It is mid-July, and the Miami Marlins are once again looking toward the future.
With the sale of the team nearing ever-closer, could we finally see Giancarlo Stanton leave South Florida after years of speculation?
Stanton has been on fire in July, out-homering Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Nelson Cruz and every other MLB slugger. His bat in the middle of an order could be a real difference maker for a contending team down the stretch or over the next few years. He’s belted seven bombs in 13 July games, hitting 15-for-49 with nine walks and a .306/.424/.796 slash line.
The Fish could move a number of other players, too. There is incentive to minimize the team’s obligations going into its sale, and moving guys like Martin Prado and Dee Gordon could help. But, if Stanton’s contract comes off the books, that’s where this team will see the real savings and added financial flexibility.
Prior to the 2015 campaign, the Marlins inked their rising star to a 13-year, $325 million contract through 2027, adding on an option for 2028 with a sizeable $10 million buy-out. There is an opt-out following 2020. With seven years and $228 million remaining on the table after 2020, it’s certainly conceivable that Stanton sticks out the length of his contract whether it’s in Miami or he’s traded elsewhere.
One extra complicating factor for the Stanton trade talks is his no-trade clause. There are indications that he would be willing to waive it as he’s grown disenchanted with Miami’s inability to build a contender around him.
With so much baggage, it still seems like a bit of a long shot that the star packs his bags and heads out of town. Nevertheless, there is interest in the slugger with a myriad of trade speculation.
Of course, if he does get moved, the acquiring team will get a major contributor for the foreseeable future. That squad will also immediately become a much better selection in our MLB Pick ‘Em Contests even if it’s a re-tooling club with a number of other holes.
Interestingly, the franchises tied the tightest to Stanton at this point are the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. Only one of those locations offers even a remote chance at competing in 2017. The Cardinals are 7.5 games out of a wild card spot and the closest of the three clubs to contending. They’re only 2.5-games ahead of Miami. The Giants and Phillies, meanwhile, have the worst records in baseball—well below the Marlins’ 42-49 mark.
Stanton is on pace for the most homers in his career. He leads the NL in bombs with 28 and has 47 extra base hits. The 27-year-old is already in his eighth season and to this point has hit 236 home runs. His career high in homers is 37 in both 2012 and 2014, but he’s averaging 42 bombs per 162 games. In 2014, Stanton was second in MVP voting after leading the league with a .555 slugging percentage, illustrating just how valuable he can be on the market.
The biggest issue to this point in his career has been health. He’s averaged just 118 games played in his first seven seasons and has averaged just shy of 30 homers per year.
This season, Stanton has posted a 148 OPS+ and has been worth 2.7 rWAR. Overall, he’s averaging a 142 OPS+ and a 30.2 rWAR.
If he can stay healthy, there’s no question he can help in a big way the teams that have him on their radar. The Cardinals have longed for a middle-of-the-order bat the last few years while the outfield production in San Francisco and Philadelphia leave plenty to be desired.
Of course, outside of those teams, there may still be interest among contenders, particularly those with deep pockets like the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. Even for them, however, the contract may be too big to include much in terms of prospects. That is, unless Stanton is willing to agree to a pre-emptive opt-out of the final seven years in order to get into a playoff race and make the contract a bit more palatable for other teams.
All said and done, this is a hitter on track for at least 500 career homers. He could be halfway there following this season at just 27 years of age. With homers trending upwards and him averaging 42 blasts per 162 games, he could be the next player to top 700 if health is on his side.
That’s an awfully valuable player potentially on the market.