The market for Giancarlo Stanton continues to heat up, as the Giants appear to be emerging as favorites to land the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, a source tells MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal first reported that the Giants have submitted an offer to the Marlins, and that proposals are expected soon from the Red Sox and Dodgers, if they have not come in already. The Cardinals have also made an offer, and although San Francisco appears to have the edge, St. Louis "may still be a factor," in the running for Stanton Feinsand reports.
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According to Craig Mish of SiriusXM, the Marlins and Giants have exchanged names in their talks for a potential Stanton deal, with Stanton and speedy infielder Dee Gordon involved, along with Giants infielder Joe Panik and two San Francisco prospects -- right-hander Tyler Beede and outfielder Chris Shaw.
According to MLBPipeline.com, Shaw is ranked as the Giants' No. 2 prospect, with Beede No. 3. Shaw hit 24 home runs between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento while playing left field and first base in 2017, while Beede reached Richmond but has struggled with his command since his days as a standout at Vanderbilt. Prior reports also indicated that the Marlins would be interested in the Giants' No. 4 prospect Heliot Ramos, who was San Francisco's first-round selection in the 2017 Draft and has a chance to stick in center field. Neither the Giants nor Marlins have commented on any negotiations involving Stanton.
Gordon, who led the Majors in steals this season with 60, is owed $37.9 million through 2020. Trading for Panik, who was an All-Star in 2015 and would be a natural replacement for Gordon at second base, could potentially save money, as he is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and is controlled by his club for three more years.
While the Cardinals have not confirmed that an offer has been made, their proposal reportedly includes their No. 9 prospect, right-hander Sandy Alcantara. The existence of St. Louis' offer shows that the team is serious about its pursuit of a power hitter. At a relatively early stage of the offseason, the Cardinals are trying to ascertain the practicality of trading for Stanton -- both in meeting the Marlins' price tag and convincing Stanton to waive his no-trade clause.
The Marlins are aiming to move as much of the remaining $295 million Stanton is owed over the next 10 years off their books. The slugger is set to make $25 million in 2018, and in addition to the full no-trade clause, his contract includes an out-provision after 2020.
The Cardinals have one of the best combinations of prospect depth and financial might of any potential Stanton suitor. The Marlins are prioritizing young starting pitchers in their asking prices for Stanton, sources say, and the Cardinals possess power-armed right-handers Alex Reyes (No. 14 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list; (No. 1 on Cards' Top 30 list), Jack Flaherty (No. 47 in Top 100; No. 3 on Cards' Top 30), and Alcantara.
The Cardinals also have the payroll capacity to add a superstar -- if not now then certainly next offseason, when Adam Wainwright's $19.5 million salary comes off the books and Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson are slated to be available via free agency.
While the fit is logical on paper, it's also entirely contingent on Stanton's wishes. He can reject any trade and is believed to prefer West Coast destinations, according to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman. Left unknown is whether Stanton would remain with the rebuilding Marlins for another season or accept a trade to St. Louis, if those are the only options presented to him.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch likely will use the next several days to determine the viability of their chances to acquire Stanton. If the negotiations stall, the Cardinals could move on to potential offensive upgrades on the free-agent market, including J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.
Some in the industry expect the Dodgers to make a push to acquire Stanton, although it's unclear if they've made a formal offer. Stanton, a Southern California native, grew up a Dodgers fan and almost certainly prefers Los Angeles to any other destination. As long as the Dodgers are a possibility, Stanton may find it difficult to agree to a deal with the Cardinals -- a similar paradigm to the one Justin Verlander experienced over the summer. Verlander's preferred destinations were the Dodgers and Cubs, and he only approved a deal to Houston once it was apparent neither option was in play as midnight approached on Aug. 31.
Acquiring Stanton would appear to run counter to the Dodgers' homegrown-focused organizational philosophy under Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi. But two circumstances have changed since Friedman and Zaidi took over three years ago: They've experienced the emotional letdown of losing Game 7 in the World Series, and they're benefiting from big salaries coming off the team's books in the next 12 months.
Andre Ethier became a free agent after the World Series. Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and Hyun-Jin Ryu -- with roughly $60 million due among them in 2018 -- are on track to hit free agency after the upcoming season.
One word of caution on the Dodgers' payroll projection: They need to keep enough cash in reserve, if ace Clayton Kershaw opts out following the 2018 season and becomes a free agent, as his contract permits him to do.