The hot stove season in Major League Baseball is heating up, and with the winter meetings a week away, Giancarlo Stanton might soon be an ex-member of the Miami Marlins.
At the very least the ball is in Stanton’s court, it seems.
Stanton, who won National League MVP honors in 2017 after hitting a career-best 59 home runs, has been heavily pursued by both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams met with Stanton last week, with the slugger having final say because of the no-trade clause built into his contract. Per Jon Morosi of MLB.com:
Multiple sources said the Marlins have agreed upon the general framework of a Stanton trade with both San Francisco and St. Louis. Of course, those deals are on hold while Stanton considers whether he'd accept a deal to either team.
As of Sunday afternoon, one source said Stanton had not informed Miami of a decision.
Between the Giants and Cardinals, Stanton might prefer San Francisco, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. But there might be another option for the power hitter.
Stanton went to Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., just 14 miles from Dodger Stadium, which makes the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly high on his list.
“The Dodgers are his first choice,” a source told Heyman.
Buster Olney of ESPN added, “Friends of Stanton say that in his perfect world, he'd get to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”
But the Dodgers, who paid $113.5 million in competitive balance tax penalties from 2013-16 and are estimated to pay more than $30 million this season, might be hesitant to commit to Stanton, who has $295 million and 10 years remaining on his contract.
to make it work with stanton, the dodgers would have to get "creative" to ease the tax long-term burden. players can't accept a lowered deal to facilitate a trade. but hypothetically, dodgers could add player & team opt outs w/o lowering total potential $.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2017
The Dodgers were still in contact with the Marlins as of Sunday, per Morosi, though the talks haven’t progressed as far as those with the Giants or Cardinals.
The Dodgers’ best bet might be waiting for Stanton to force the Marlins’ hand, if Los Angeles is in fact his preferred destination, and to take advantage of Miami’s desperation to unload as much of that contract as possible.
After all, the Marlins new ownership group, despite paying $1.2 billion to purchase the team, is eager to shed salary. For instance, Miami isn’t even considered in the running for lottery ticket and severely undervalued free agent Shohei Ohtani, who was posted on Friday and will sign with an MLB team by Dec. 22. Per Tim Healey of the Miami Sun-Sentinel:
The bulk of the expense for the club that signs Ohtani is the posting fee. The winning team will need to pay Ohtani’s Japanese team $20 million, which could be spread out over the course of up to 18 months.
That, according to multiple sources, is where the cash-strapped Marlins run into problems. They are looking to cut payroll significantly under CEO Derek Jeter, and the team is losing a reported $50 million this year.
It seems clear that the Marlins are motivated to move Stanton at some point. Now it’s just a matter of where he wants to play.