Ah … our little background playoff distraction continues.
Earlier today, Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) wrote that the Marlins are reportedly interested in bringing their payroll down to around the $90 million range by next season (a decrease of about $25 million on their 2017 Opening Day Payroll and a decrease of about $50 on their projected 2018 Opening Day Payroll).
I bring that up because before the start of NLDS Game One (last Friday), rumors were swirling around baseball regarding Giancarlo Stanton’s potential availability this winter. And if you recall, the Phillies, Giants, and Cardinals were considered to be among the teams showing the strongest interest to date.
But while fresher rumors have popped up confirming the interest of those teams (and a couple of others), one interesting new bit from Nick Cafardo in the Boston Globe might be of special interest to many of you:
“We mention a lot of teams as possible landing spots for the slugger — primarily the Yankees, Giants, Phillies, and Red Sox — but keep your eye on the Cubs. Theo Epstein has an arsenal of players the Marlins would love to get.”
If you think back to the All-Star break earlier this year, Ken Rosenthal loosely connected the Cubs to the Miami slugger, suggesting that there could be a fit there, and, yeah, sure, I can see it. The Cubs are well within a win-now mode, and are always open to adding young talent that fits with their core, (almost) regardless of the cost.
To be crystal clear, most signs have pointed to the Cubs reserving their resources (to an extent) this offseason to go after one of the many big names after 2018 (including Bryce Harper), and/or Shohei Otani, to the extent that becomes possible. But, hey, if an opportunity presents itself for someone like Stanton, you don’t dismiss it.
And consider this: after the 2018 season, a 28-year-old Giancarlo Stanton will earn $270 million over his next nine seasons through 2027 (assuming you’d buy out his last year for $10 million, per his contract), while a 26-year-old Bryce Harper will probably earn about $450(ish) million to play some 10-15 seasons.
Bryce Harper is the superior player, but that’s nearly $200 million in extra salary (and don’t just consider the cost, consider what that does to the AAV for luxury tax cap purposes). It’s just something to think about.
Of course, the money isn’t the only thing, as you’d likely have to give up some solid talent to get Stanton in the first place (the range of which depends on how much salary the Marlins eat, if any).
As to whom the Marlins could be interested, well that’s nearly impossible to say, because there are so many good young players in the Cubs organization. If I were a gambling man, I’d say other than Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Addison Russell, pretty much everyone else on the positional side would be in play at least in a chit-chat fashion, possibly even someone like Jason Heyward, who could help offset Stanton’s contract (the Marlins specifically mentioned that they don’t want Stanton’s deal to be just a salary dump), but that’s purely speculative.
It would obviously take more than Heyward, but if the Marlins are determined not to completely rebuild (they have some interesting guys down there in Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich), getting a guy like Heyward could be a nice way to show the fans they’re still trying while cutting $167.5 million from the payroll. But again, it would likely take more than the salary offset and Heyward to get Stanton (and let me reiterate: this is just me thinking out loud here for instructive purposes).
In any case, while Stanton’s availability remains quite likely, the Cubs’ interest/involvement is much less so. For now, it remains just a seedling of a rumor based off a stray comment from one Boston-based writer (but I will say Cafardo is usually quite good on these things).
This has the potential to be a very interesting offseason, but I’m still hoping that doesn’t start for the Cubs until sometime in late October/early November.