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Heyman | Skepticism remains that Stanton would go to Cardinals

Sep 28, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) looks on from the dugout in the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A contingent of St. Louis Cardinals power brokers traveled to Los Angeles and — like the San Francisco Giants — will make their case that Miami Marlins superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton should consider playing for their team for the next 10 years.

What a nice case it is: The Cardinals are one of the most consistently successful teams in recent years (and historically) despite missing the playoffs the last two years. They have a reasonably young team that can be augmented by one of the best collections of prospects who are close to making in impact in the game. The Cardinals are also financially able to do things that are needed.

However, it may be a tough sell for the Cardinals, a very tough sell according to some people familiar with the situation.

While Marlins bosses would love to ultimately do the deal with the Cardinals – their prospect stash is excellent, and reports by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Craig Mish of Sirius say they might be willing to include a great pitching talent such as Sandy Alcantara – several people connected to the Marlins who know Stanton well suggest they have a hard time seeing Stanton, who has a complete no-trade clause, approve a trade to St. Louis, not when there are more geographically desirable alternatives with winning histories in play.

While Stanton himself has said nothing aloud about his desires, beyond his interview here at FanRag and elsewhere that he has no desire to endure another rebuild in Miami, which is obviously what’s happening there, others with connections to the 2017 N.L. MVP have a strong belief St. Louis will not be his first choice – and he obviously has choices.

One person said he “didn’t see any way” he’d accept the Cardinals but added the disqualifier that he can’t say he knows for sure. Another opined that he’d “100 percent” take the Giants over the Cardinals if that’s the choice, and yet another suggested the Midwest, behind the most preferred West Coast and East Coast, is his “last choice.”

Two others who have some familiarity with the situation gave similar responses. Of course, none of them know for sure (as one pointed out), a lot can change, possibly depending on the presentations. The mere fact that Stanton agreed to have his people meet with the Cardinals has to be taken as a positive sign (no one has said yet whether Stanton himself, who lives in the Hollywood Hills, is in these meetings).

Aug 12, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) connects for a three run home run in the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals, who have made a middle-of-the-order bat a top priority, have been a serious player. The Cardinals people, including GM Michael Girsch and others, are meeting this weekend with Stanton’s people, and the player has obviously given the go-ahead to see what they have to say. The Cardinal meeting was first reported by Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

Sources told FanRag the Marlins believe they can at least make a trade with the Giants, and the fact that the Cardinals’ contingent is in L.A. with Stanton presumably suggests the same about them. However, ultimately, this is mostly Stanton’s call (or all his call, it could be argued), since he has that full no-trade in the record deal that has $295 million to go over 10 years.

Stanton by rights could wait to see whether his presumably preferred hometown Dodgers – who are at least monitoring the recent proceedings with keen interest – could possibly make a deal with the Marlins.

“The Dodgers are his first choice,” one other person told FanRag, and they are not disinterested, either. But while the Dodgers would like to add Stanton, with their current tax situation (they have pared their payroll but are still about $50 million over the threshold), a preference not to do very long deals for anyone, and no obvious need in the outfield, it’s seen as unlikely that they’d make an offer to Miami that would be competitive with the offers of the Giants and Cardinals.

Stanton’s perceived keen interest in going to the Dodgers and L.A.’s own preference not to go long with contracts — even for great players — could possibly lead them also to explore the possibility of massaging his contract in some way (rules disallow players from decreasing their contracts without some commensurate “benefit,” but theoretically it’s possible more opt-outs could be added, for instance). The Dodgers, who have won five straight division titles (the Giants had a World Series win in there, though), are said not necessarily to be worried about the Giants acquiring Stanton and his contract, but rather interested in importing a star they like – if they can make it palatable for them.

Stanton could wait to see what happens with the Dodgers, which would be a much more complicated situation, but he has 10 years with the no-trade so time’s on his side. Or he could choose among the teams with deals that could work for the Marlins – the Giants and presumably the Cardinals. Those two teams plus the Phillies were said to be the most aggressive suitors throughout the summer, and people close to Stanton see Philly as a probable non-starter since they are still rebuilding. “Five or six teams” were said to be in the mix by Marlins sources as of early last week, and the Yankees and Red Sox, while long shots, have at least been in contact.

Stanton could also make this easier on the Marlins by merely accepting the Giants or the Cardinals – though if he accepts one, people who know him would be surprised if it’s not San Francisco.

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