About a month ago, the Miami Marlins were sold for over $1 billion. The new ownership group features future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. The former shortstop will not only have an ownership stake in the team, but also will function as the CEO of the club.
When looking at the Marlins' roster, Giancarlo Stanton's name pops immediately. He finished the 2017 season with a .281 batting average, 132 RBIs and a league-leading 59 home runs. Conventional wisdom suggests Jeter building the future squad around the 27-year-old.
In this case, conventional wisdom appears to be incorrect.
According to the Miami Herald, Jeter plans on slashing the team's payroll considerably. The current payroll sits at $115 million. Much of the money is currently tied-up with Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon, Edinson Volquez, and Wei Yin Chen.
The report suggests Jeter wanting to cut costs to as low as $55 million for this next season. If this is true, yet another fire sale would fall upon a franchise famous (or infamous) for them. The fan base could be gutted by a potential rebuild -- though it appears as if Jeter is headed in this direction.
Surely, this won't help matters much when it comes to ticket sales. If the Marlins jettison the franchise's biggest star for a boatload of prospects, no one will be overly excited. From a long-term perspective, it could behoove the small-market club. Taking a page from Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Oakland, and other teams in similar positions, Miami looks poised to build from the ground up -- starting with pitching.
With the inevitable situation of the rebuild staring the club directly in the face, Stanton made his opinion on the possibility known:
"I don't want to rebuild. I've lost for seven years."
Stanton is under contract until 2028 -- with an average of $25 million owed per season during this time. He has the option of opting-out in 2020. As it pertains to Stanton and the rest of the league, putting him on the trade block could cause a ripple effect of epic proportions.
One can expect the Yankees to be involved. As is the case virtually always, the Bronx Bombers will be in the mix for any big-name player. With that said, New York has been rather money conscious in recent years. It may want to preserve cash for when the 2018 free agency bonanza year rolls around. Plus, Aaron Judge is cemented in right field. Selfishly, we'd love to see a Judge-Stanton one-two pairing in the heart of the order (though American League teams would argue otherwise).
The San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Philadelphia Phillies all could be suitors. All three franchises are in desperate need of a legitimate run-producer. However, there are potential roadblocks for each club.
Miami in theory will be wanting pitching in a potential package. None of the three clubs have deep stables as it pertains to pitching prospects. In particular, Anaheim and San Francisco have two of the worst farm systems in all of baseball. Philadelphia has a system chock-full of talented position players -- though Stanton's made it clear he does not want to rebuild. The Phillies are quite a ways away from being competitive.
Barring a mystery team coming into the mix, there are only three options should Stanton become available: The St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Red Sox could go full bore into the Stanton sweepstakes -- particularly after a swift exit from this year's playoffs. There's a glaring need for a power hitter after the Pablo Sandoval experiment crashed and burned. Miami would surely want pitching prospect Jason Groome in any deal. Boston has a litany of young, talented players (Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts) from which Miami could choose from.
Knowing the impatience President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski often operates under, it would not be a shock to see Boston pulling the trigger on an attractive package -- particularly if the Yankees make some serious noise in the postseason. Stanton hitting with the Green Monster in left field seems like a match made in Heaven.
After being a fixture in the postseason for the last decade, the Cardinals have fallen into a bit of a lull. It's been two years since St. Louis featured in the playoffs. Injuries have been an issue -- as has timely hitting. Much like the Red Sox, St. Louis has a plethora of solid contact hitters (Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Jedd Gyorko, Dexter Fowler, Paul DeJong). With that said, they lack a true power threat.
The Cardinals possess a bevy of young, talented pitchers -- something Jeter and the Marlins' brass surely would find attractive. Alex Reyes is the big fish (no pun intended) St. Louis may have to part with. They've also got Luke Weaver, Sandy Alcantara, and Jack Flaherty within their system. A package featuring two of the aforementioned quartet -- plus a cheap positional piece (Pham?) could be enticing enough for Miami.
As for Stanton, St. Louis is one of the most respected franchises in the sport. The preexisting culture -- coupled with the ardent fan base -- makes this destination an alluring one.
The other gigantic player in this potential sweepstakes is Los Angeles. Stanton grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks. This aspect alone could be a major positive for the Dodgers. Secondly, Los Angeles (in theory) has the means to absorb this major contract. It does go somewhat against the philosophy of the Andrew Friedman-Stan Kasten-Farhan Zaidi braintrust to be saddled with a gigantic contract -- particularly considering the length of Stanton's deal. Though, it's rare a player of Stanton's ilk would become available.
Lastly, the Dodgers have a ton of prospects to use in a potential deal. The front office shrewdly acquired Yu Darvish without having to part with any of its three-best prospects (Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Yadier Alvarez). All three are top-50 prospects -- with Buehler being the most highly-regarded of the bunch.
Los Angeles could open up Stanton's right field spot by sending Yasiel Puig the other way. He likely would be a fan favorite in Miami with the heavy presence of Cubans and Cuban-Americans. A Corey Seager-Stanton-Cody Bellinger-Justin Turner 2-3-4-5 quartet would be utterly terrifying for any pitching staff.
It will be very fascinating in seeing what the Marlins opt to do with Stanton. It's a gut-punch for the fan base to see its team essentially start from scratch in what would be a long, arduous process.
For a contending team, Stanton's availability could signal the difference between being a playoff team and a World Series favorite.