Giancarlo Stanton in St. Louis? Giancarlo Stanton in San Francisco? If you’re dreaming about where the defending National League MVP might end up next season, there’s no sense in dreaming any bigger than that. The Stanton sweepstakes are reportedly down to the Cardinals and the Giants, and Stanton will have full and final say over which team wins out.
The Derek Jeter–led Marlins are doing something very, uh, interesting with their first major transaction. They’ve made dumping Stanton’s significant salary a priority, and seem not so concerned with getting top-tier prospects in exchange for their cornerstone star, per Buster Olney.
Which, sure: Move the league’s strongest big boy just to get his salary off your hands. Being a Marlins fan sure seems cool. Without Stanton’s $25 million next season, the Marlins will have $72.9 million in payroll commitments, which is roughly what the Mets are currently slated to pay next season.
In St. Louis, Stanton would replace Stephen Piscotty in right field and join a mediocre offensive lineup in a pitcher’s park. The Cardinals finished four games out of the second Wild Card slot, and Stanton plus another offseason move or two might bring the Cardinals back into contention. Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s St. Louis. This isn’t to crap on the Cardinals. Stanton is this offseason’s biggest domestic star likely to move teams, and he has a certain amount of leverage in how that would go—would he really leave Miami for St. Louis? However, something else to consider: Giancardlo. Thanks.
On the other hand, in San Francisco, Stanton would join a pretty feeble lineup in a bad, bad, pitcher’s park (though honestly, Miami isn’t much better for righties). This seems in some ways to be missing the point. Isn’t the whole idea of having Stanton around to watch him deliver some big ol’ bombs? The Giants’ outfield situation is currently hard to watch, with the left field hole continuing to be a revolving door of replacement-ish level generic guys. The Giants won’t contend next season, and with baseball’s second-highest payroll situation for 2018 already, bringing on Stanton’s contract would severely hamper the team’s ability to do much more to upgrade next year’s team.
This brings us back to the limits of Stanton’s leverage. Realistically, if he could choose for himself, Stanton would likely not even be considering either of these options with any real seriousness. These are simply the two teams with which the Marlins have built tentative deals. Morosi points out that Stanton could just wait for the Marlins to send him to Los Angeles; he grew up a Dodgers fan and they are the only team not currently blocked by the no-trade clause he’d have to waive in any deal. As a Dodger, he’d drop right into ready made contention, and more importantly would create a chance for the rest of baseball to see Yasiel Puig play centerfield, which would fluctuate between spectacular and a spectacular shitshow.
Winter Meetings are next week in Orlando, and the West Coast teams are still sitting in nervous anticipation of Shohei Ohtani’s decision, too. Ohtani’s choice could come down to his December 22 deadline, though, so Stanton will probably be settled much earlier. Again, this isn’t some GM-to-GM haggling situation anymore. Stanton controls his own destiny, at least to a certain extent, and that’s a beautiful thing. It’d just be nice if the options that are apparently on the table right now were a little more inspired, or inspiring.