants, Cardinals and Phillies were the most interested pursuers this summer – though then Marlins ownership made clear at the time there was no intention to trade Stanton while the sale of the franchise was proceeding. Of the three, the deep suspicion is that the Giants would suit Stanton most.

The Marlins are not only looking to cut payroll after losing a reputed $60 million-plus this year, but to rebalance their team and bolster a weak pitching situation at the major- and minor-league levels. While the Marlins spent a franchise record $115 million on player payroll this year, natural raises for rising stars could bring it to $130 million, or more, this year. So there is much work to do.

Stanton is the natural one to trade as his salary more than doubles to $25 million on his backloaded deal this year, but if they somehow can’t find a deal for him – the no-trade clause is a factor, remember – they might have to look at deals for more cost-efficient stars like Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, who are due smaller raises but will be making significant dollars in coming years.

Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton (27) raises his bat after he struck out swinging for his last at bat during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Miami. The Braves won 8-5. Stanton finished the season with 59 home runs. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The Giants have made clear they have no intention to rebuild despite having the worst record in the NL, and with their strong fan base and legendary, a stable of stars under contract, a recent history of titles with those very players and legendary Bruce Bochy under contract two more years, nobody doubts that they mean it.

Stanton, an MVP favorite, doesn’t talk publicly about his wish list, and his agents will try to keep the process as quiet as possible. However Stanton, a native of the Los Angeles Valley who’s lived out there most winters and has been a career Marlin, is believed to prefer either coast, with the West Coast most preferred. The Dodgers, currently in the World Series, would likely top the list, but despite increasing revenue, they haven’t yet been seen as a likely pursuer because they have been endeavoring to control MLB’s top payroll, which is down to about $240 million.

The Giants are also appealing as an organization that has won three rings this decade with its solid core of veteran stars (despite its record), intention to win again next year and reputation as a model franchise. Their streak of sellouts ended this year, but they are on solid ground and haven’t been averse to signing a big free agent to a mega-contract, as they did with Barry Zito and their own controversial all-time great, Barry Bonds. Stanton has a whopping $295 million to go on his record $325 million, 13-year deal.

Giants people are suggesting that in this age of the long ball, they will need to improve their power after a year in which they were last in the NL in home runs. Their outfield was also about the poorest in baseball by many statistical measures, both offensively and also defensively, so Stanton definitely would fit.

The Yankees made one phone call around the time of the All-Star break, but are now seen as an unlikely landing spot since they are determined to get under the $197 million luxury tax threshold in 2018 and have right-handed sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. The Red Sox are a subject of much speculation due to their diminished power in 2017, but so far it’s just that — speculation.

The Dodgers as Stanton’s rich and winning hometown team also make sense, while the Angels, another attractive landing spot for him that has paid for big slugging stars in the past, have Albert Pujols under contract, are trying to lock up righty slugger Justin Upton and would love to keep their own superstar Mike Trout.

This could turn out to be a drawn-out process considering the amount of money involved, and of course Stanton’s major voice in the process. The $295 million doesn’t seen as quite the hindrance as before following Stanton’s remarkable 2017 season in which he hit 59 home runs – which was 20 more than the runner-up in the NL, Cody Bellinger, even in the biggest year ever for home runs. Though, the Marlins probably would have to offset the contract a bit, rival execs see Stanton as worth $200 million plus at this point, not only for his production but his potential drawing prowess once out of South Florida.

The one real question about the Giants is an overall weakness of prospects – though they do have a few. From that standpoint, the Phillies, and especially the Cardinals, would have an edge. However, some around the Marlins doubt that he’d entertain Philly considering they like the Marlins, they are in a rebuild, and the Cardinals may not be as appealing as the Giants based on geography.

The Cardinals, with top pitching prospects such as Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara and Jack Flaherty, would likely be someone the Marlins would like to deal with – but, of course Stanton is driving this bus. The Dodgers are also flush with prospects, including Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Yusnial Diaz and Yadier Alvarez.

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