When former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter became part of the ownership group that purchased the Miami Marlins earlier this year, you expected changes to be coming to South Florida. Jeter is now the Marlins CEO as well as having a 20% ownership stake in the franchise. Jeter won five World Series Championships with the Yankees as he was the greatest winner of his era in baseball. And as Jeter is seeking to change the culture for the Marlins and mold them into the Yankees of the South, he is evaluating each and every player on the roster that he inherited.
One thing that the Marlins can hang their hats on is that they have one of the game’s best power hitters on their roster in outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. For eight years Stanton has morphed into the best power hitter that the Marlins have had in their 25 years as a Major League Baseball franchise. Stanton has 267 career home runs which was paced by his record setting 2017 campaign.
This past season Stanton led Major League Baseball in home runs with 59 and in the process he became the first player in Marlins franchise history to be named as the National League’s MVP. On the surface Stanton appears to be the quintessential player for the Marlins to build their team around. At 6’5″, 245 lbs., Stanton is an imposing figure as a power hitter, and when he is hot at the plate, there is nobody like him in baseball. But those attributes have not guaranteed Stanton a spot on the Marlins roster for 2018.
In 2014, Stanton signed a lucrative 13-year, $325 million extension from the Marlins. Stanton’s extension was the largest in North American sports history and it was also back loaded. In each of Stanton’s first two years of his deal, he only received $6.5 million, while this past season he earned $14.5 million. But things will change at the start of next season as he is set to earn at least $25 million in base salary per season for the remainder of the contract. Stanton also has an opt-out clause in his deal following the 2020 Major League Baseball season when he’ll be 30-years of age. And as Stanton will still be in the prime of his career, it would be prudent for him to opt-out in order to secure another big pay day. Stanton’s production as well as his hefty salary have made Jeter think twice in regards to trading him which has made things rather interesting this off-season in Miami.
If the Marlins were to trade Stanton, it would free up salary, while also putting some prospects into their system, but be careful what you ask for. In order to trade Stanton, it means that the Marlins would need a big market team to deal with. The Yankees don’t need the services of Stanton as they have their own slugger who plays right field that is chiseled out of granite in Aaron Judge who last week was named as the American League’s Rookie of the Year. And if the Marlins are completely intent on trading Stanton, he has already let it be known that he won’t accept a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals or Boston Red Sox which changes things as far as him being traded to a big market team.
But there is always the possibility of the Los Angeles Dodgers being a landing spot for Stanton. For the past few years the Dodgers have not paid attention to Major League Baseball’s luxury tax as their team payroll is consistently north of $200 million. However the Dodgers already have a right fielder in the form of Yasiel Puig. Puig is coming off of his best season as he batted .263 to go along with 28 home runs and 74 runs batted in. Unfortunately for Puig he has been an enigma during his time with the Dodgers as he has been known to lose focus at times which has led to him being suspended as well as getting into confrontations with his teammates. Puig is set to enter the final year of his contract, and the Dodgers could be looking to move on from him, while also getting a bigger power bat in their lineup.
The Dodgers were able to win 104 games this past season, while also winning the National League Pennant for the first time since 1988. However in the World Series, the Dodgers would lose to the Houston Astros in the seven games. The Dodgers hit 10 home runs during the World Series compared to 15 by the Astros. And unfortunately for the Dodgers , many of their homers during the series were of the solo variety which don’t do that much damage as they are missing that feared power hitter like Stanton in the middle of their lineup.
Acquiring Stanton would be a match made in heaven for the Dodgers. Stanton grew up in the Los Angeles area as he was born in Panorama City. Stanton is a star and his arrival in Los Angeles would be welcomed with open arms.
The Los Angeles Angels just re-signed outfielder Justin Upton, while the New York Mets have a litany of injury issues that they must address before they can think about adding any pieces. The Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Philadelphia Phillies are in full rebuilding mode, while the Chicago Cubs and Astros who have won the last two World Series Titles will each soon have to focus on re-signing their young stars. And this leaves the San Francisco Giants along with the Seattle Mariners as the only other big market clubs that could be in line to potentially acquire Stanton.
The Giants were only able to win 64 games this past season as they were tied with the Detroit Tigers for the worst record in Major League Baseball. But the Giants have displayed a winning pedigree as they have been able to win three World Series Championships this decade. The Giants have lacked a consistent power hitter since the days of Barry Bonds. But are the Giants ready to contend again?
The Giants were 14th in the National League in batting last season (.249), on-base percentage (.309), and runs scored (639), while they were dead last in home runs with just 128. The Giants pitching staff didn’t help things either as their team earned run average of 4.50 was eighth in the N.L. Acquiring Stanton would be one piece for the Giants, but it would not be enough to instantly make them contenders once again.
As far as things go for the Mariners, they have the longest current playoff drought in Major League Baseball. You have to go back to 2001 to find the last time in which the Mariners were postseason bound. The Mariners have come close to getting back to the playoffs on several occasions, but they’ve always found a way to come up short. The Mariners have talent in the middle of their lineup with designated hitter Nelson Cruz and second baseman Robinson Cano, But as Cruz is 37-years of age, while Cano is 35, Seattle needs a younger player that can carry this team and ultimately get them to the playoffs.
It’s not a guarantee that the Marlins will trade Stanton as Jeter is only going to make a deal which is in the best interest of his club. And with the Yankees and Red Sox not expected to be involved in attempting to acquire Stanton, that bidding war won’t be as substantial. Stanton is still owed $310 million on his deal which means this if his new potential team were to take on the bulk of his salary, they would not be parting with that many prospects. And the cherry on top is that Stanton also has the ability to opt out of his current deal following the conclusion of the 2020 Major League Baseball season which is something else that teams must also account for.
This situation is far from resolved, but if Stanton is not traded by the start of spring training, expect him to spend the entirety of the upcoming Major League Baseball season in a Marlins uniform. And even if Jeter does not deal Stanton, it won’t effect the sluggers play as he understands the business side of things.