According to MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal, Giants brass met with representatives for Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday to gauge Stanton's interest in being traded to San Francisco.
Because Stanton will technically be "traded," there has been a sense that his impending move out of Miami is some sort of transaction, a normal barter between teams, a back-and-forth "you take him, we want these guys back" sort of deal. But that's not what it is.
Derek Jeter and the Marlins have said they need to drop payroll, and the best way for them to do that as quickly as possible is to trade Stanton. But Stanton has a no-trade clause, which means, essentially, the Marlins are asking him to do them a favor. Stanton doesn't have to leave, and he doesn't have to go anywhere he doesn't want to. He's going to get paid the same amount no matter where he goes, and he's going to hit homers in whatever ballpark he calls home. All of this surrounding him, the Marlins' budget, the Dodgers' payroll tax fears, the Cardinals' need for a power-hitting right fielder, the Giants' desire for him … these are all accurately described as "not Stanton's problem." Just because the Giants and the Cardinals want him doesn't mean he has to go there. As ESPN's Buster Olney pointed out last week, if Stanton tells the Marlins, "trade me to the Dodgers or don't trade me at all," that is absolutely what will happen. He holds all the power.
Which is why the fact that the Giants look like the clear favorite in the Marlins' eyes for Stanton -- because they're reportedly willing to take on his whole contract, not because they're offering the most value in a trade -- is not, all told, that big of a deal. That the Giants are the Marlins' first choice in this, in fact, is irrelevant if Stanton wants it to be. The Angels could take on Stanton's full contract and also offer Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons, the mayorship of Anaheim and an early, exclusive screening of "The Last Jedi," and the Marlins still wouldn't be able to take the deal if Stanton said no. This is the nature of a no-trade clause.
It's all about whether or not Stanton wants to possibly play the rest of his career with the Giants. The Giants made the pitch Thursday. Let's look at the strongest arguments for them and against them.
Arguments for San Francisco
1. The Giants are usually really good. Yes, yes: Last year didn't go precisely as planned. But sheesh, man, these are still the Giants. They've had just two losing seasons in the past decade. They've won the World Series three times since Stanton entered the league. They have a highly motivated ownership group that is motivated to try to win the World Series every season. (As evidenced by the fact that they're trying to trade for Stanton and his contract.) They also, last year aside, still have talent on the roster from Madison Bumgarner to Brandon Belt to fellow National League MVP Award winner Buster Posey. There are far worse situations than batting between Brandon Belt and Buster Posey.
2. The Giants have fantastic fans and play in one of the greatest ballparks on the planet. Seriously, have you seen this stadium, Giancarlo? Oh, right, you have:
The place is gorgeous, and he'd get to play there all the time. And Giants fans are among the most dedicated, vocal in the sport: If you succeed there, they will love you forever. (For crying out loud, when the rest of the baseball world was hissing at Barry Bonds, they still adored him in San Francisco.) It's also a great American city, San Francisco, one that you're one of the few people left in the country who can afford to live in. I don't need to sell you on San Francisco.
3. You can opt out in three years if you're unhappy. This is the trump card anywhere, and the best reason for Stanton to accept any deal, to go anywhere. If it's not what you want, you can just leave in three years. Or if you don't want to give up the contract but you're not happy in San Francisco, force a trade. We've seen it work already!
Arguments against San Francisco
1. The Giants are currently not so good. Yes, fine: The Giants have Posey and Bumgarner and Belt. But if the Stanton deal goes through, they still need a second baseman, a left fielder, a center fielder, a third baseman, at least one rotation arm and several bullpen pieces. This team won 64 games last year, which is 13 fewer than the Marlins; at one point, they were 41 games out of first. Adding Stanton's contract will also make it more difficult to add other pieces. And they might even have to get rid of some players (perhaps even Belt!) to afford to bring Stanton in. Stanton has never played in a postseason game. If he accepts this trade, he is highly unlikely to play in one in 2018 either.
2. The Giants are likely to be not so good for a while. The Giants were near the bottom of MLB Pipeline's organizational power rankings last August, and considering the Marlins will want some of those prospects in return for Stanton, it's about to be even more depleted. The Giants have an old team -- the only regular under 30 in their starting lineup last year was Joe Panik, who is reportedly one of the players the Marlins want back for Stanton -- and don't have the prospects ready to come in and take over spots as the lineup ages out. And the Giants won't have the resources to bring in free-agent replacements: They'd be spending a lot on Stanton. There is a non-zero possibility that in three years, the Marlins have a better team than the Giants do. Stanton is not joining a team on the rise; he's joining a team that could, theoretically, be starting a White Sox-esque rebuild by 2020. Why would Stanton want to be a part of that, particularly when the Dodgers and the Cardinals, two teams with far brighter futures, are knocking on his door?
3. The Dodgers. The general consensus is that, if all things were equal, Stanton would just go to Los Angeles, the place he wants to live year-round. That's totally reasonable: Los Angeles is a wonderful city. And the Dodgers have built an organization that looks like a World Series contender every year for a decade to come. I'd want to play there too. But the one thing I wouldn't want to do is sign up for the job of having to beat them -- of having to be their primary rival, no less -- while they are in the zenith of their power. Stanton's prime happens to be running parallel to the Dodgers' ascendance, which is great for him if he joins the Dodgers but decidedly not if he joins their division rival. The Dodgers are heavy favorites in the NL West for the next half-decade, at least, which means the Giants may be fighting for a Wild Card spot, at best. This is a terrible time to try to take out the Dodgers. And it's even worse if you're trying to do so during the prime of your career. If he goes to the Giants, Stanton is signing himself up for an uphill climb.
It's easy to understand why the Giants would want Stanton. It's easy to see why Stanton would want out of Miami. But it is not easy to understand why Stanton would see the Giants as a far better option than simply staying put and waiting until he can go exactly where he wants. Stanton holds all the power, all the cards here. The Giants are an imperfect destination. Stanton can wait for perfection. He should.
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