Report: Marlins are trying to strongarm Giancarlo Stanton into accepting a trade

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The Marlins, with fresh new ownership, are going into one of their familar firesale modes, which means the club is actively looking to trade star slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton, who just won the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player Award, has a full no-trade clause and reportedly prefers to go to the Dodgers. Stanton is from Los Angeles. The Dodgers, however, may not end up being a fit. If Stanton doesn’t like his options, he can simply refuse to waive his no-trade clause and remain with the Marlins.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins have warned Stanton that if he does refuse to waive his no-trade clause, he’ll be the only star because the team would attempt to trade other players to reduce payroll. Spencer notes that the Marlins didn’t present the statement as an ultimatum, but it pretty much is. The Marlins’ payroll target, according to Spencer, is $90 million. Without factoring in arbitration-eligible players, the Marlins already have nearly $132 million committed for 2018.

Other players the Marlins would explore trading include Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon, J.T. Realmuto, Martin Prado, Edinson Volquez, and Justin Bour, among others. Prado, who has the second-highest salary on the team at $13.5 million, will earn just over half of Stanton’s 2018 salary — $25 million. He’s owed $295 million for the remainder of his 10-year, $325 million contract. Needless to say, getting another team to assume a large portion of Stanton’s contract would be the most efficient way for the Marlins to create payroll flexibility. Of course, in requiring a team to pay off Stanton’s contract, the Marlins have very little leverage with which to request good prospects. That’s a problem, too.

Any team acquiring Stanton would be getting a proven slugger in the prime of his career. Now 28 years old, Stanton is coming off a season in which he hit .281/.376/.631 with 59 home runs, 132 RBI, and 123 runs scored in 692 plate appearances. It was, however, just the third time in Stanton’s eight-year career that he crossed the 600-PA threshold.

The Cardinals and Giants have reportedly shown the most interest in acquiring Stanton. Neither of those teams play in Los Angeles.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.