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Stanton trade would create ripple effect

Impact of deal involving NL MVP would be felt across MLB
MLB.com @RichardJustice

We're focused on Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise there. You decide to listen to offers for a guy who hit 59 home runs and won the National League MVP Award, you get people's attention. And if a trade does happen -- and that is still no guarantee -- the impact of this trade will be felt in every other front office.

For instance, the market for outfielder J.D. Martinez, the top free-agent slugger, will become a lot more clear. Pitchers could be impacted as well since the teams getting Stanton or Martinez might decide to trade for a pitcher rather than jump back into free agency again.

We're focused on Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise there. You decide to listen to offers for a guy who hit 59 home runs and won the National League MVP Award, you get people's attention. And if a trade does happen -- and that is still no guarantee -- the impact of this trade will be felt in every other front office.

For instance, the market for outfielder J.D. Martinez, the top free-agent slugger, will become a lot more clear. Pitchers could be impacted as well since the teams getting Stanton or Martinez might decide to trade for a pitcher rather than jump back into free agency again.

Hot Stove Tracker

This is the projection game being played in most front offices at the moment. Even the teams that were not going to bid for the top free agents will see a trickle-down impact on their targets.

As the trade rumors swirl, let's consider some possible scenarios if a deal does come to pass:

If the Giants acquire Stanton, does that get them back into contention?
The Giants will still have work to do, not just in the outfield, but also at third base and in the bullpen. To get everything done would likely push their payroll past the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.

That said, Lorenzo Cain would still be a nearly perfect -- and needed -- upgrade in center field, which would probably create some kind of platoon of Denard Span and Hunter Pence in left.

San Francisco could opt for center fielder Jarrod Dyson at a lower price than Cain. Or it might even give Span another crack at playing center.

To do that might free up enough money to lure Todd Frazier to the Bay Area to play third base. You're wondering about the bullpen, aren't you? To sign two or three position-player free agents probably would mean shopping for free-agent relievers in January and February.

Video: Giants monitoring free-agent market for outfielders

Let's say Stanton ends up somewhere else? What do the Giants do?
Don't overthink it. If Stanton is off the market, the Giants will likely zero in on Cain and see if there's a financial fit with Martinez. And then they can figure out third base and the bullpen.

Regardless of what happens with Stanton, San Francisco seems likely to be one of the offseason's busiest teams. As Giants president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said: "We are not going to rebuild. If you use the word 'reset,' I won't argue."

What Sabean also won't argue about is that San Francisco intends to be back in contention in 2018.

Video: Sabean discusses Giants' path to competing again

What's the focus once Stanton lands with a new team?
First, Martinez throws himself a huge party. You know, with noisemakers, swirling lights and popcorn. And then he sorts through his options, which by the way, are all excellent.

The Giants seem intent on trying to get either Stanton or Martinez. If the Cardinals don't get Stanton, they'll go hard after Martinez.

Unlike San Francisco, which has a few holes to fill, St. Louis has a much narrower shopping list -- one power bat and multiple late-inning arms. Unlike past years, when the early focus is on starting pitching, the lack of power bats could mean an active market for offensive players.

Would the Cards pass on offensive help altogether if Stanton and Martinez end up elsewhere and simply go for pitching?

That's possible. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak has said that building a great bullpen is his first priority. While the Cardinals would like more power in their lineup, they might be able to catch the Cubs simply by giving manager Mike Matheny a great bullpen.

So it's the Giants or Cardinals for Martinez?
Not necessarily. Martinez's right-handed swing would look sweet in Fenway Park even though first baseman Eric Hosmer is arguably a better fit there. The Red Sox are less-motivated buyers because they're good enough to go back to the postseason without doing a single thing. But like the Cardinals, they might need another power bat to make a run at a World Series.

Video: J.D. Martinez a top free agent on the market

Where do the pitchers wind up, and are they really connected to Stanton, Martinez, etc.?
Pitchers could be impacted by the hitters. If the Phillies -- who have no long-term salary commitments beyond Odubel Herrera's deal that runs through 2022 -- slip in and sign one of the sluggers, they might have less money to spend on pitching, which at the moment is their first priority.

Beyond that, the pitching is almost a totally separate free-agent market. The Cubs and free agent Alex Cobb appear to be a nice fit, but the Phils and Yankees are in on him as well.

Yu Darvish is the No. 1 pitcher on the market, but the market for him may not be clear until Shohei Ohtani is signed. The Cubs could have the financial flexibility to sign both Darvish and Cobb.

Video: Castrovince on where Darvish may land this offseason

Aren't the Cubs also shopping for a closer?
With Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Wade Davis and Jon Jay all free agents and off the books, the Cubs have some financial flexibility. Rather than bid for a free-agent closer -- most likely, Davis -- the Cubs will find out if the Rays are going to trade Alex Colome.

The Cubs' farm system has been depleted by the trades for Aroldis Chapman and Davis, but they still have enough high-end pitching prospects to satisfy the Rays for Colome.

Video: Richard Justice discusses the Cubs' offseason needs

Where does that leave Hosmer and Mike Moustakas?
The Royals are hoping neither will need a change of address. Both of them mean so much to the franchise and the city that it will be startling to see them wearing other uniforms. But Hosmer would be a great fit in a lot of places, including Boston, and Moustakas makes sense for the Angels, Braves and assorted other teams.

Are the relievers going to be the last off the market?
Once the run on relievers begins, things could get chaotic. The Astros, Dodgers, Brewers, Rangers, Mets and Twins are all shopping for relief pitching, and that could lead to multiyear deals for more than Davis and Greg Holland, the two high-profile free-agent closers.

Video: Holland earns NL Comeback Player of Year Award

Sounds like there's very little certainty?
That's reflective of this era. By Opening Day, at least 25 teams will see a reasonable path to the postseason. But at least 20 of those teams have significant holes to fill.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Giancarlo Stanton