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Giancarlo Stanton might keep us waiting until next December, and good for him

Giancarlo Stanton has earned his no-trade clause, and now he’s using it.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images

The offers are in. The teams have agreed on the prospective trades. The Marlins are happy with what they’re getting, and they’re more than happy with what they’re giving up. This is how trades usually work. The Marlins would love to trade Giancarlo Stanton to the Giants or Cardinals or, heck, the Washington Generals, they don’t care. They’re ready to deal and so are their trade partners.

Stanton is screwing it all up. And good for him.

It’s frustrating for the fans, who just want a little hot stove action. We’ve spent days pretending to have Doug Fister opinions. I’ve thought about Miles Mikolas for several minutes now. But all of the major free agents are on hold for various reasons, not the least of which is Stanton taking his sweet time to come to a decision.

It’s frustrating for the teams, who would love to get on with their respective offseasons. The Marlins would like to know if they need to shave payroll through other moves, and if they should entertain Adam Eaton-like packages for Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals would like some closure so they can find their power upgrade elsewhere. The Giants would like to know if they have to pay bloggers and influencers to start calling Jay Bruce “Robot Donkey” so they can sell hats when he signs.

It’s probably frustrating for Stanton, too. He didn’t ask for the Marlins to be run by a constant stream of confused rich people who get hives when they realize how expensive good baseball players can be. He didn’t ask for Wayne Huzienga to tinkle on one of the greatest opportunities an expansion franchise has ever had, which was a decision that’s affected attendance ever since. Because Huzienga didn’t understand the value of winning a World Series in a major market, the Marlins feel like they have to trade Stanton. That’s not the slugger’s fault.

It’s not fun. But this is what a no-trade clause is. This is why players and their agents fight for them. This is complete control in an industry that can literally force a player to move from Milwaukee to New York or vice versa, with his only alternative being to quit and start a new job.

SUPERVISOR: Carl, can you get your jacket? You work in the St. Louis office now.

CARL: But I just bought a home here.

SUPERVISOR: Listen, if you want to work for another edible arrangement company, update your LinkedIn and start emailing. Otherwise, have fun in the Windy City.

CARL: But that’s not the nickn

SUPERVISOR: Let’s go, you’re wasting everybody’s time.

The default argument from people incapable of empathy is that these players are paid millions of dollars, and that really is a fantastic salve. That doesn’t mean they’re not human and don’t have desires, hopes, wishes, and needs that extend beyond their paycheck, though. Stanton will get another decade or so in the profession he’s devoted his entire life to. It’s okay for him to make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

So here’s what might make him comfortable and enjoyable: playing for his hometown team, the one he grew up rooting for. He could drive home after 81 games instead of the three he currently gets with the Marlins. He could have a constant stream of family and friends there to cheer him on. He could eat at his favorite restaurants and wear the same uniform he dreamed of wearing when he was 7 years old.

There’s just one catch: The Dodgers would like to reset their penalties for the competitive balance tax, and they have the perfect opportunity this year. They have dead money and contracts coming off the books, and their roster is almost entirely filled with the players they want. It’s not that they couldn’t fit Stanton into the lineup or on the payroll; it’s that they don’t need to, and the timing isn’t the best.

Next year, though? Next year could work. But it’s possible that the Marlins will spend the next year tearing down all of the non-Stanton salary they have and figure that if they’re spending $50 million on payroll, at least $30 million of it will go to a bona fide gate attraction. There are risks to waiting for the Dodgers. The ultimate risk is that everything falls apart, and Stanton has to spend up to 10 years with a franchise that doesn’t want to pay him and refuses to build a winning team around him.

That’s a risk. The upside with that worst-case scenario is that Stanton’s routine isn’t disrupted much, and he gets to stay in a city that he likes enough to have signed the contract in the first place.

The reward for waiting might be that he gets his wish, that he holds out for the Dodgers. I know people keep saying he’ll accept a trade to the Giants because they’re in California, but there are more miles separating San Francisco and Los Angeles than there are separating New York from Richmond, Virginia. It’s not the same thing. If his heart is set on home, that home most certainly isn’t in San Francisco.

This is the choice, the power, that Stanton asked for when he received the first no-trade clause in team history. When it came time to sign him to a long-term deal, the Marlins had to pay a weirdness tax. There were no hometown discounts, no friendly provisions to help the team save money. The Marlins had a history of being erratic when it came to keeping their high-priced players, and Stanton wanted to make sure it was his decision when he would be jettisoned, not Jeffrey Loria’s, Derek Jeter’s, or Rosco P. Selig’s in 2024.

Stanton got that power. And now it’s his right to wield it in the way that makes him most satisfied. His choices for where he wants to play for the next decade might go like this:

  1. Dodgers
  2. Marlins
  3. Maybe the Angels?
  4. Buzz off

He deserves that list if that’s what he wants.

However, we don’t know if Stanton is really holding out for the Dodgers. If he were dead set against going to the Giants or Cardinals, he wouldn’t have met with both teams. He might have — probably would have — said, “Thanks, but no thanks” if both teams are definitively out of the running. He’s taking time to think this over. He should take as much time as he needs. It’s only one of the most important decisions he’ll ever make, and all it will affect is the rest of his career, legacy, and life.

We might be here until next December, and that’s horrible. But it’s also good. Very, very good, and it’s a reminder that what’s best for all of us impatient baseball fanatics isn’t always best for the individual players.