Stanton seen as building block, not trade chip

SAN FRANCISCO — Trade rumors and Giancarlo Stanton go hand in hand.

So naturally, the closer we get to the All-Star Break, and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the more you will see Stanton’s name pop up in speculation. It’s inevitable.

Rumors are as much a part of the game as the All-Star Game itself.

Of course, they create lively conversation. Bloggers have a field day, as do web sites and talk radio shows.

The fact the Marlins have a history of dealing their big name players naturally fans the flames.

Still, when you peel back the speculation, and you explore the actual facts, you will find that in Stanton’s case, the 23-year-old is not on the market. Taking it a step further, he might not be for quite a while, meaning at least another couple of years.

According to two well connected sources, the Marlins consider Stanton as a building block, not a trade chip.

One source called recent Stanton trade speculation, “laughable and lies.”

Before the season, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria stated publicly that the organization eventually intends to make a substantial, multi-year contract offer to Stanton. It just wasn’t intended to happen during this season.

Indications are Stanton isn’t ready to accept a long-term deal with Miami, and perhaps that will be his stance for months or years to come. If and when that happens, the team will decide which direction they will go. For now, and a while, they Stanton as a fixture on their roster.

Now, obviously, the Marlins are open to trade talks regarding all their players. In Stanton’s case, the pending offer would pretty much have to clean out another club’s farm system, as well as bring back proven big league talent. Even that might not be enough.

Remember, Stanton is still under club control, and he is making $537,000 this season. A bargain. There is no urgency to move him. He will reach arbitration next season, but the slugger isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.

It’s no secret the Marlins are hurting for offense, and they are looking for Stanton to help change that. They rank last in the Majors in runs scored with 221, which is 32 off the pace of the game’s next lowest-scoring team — the Dodgers.

In May, the Marlins saw what life was like without Stanton when he missed the entire month with a right hamstring strain. The Marlins scored 79 runs total in May, the fewest in the league.

With Stanton back in June, they have 69 runs in the month, tied for 18th out of 30 teams.

The Marlins appear to have plenty of outfield prospects on the rise, but there are still questions. Marcell Ozuna already is in the big leagues, and he actually plays right field, defensively, better than Stanton. Ozuna also has power potential. But keep this in mind, Ozuna isn’t Stanton. Rather than substract Stanton, the organization is wanting to see how its offense produces with a lineup that includes Stanton, Ozuna and Logan Morrison in the middle.

Christian Yelich, the top prospect, is currently on the Minor League disabled list with an abdominal strain. Yelich is a terrific hitter but not the power threat of Stanton. Jake Marisnick also is on the rise, but he too is developing at the plate. Marisnick also has had injuries, missing April with a broken left hand. And the other night, he was struck in the same hand by a pitch. So, his health is an issue.

Miami, quite simply, needs as much depth as possible.

In home runs, the Marlins also are last in the Majors with 37, and Stanton has seven of them, despite missing more than a month due to injury.

The Marlins may indeed have the worst record in the game, but they also are showing signs of improvement. They beat the Giants, 2-1, on Thursday and are 9-8 in June.

If you are looking for the most likely Marlin to be moved, it is Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco is in the final year of his contract, and it is expected he will be with a contending club by the end of July.

Joe Frisaro

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