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giancarlo stantonThere was a time not so long ago that Anthony Rizzo was leading the National League in home runs. Partly due to a homer drought by Rizzo, and partly due to an offensive explosion by another player, that is no longer true.

While Rizzo is at a very-excellent 25 bombs on the year, Giancarlo is pacing the field with 31. And that’s not the only thing Stanton is doing this year.

He’s also posting .292/.393/.568 line with a .407 wOBA and a ridiculous 162 wRC+. He’s already been worth 4.8 WAR, according to FanGraphs, and is among the two or three most valuable players in the NL this year by any measure.

One more thing: Stanton is playing this season at age 24. He’s actually younger than Rizzo, who just turned 25.

Why am I mentioning all of this? Am I making some comparison between Rizzo and Stanton? Of course not. That would be silly. The mentions of Rizzo are merely to provide some context for just how good, and how young, Stanton is.

And he’s about to head into his second year of arbitration, with free agency on the horizon after 2016. For most teams, this would be the time to go all out on an extension for a budding young superstar. But, as we know, the Marlins aren’t always able to summon the … fortitude to lock up guys like Stanton. And if an extension isn’t in the offing, perhaps it’ll be time to shop Stanton. He’s making $6.5 million this year, and could easily top $10 million in 2015, and $15 million in 2016. Those aren’t small numbers for the Marlins’ typically micro budget.

So, will the Marlins extend Stanton? Shop him?

Well, Jon Heyman reports that the Marlins do intend on making a legitimate attempt to extend Stanton this offseason. But they aren’t optimistic about their chances to get something done.

If the Marlins can’t lock Stanton up – you’ve got to figure that it would take at least $20 million annually over six to eight seasons (and that’s including the arbitration discount), and probably more like $25 million annually – then perhaps they’ll see what’s out there in trade as soon as this offseason or at next year’s deadline.

If that happens, you can expect one of the most interesting, and obsessively-covered player-specific rumors in recent memory (not by me, necessarily, but around baseball, I mean). When has a 24/25-year-old MVP candidate been shopped? It’s been a few years. Sure, there are health concerns with Stanton, but the present talent level, let alone the upside, is enormous. Would the Cubs have interest? I’d expect they would, and they certainly have the kind of farm system that could swing a deal for Stanton.

But it would be extremely pricey. We’ll have to see if Stanton’s availability emerges as a storyline this Winter.

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