ST. LOUIS -- Following a week in which the Cardinals and Giants tried to sell their respective organizations in pitches to Giancarlo Stanton and his representatives, momentum appears to be gaining toward a resolution.After making it known that they intended to listen seriously to offers for Stanton, the Marlins, led
ST. LOUIS -- Following a week in which the Cardinals and Giants tried to sell their respective organizations in pitches to Giancarlo Stanton and his representatives, momentum appears to be gaining toward a resolution.
After making it known that they intended to listen seriously to offers for Stanton, the Marlins, led by new chief executive officer Derek Jeter, spent November surveying interest in the reigning National League MVP Award winner. St. Louis and San Francisco quickly separated themselves from other clubs with their earnest and unwavering pursuit.
The Cards and Giants submitted formal trade proposals, and after the Marlins agreed upon the general framework of a deal with both teams, they were granted permission to speak to Stanton last week. Now, the decision is his.
Stanton's no-trade clause grants him the power to determine where he wants to play next season. If Stanton were to veto trades to both the Cardinals and Giants, the Marlins would have to either pivot in their plans to trade him or convince another team to heighten its interest in Stanton. Such a move would represent a risk both for the player and for the organization.
The most critical unknown at this time is how Stanton feels about the possibility of playing at least the next three and perhaps the next 10 seasons in either St. Louis and San Francisco, should he not opt out of his contract after 2020. The Los Angeles native is believed to prefer playing in Southern California, though he has not publicly stated an unwillingness to consider other destinations.
Regardless, geography is likely to be the biggest obstacle for the Cards to overcome in what has become the boldest trade pursuit in organizational history. What the club can sell, however, is its winning tradition, deep farm system, passionate fan base and a Spring Training facility adjacent to the one Stanton has used his entire professional career.
These were points likely emphasized by owner Bill DeWitt Jr., president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Michael Girsch when the three spoke to Stanton's representatives on Friday. If Stanton is insistent on landing in California, the Giants, of course, would have the edge.
The allure of adding one of baseball's most prolific hitters into their lineup was too great for the Cardinals to ignore as they set out to retool parts of their roster this offseason. Stanton led the league with 59 homers, 132 RBIs and a .631 slugging percentage last season. It's the sort of production that is rarely available in the trade market -- which is why the Cards have not only indicated a willingness to take on the majority of the guaranteed $295 million owed to Stanton over the next 10 years, but also trade top talent from their system to appease the Marlins.
Such a contract would more than double the largest financial commitment the Cardinals have ever made, dwarfing the $120 million deal for Matthew Holliday from 2010-16.
Stanton's contract includes a $25 million salary for 2018 before peaking at $32 million annually from '23-25. It also contains the opt-out clause after '20 (when Stanton will be 31 years old) and a club option for '28 that is worth $25 million.
Though the club already has about $126 million committed in salaries -- a figure that doesn't include raises for its arbitration-eligible players or additional offseason acquisitions -- for 2018, the Cards do have the financial flexibility to take on Stanton's contract. The team also has a new TV rights deal worth more than $1 billion starting next year that will increase revenue.
While the Cardinals wait for Stanton's decision, they also continue to plot out where they may pivot should their trade proposal be rejected. The organization is determined to add a middle-of-the-order hitter this offseason in an effort to get back to the postseason following a two-year absence.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.