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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.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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