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I’ll be upfront from the start: This is mainly a fantasy. But, hey, fantasies can be fun. And this one has just enough hint of legitimate possibility to be a valid exercise.
All winter long, I’ve heard from people wondering if Giancarlo Stanton is a possible target for the Mariners. The Marlins, after all, showed with their shocking trade of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle that they were once again in extreme firesale mode, no longer concerned with trying to win in 2013. But I kept telling people what the Marlins were telling people publicly and privately: Stanton’s not going anywhere. He’s too good, and (especially) too cheap; with just two-years-plus service time, Stanton is not even eligible for arbitration, meaning the Marlins don’t have to pay him more than the major-league minimum of $490,000. Why would the Marlins want to risk a total fan mutiny (as opposed to the near-total fan mutiny — a subtle but important distinction).
And there it has sat all winter. But suddenly, there are starting to be some rumblings that maybe, just maybe, it would be possible to knock over the Marlins with a trade proposal they couldn’t refuse. Stanton, after all, isn’t going to stay cheap forever. When he hits arbitration after next season, his salary is going to take a gigantic leap. He’s expressed vocal disgust over the Marlins’ actions, so you’ve got an unhappy camper. And once you’ve alienated fans as much as the Marlins have, what’s a little more anger? The fact is, they’re not going to win next year, with or without Stanton, and he offers them what might well be the trade chip of the century. One thing we know is that the Marlins are all about rebuilding. They are connoisseurs of rebuilding.
So there was this the other day on MLB.com’s Marlins’ site — the official team site! — by Joe Frisaro speculating that the Marlins might change their mind on not dealing Stanton. The impetus for the article was the Rangers’ losing out on Josh Hamilton, which could, the author theorized, motivate them to put together a mega-package of prospects from their rich farm system to nab Stanton. Frisaro writes, “Would Miami be tempted to move Stanton if suddenly Jurickson Profar and/or Mike Olt are centerpieces in a deal?”
To which I would say, “Whoa.” If the Marlins are indeed tempted to move Stanton, I’d imagine they wouldn’t limit their options to the Rangers, and the Rangers only. They would be crazy if they didn’t tell every team, OK, give us your best shot. And if that was the case, I think the Mariners could put together a pretty competitive — and extremely painful — offer. Just yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX chimed in that the Mariners need to get creative to land the big bat they needed, and threw out the names Andre Ethier, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez...and, yes, Stanton.
I really, really like the idea of Gonzalez. But I have off-the-charts love, a full man-crush, over the prospect of the artist formerly known as Mike Stanton playing in Seattle. At the end of last season, my 13-year-old son — obviously preparing for a future career as a blogger — asked me if I thought there was anyone in baseball the Angels would trade, straight up, for Mike Trout. Huh, I thought, interesting question. After pondering for awhile, I said no, but there are probably two guys who at least would make them think about it: Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton. Then he asked for a new xbox, but that’s another story.
At age 23, Stanton hasn’t even scratched the surface of his ability, and he’s already a superstar. I frankly think he’s headed for the Hall of Fame. In his first two seasons, while learning his way around the league, Stanton put up slugging percentages of .507 and .537. Last year, he slugged .608, tops in the major leagues — two points ahead of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. He wouldn’t be just a difference maker for the Mariners, he would be a regime changer. He looks like a guy who could hit 40 homers a year for the next 10 years — and he still has four years of club control before free agency.
As I said, but it needs reiteration, this is a fantasy. Just today, Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted out that the Marlins have no intention of trading Stanton (to which I would add: Yet). But let’s play it out. What would it take for the Mariners to put together the best offer, one that would trump a potential Rangers’ offer headed by Profar (the No.1-ranked prospect in the entire minor leagues in most estimations), or deals that prospect-rich organizations like Pittsburgh or Tampa could put together.
LIke I said, to make the Marlins listen, it has to be painful. It has to start with Kyle Seager, because the Marlins are so desperate for a third baseman, they’re said to be looking at Miguel Tejada. Coming off the year Seager had, and with no obvious replacements on hand, that would hurt. But we’ve only just begun. Then the Mariners would have to pretty much open up their prospects vault and say, take any three you want. To which the Marlins would probably respond, make it four, and we can start talking. We don’t want to trade this guy, so you’re going to have to knock our socks, and shoes, off.
Would I do it? If the Marlins could be talked into letting me hold back one of the Big Three, and not include Mike Zunino (who can’t be traded for a year after signing his pro contract, which happened on July 2 — though there are ways around that by using the “player to be named” gambit), then, well, yeah, I’d swallow hard and say, go for it. We’d be talking, hypothetically, Seager, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Nick Franklin and someone like outfielder Gabriel Guerrero, Vlad’s nephew and a fast-rising young star in the Mariners’ system.
Ouch. But the Mariners would be getting back a once-in-a-generation talent. A superstar who hasn’t even come close to peaking. Yeah, I’d do it.