Giancarlo Stanton hit his 50th home run of the season yesterday and, at age 27, is putting up a career year, leading the league in homers, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. He’s always had tremendous power and tremendous promise. It’s amazing what health will do when thrown into the mix. At the same time, Stanton plays for the Miami Marlins who are in the process of being sold and will soon have a new baseball operations group who may not think that devoting close to $300 million to one player is a great idea.
There are pros and cons to keeping or trading Stanton away, but all of baseball is watching Stanton rake and, if he does become available, there are going to be a a boat load of teams with an interest in him. Some, Bob Nightengale reports, have already called:
The San Francisco Giants recently called, and privately informed the Miami Marlins of their interest. So have the St. Louis Cardinals. The Texas Rangers. The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t want to be left out, either. They all have one thing in mind. They want Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, and while it’s not realistic now, it could be by the start of the 2018 season.
Stanton has cleared revocable waivers, so he’s eligible to be dealt to any club. That he wasn’t claimed, however, meant that no club is willing to risk simply assuming Stanton’s $285 million deal if the Marlins just let him walk. It’s doubtful that the Marlins would do that, however, as a trade of Stanton would work better as the major move of a rebuilding effort. It’s already hard to sell Marlins tickets with Stanton as a draw. It’ll be harder to sell tickets to Marlins games without Stanton as a draw. If the new owners did that AND simply dumped him for financial purposes without getting some hope for the future in return, they’d be run out of town on a rail before they put their suitcases down.
So no, a Stanton trade is not going to be easy to make, if indeed the Marlins wish to trade him. But it certainly seems like talk of a Stanton trade is going to dominate the offseason.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.