Before we get started, can I just say that I’m so here for a winter full of Miami Marlins trade rumors? Say what you will about the organization, but they have been a treasure-trove of interesting offseason transaction stories in the last half-decade.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss the reports, the new Marlins owners are angling to downsize their 2018 payroll to roughly $90 million by Opening Day. And while that’s all well and good, their current 2018 projection has them somewhere in the $140 million range … so, yeah, there’s some serious pork to cut.
According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins plan on making up some/most of that $50 million ($140M to $90M) by prioritizing trades for Giancarlo Stanton ($25M in 2018), Dee Gordon ($10.5M), and Martin Prado ($13.5M). And while, at most, the Cubs would have plausible interest in just one of those three players (take a guess), that doesn’t mean the players’ presence on the market can’t affect their plans in other ways.
First of all, yes, I’m guessing the Chicago Cubs will at least check in on Stanton at least once this offseason, because why wouldn’t they? He’s a player in the prime of his career and the Cubs are one of just a handful of big market clubs capable of taking on his salary and competing for a division title in 2018. With that said, a move for Stanton would likely take some serious creativity on the part of the Cubs (perhaps even including Jason Heyward’s contract in one way or another) and could seriously limit their maneuverability in the HUGE free agent class next offseason.
Moreover, given the known interest from other big-market, outfield-needy teams (Cardinals, Giants, Phillies, to name three), plus the no-trade rights in Heyward’s contract (full no-trade in the first three years), this might be too difficult to pull off.
Still, like I said, trading for Stanton isn’t the only way the Cubs and Marlins’ offseasons could become intertwined this winter. And I don’t just mean because Marlins players could go to Cubs rivals, or could generally impact the free agent market. But, yeah, those things, too.
If you’ve been following the rumors closely, you’ll know that the Cubs seem primed to trade a position player from the big league roster for pitching help sometime in the next three months. If the Marlins are also making three position players available, the market for the Cubs’ guys could become oversaturated (i.e. a buyer’s market).
Fortunately, the Cubs have one huge advantage over the Marlins: cost control.
According to that same report in the Miami Herald, while the Marlins are open to trading the more expensive players (Stanton, Gordon, and Prado), they are much less willing to move guys like Christian Yelich (on a team-friendly seven year/$49 million deal) or Marcell Ozuna (controlled via arbitration the next two years before free agency) in a trade. The Cubs, by contrast, have (pretty much) exclusively young, pre-arb position players. So while Yelich and Ozuna could rival most of them in terms of talent, the overall package for the Cubs’ youngsters will probably be more attractive to buyers.
With that said, it sounds like absolutely nothing is off the table, as the Marlins are clearly quite serious about cutting payroll. In any case, one thing is certain: tracking the Marlins’ trade maneuverings will be important, as it could impact the Cubs in a number of ways. It’s going to be a fun offseason.