Should Marlins keep or trade Stanton?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Assemble the entire league, complete with representatives from every team. Place them around hundreds of media, and you knew it would eventually happen.
It didn’t very long for reports to surface that Giancarlo Stanton remains unhappy.
The Marlins on Monday were unable to escape it. Not even the expanse of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, with its nearly 2,900 rooms, 220 suites, 15 restaurants and seemingly infinite amounts of secret hiding places could prevent them.
The Stanton saga is real, and it’s something the Marlins must address.
Miami president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest admitted there is a level of concern about how to get the 23-year-old slugger to buy into the new direction the club is headed.
“Yeah, I think you have to have some concern,” Beinfest said early Monday evening. “Is it a grave concern? I know Mike is a professional. He’s a great kid, and he’s going to come to play.” Although Stanton formerly likes to be referred to by his given first name, Giancarlo, many friends and those in the Marlins organization still call him, Mike, his middle name.
The Marlins are hopeful that when it is time to get into a baseball environment, around new teammates, Stanton will be ready to perform. “I understand the disappointment and questions about the direction of the team,” Beinfest said. “Those are understandable. I think we anticipated some of that. I have no doubt that Mike will get through it, be a professional. He’s always behaved in that manner since Day 1.”
From where the Marlins are right now, clearly, it’s a tough sell.
The organization came to the Winter Meetings with zero intention of shopping Stanton. They didn’t even want to entertain thoughts of moving him. But with his situation being a hot-button issue, you knew his name would eventually surface.
Now, the Marlins holds the cards in this case. Stanton has one more season of being under club control before he is eligible for arbitration. And the slugger won’t reach free agency until after the 2016 season. So you’re talking about him playing for something just over $500,000 in ’13.
Before Thanksgiving, Miami manager Mike Redmond reached out to Stanton in a phone conversation.
But no one else from the organization has spoken directly to Stanton. The hope has been to let emotions settle and then make contact.
Perhaps it is time for management to rethink that timeline, and measure for themselves exactly where Stanton’s head is right now.
Obviously, he is a franchise talent. He’s a special talent, and level-headed person. His immense power cannot be overlooked, or replaced by one player.
If the team can hear for itself that all is well with Stanton, then it can go forward planning on the budding superstar to anchor right field and bat in the middle of the order.
The Marlins don’t have to force the issue, and make a trade.
But if they did sense Stanton’s desires to be elsewhere, then putting his name on the market would immediately become the top talk of the Winter Meetings. It would replace every other story line, and it could alert other team’s who are in pursuit of Josh Hamilton, the top free agent out there.
The timing could be right now to get an incredible offer, because so many teams want to make a huge splash during a time MLB is in the national spotlight.
Literally, all 29 other teams could be in play for Stanton because every club would have four years of control over Stanton.
So even the small market teams could be in the mix.
The asking price would be enormous, like five players, including the top three prospects of every organization.
Stanton would bring back a Jurickson Profar and/or Mike Ott from the Rangers, plus more.
Maybe Texas would back off on Hamilton and look to secure Stanton?
What would the Yankees or Cubs offer? And how about the Mariners and Padres, teams in parks that didn’t attract sluggers? They could be in the bidding.
The Rookies have a deep farm system, and Stanton has shown what he can do at Colorado.
If Stanton stays with the Marlins, already the organization faces the tough task of protecting him in the lineup. Chances are he won’t get pitched to very often, at least if the game is on the line.
And what about the Marlins signing the 23-year-old long term? Obviously, the climate is not right after the club has already traded away all three of their high-profile free agents from a year ago — Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.
And the Marlins are not budging on their no-trade clause policy. They don’t offer them, which also will discourage players from signing long term.
And there is the issue of Marlins Park, which has been a concern among hitters well before all of Miami’s offseason moves.
Simply, the park plays very big and the ball doesn’t carry well. Many players, on the Marlins and other teams, grumbled that the building would hurt Miami’s chances of signing power hitters.
Another thing to be considered is, what if the Marlins get off to a slow start?
With such a young roster, it is certainly possible. If so, then more rumors and trade speculation will surface around Stanton. How will that make the slugger feel, constantly wondering if he is staying or going?
The Marlins clearly are in a tough spot.
For now, the organization should try to get a real indication, from Stanton himself, before deciding whether to keep or trade one of the most gifted young players in the game.
— Joe Frisaro