Miami Marlins

Heyman | Who is leading Stanton sweepstakes?

Many Miami Marlins players aren’t expecting to be back next year due to the expected rebuild/selloff, as was mentioned here in the Giancarlo Stanton interview over the weekend. But the key to the anticipated rebuild is probably Stanton himself.

While Jeter didn’t delve deeply into coming plans in his predictably murky opening news conference (earning some local pans), based on recent revenues and expenditures, and keeping in mind these aren’t the most deep-pocketed owners (they took nearly half a year to put together the money for the team, not that it’s easy), it’s a pretty safe assumption a retooling will be undertaken.

One current Marlins person said it figures that moving Stanton will almost be “imperative” in the process (so his suggestion to FanRag Sports that he’s willing to go if they want to rebuild is a plus for the incoming owners).

There’s rampant speculation in the clubhouse that even the more cost-effective vets, such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and perhaps even J.T. Realmuto, could be on the block, as the team is expected to look to get even younger and move the timeline ahead a few years. But a Marlins person said he believed that Realmuto and Yelich are stars they least want to trade because of the time remaining before they can become free agents.

The Giants, Cardinals and Phillies were confirmed by sources as the “most aggressive” pursuers of Stanton this summer. Given Stanton’s remark to FanRag that he “won’t rebuild,” it’s time to take another look at which teams the Marlins could target for a trade.

While the $295 million remaining on Stanton’s deal will limit the prospect stash they’d get back, presumably the Marlins would want to receive significant pieces, even if it meant paying down the contract to a degree. A contract giveaway would be a PR nightmare. Stanton, of course, has aided their cause with his monster year (more on that in my awards picks), but he has a complete no-trade clause which complicates things for the team.

1. Cardinals. They have a need for a middle-of-the-order bat, and importantly, the perfect mix of prospects to make a deal. They even have talented young pitchers the Marlins need, with Alex Reyes (who may be untouchable), plus Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver and Sandy Alcantara, who really opened people’s eyes this year.

The Cardinals have made clear publicly that a middle-of-the-order bat is a prime need. Stanton has said how much he wants to win, and the Cardinals are competitive, at the very least, every year, and people don’t believe he is just blowing smoke. They see winning as the key to any Stanton call, not geography.

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)

2. Phillies. They have the position players to make a deal, with depth in the middle of the infield and prospects at many positions, though they are quite a bit thinner in the pitching department. The Phillies seem loaded with spending loot thanks to a rich TV deal, and seem primed to go for it. However, they were an also-ran this year, may be at least a year away and can ill-afford to give up any pitching.

3. Giants. They also have a deep need for a run producer, and in their case, it’s obvious that it would need to be an outfielder. So Stanton would be a great fit from their perspective. There’s been some suggestion they don’t have the money, but the Giants always seem to find it (the same word was going around before they signed Barry Zito).

They don’t plan to rebuild, which might be reassuring to Stanton, but they were the second-worst team in baseball this year by record, so it may take a year or two to get back to their usual lofty perch. It can’t hurt that it’s California, as Stanton grew up in the San Fernando Valley in L.A., though winning is the key for Stanton.

4. Field. The Dodgers have the prospects and money coming off the books, and would presumably appeal to Stanton for their locale, current roster and future prospects.

The Angels have money coming off the books, too, but they are light on prospects, need money to lock up Mike Trout at some point and are seen as more likely to try to keep their own guy, Justin Upton, perhaps even if he should opt out.

The Yankees checked in, and they have the prospects, but they have Aaron Judge in right field and are determined to get below the $197 million luxury tax threshold.

The Red Sox (the most popular rumor in the Marlins’ clubhouse) didn’t adequately replace David Ortiz, have the money, the right ballpark and solid future prospects with star pieces in key spots.

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