Although the free agent decisions of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and, to a lesser extent, Shohei Ohtani are likely playing their part in holding up the offseason dam, I have to imagine the impending trade of Giancarlo Stanton is the biggest domino (log?).
Not only is he a franchise-altering player that can change the entire landscape of a team’s offseason/immediate future, but the amount of money moving around (up to $295M) can put a wrench in downstream moves, as well, as Brett discussed earlier today.
Fortunately, Jerry Crasnick is hearing that a decision could be coming! … unfortunately, it might still be a matter of weeks:
A couple of MLB teams have gotten the sense there could be a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton situation by the winter meetings Dec. 10. (Either the #Marlins trade him by then, or interested teams determine it's time to branch out and more actively explore their Plan B's).
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 27, 2017
Okay, that’s a start. We now know the “When?” of it all, but we still need the “Who?”
So far, the rumors seem to suggest that the Giants, Phillies, and Cardinals are the most serious suitors, while the Dodgers are Stanton’s preferred landing spot. Other teams – the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees – have also been rumored at various times and levels of seriousness (Cubs here, if you missed it a while ago), but for the most part that’s about it.
Well, until now:
Also hearing that the #STLCards and #SFGiants — the two most prominently mentioned Stanton suitors — aren't the only teams actively involved in a pursuit of the NL MVP. Several other unspecified clubs have engaged with the #Marlins. (Yep, "mystery teams.")
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 27, 2017
I’m assuming, given Crasnick’s proximity to these things, that these “mystery teams” do not include the Phillies, Red Sox, or Dodgers, whose interest in Stanton has more or less been confirmed in recent weeks/months. Instead, I’m guessing these are more true-to-form “mystery” teams – i.e., teams we may not have otherwise expected.
But here’s the thing, there are only so many teams capable of eating the amount of salary the Marlins are likely hoping to shed, and the Dodgers, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals are five of them.
The other big-market clubs capable of taking on a bunch of salary include the Tigers (not gonna happen as they’re rebuilding), Angels (they’re looking for infield help, not outfield after re-upping with Justin Upton), Rangers (maybe), Blue Jays (they have a need, but are in a dicey organizational spot), Diamondbacks (have never spent huge dollars outside of the Zack Greinke deal), Nationals (not likely unless they’re moving well in advance of losing Bryce Harper next year), Yankees, and Cubs.
It’s *possible* that there’s a small market team or two trying to work out something financially-possible with the Marlins, but it seems very unlikely those talks would go beyond a five-minute phone call. Is that “engaging” with the Marlins?
With this in mind, let’s take a (shot in the dark) wild guess and say the mystery team(s) is one or more of the Yankees, Cubs, Rangers, or Diamondbacks. And given the way the tides are turning on the South Side of Chicago, and the DH possibility in the future, I wouldn’t put the White Sox completely out of the question either.
Altogether, that’s five known quantities in on Stanton and up to five more potential suitors, who could have already reached out to show their interest. Suddenly, I understand why the offseason has moved so slowly.
[Brett: I get the question a lot, so I’ll address it here. No, I don’t think the Cubs are a realistic landing spot for Stanton right now. Given their rotation needs in the medium and long-term, given their positional depth, given their overload in the outfield, given their anticipated (by me, at least) pursuit of Bryce Harper, and given Jason Heyward’s huge contract in the outfield, I’m not sure I see Stanton as enough of an obvious target for the Cubs that they’d take on as much of the contract as the Marlins will want.
Moreover, although the Cubs could send a quality position player over to the Marlins, many are already nearing arbitration eligibility (not what the Marlins are going to want), and/or may not be valuable enough to the Marlins to offset a SUBSTANTIAL chunk of Stanton’s contract if the Marlins are dead-set-convinced that it’s a market-value deal (despite the opt out).
In other words, I have trouble seeing a realistic trade between these two teams that BOTH teams find acceptable. Sure, you could maneuver a Heyward swap in there if it were truly all about the money for the Marlins (and if Stanton strong-armed his way into a very limited market with his no-trade clause and really wanted to go to the Cubs), but Heyward – who also has a no-trade clause – would have no reason to accept a trade. I just don’t see it, folks.
Would I buy that the Cubs have checked in? Absolutely. Stanton is Stanton. Why wouldn’t you check in with a new ownership group that might be desperate or un-savvy? But an actual trade? I think it’s extremely unlikely.]