A rumor recently broke that the Cardinals were attempting to trade for Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. The Marlins have been tied to trade rumors around Stanton since they traded off most of their high priced players before the 2013 season. They didn’t trade him then when he was unhappy, and they won’t trade him now.
Stanton was drafted by the Marlins in the second round of the 2007 draft. He worked his way through the system in 3 years, and debuted for the Marlins during the 2010 season. In 100 games, the slugger hit 100 homers while slashing .259/.326/.507. His power continued to be his calling card the next 3 seasons, hitting 34, 37, and 24 homers each of those seasons. He gradually increased his average until 2013 when he missed a bit of time to injury.
This season, Stanton is hitting .312 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs (which leads the league in HRs and RBIs). The Marlins are also sporting a winning record. What would make them trade their best hitter now?
Sure, Jose Fernandez is going to miss the rest of the season with Tommy John surgery. Players like Casey McGehee, Tom Koehler and Garret Jones are going to regress. The team will probably not win the division.
Looking at comps for Stanton, the 10 best by age (according to Baseball Reference) are:
1. Juan Gonzalez
2. Tony Conigliaro
3. Jose Canseco
4. Boog Powell
5. Darryl Strawberry
6. Justin Upton
7. Bob Horner
8. Jack Clark
9. Andruw Jones
10. Ruben Sierra
Justin Upton might be a good comparison for what the Cardinals would have to give up. The Diamondbacks traded Upton (and Chris Johnson) to the Braves and received Martin Prado and prospects Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, Randall Delgado, and Zeke Spruill. The Cardinals would have to give up a similar package for Stanton.
Craig would be out; the Marlins traditionally go for players with lower salaries and Craig has shown little ability to hit this year. Instead of Craig, they would probably require Matt Adams; first base is a whole for the Marlins and he’s very inexpensive (yes…his power is down too right now, but I think he’ll be a typical power hitter over the span of his career). He’d be the equivalent to Prado. Miller would probably be included in the deal, and he’d take the place of Delgado.
That leaves probably 2 more prospects to get Stanton. I could see the Marlins going for Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk; they’ll need a player that can fill in for Stanton now and both guys appear to be on the cusp of the Majors (Grichuk has already gotten a quick call up this year). The final prospect would probably have to be a pitcher, and I don’t see any of the guys that are close to the Majors as guys the Marlins would want; Tim Cooney, Tyler Lyons, and Zach Petrick are solid prospects, but nothing to get excited about. That means they’d probably want Carlos Martinez or Kevin Siegrist; I’d say both are probably off the table since that would take away two important pieces of the Major League bullpen.
Even if the Cardinals were to offer Adams, Miller, Piscotty, and Siegrist, the Marlins would probably pass. They’ve taken serious PR hits when they dealt Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson to the Blue Jays, along with the other dismantled teams in their past; dealing Stanton would probably be worse.
For the Cardinals, that’s a steep price to pay for 3+ years of Stanton. The Marlins are paying him $6.5M this season; in arbitration next year, he’s probably seeing a raise to $10M. All 4 guys the Cardinals would have to move are under team control until at least 2018; on top of that, they are making less than $2M together this year. The Cardinals have the money to take on Stanton, but the price is huge on their side in dollars and talent. On top of that, it doesn’t fit what the Cardinals have done the last few years; they’ve built their own core of players through free agency (Holliday, Peralta) and player development (Craig, Wacha, Miller), and have only traded for supplemental players (Bourjos, Mujica). Their model has worked, so why change it now.