The Miami Marlins continued their previous fire sale ways of 1998 and 2006 with the blockbuster trade between them and the Toronto Blue Jays that saw the Fish deal Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Jays for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, and a bevy of prospects. We have already covered the initial response along with a trade value analysis of the deal, but beyond the simple numbers of the deal and the fact that the Marlins have foregone contention for the next two seasons, there are externalities of the deal that need to be considered that may also hurt the Marlins' chances of continuing to contend over the long term.
Perhaps the most important and concerning thing about this trade is the effect it likely has on the Marlins' lone remaining star, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton did not waste time making it known how he felt about the deal. He responded very quickly via Twitter.
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
Not only did Stanton express anger about the actions of the team and its front office, but he seemed mad enough with the team that he switched his picture from one including a Marlins jersey to one that has him in just a plain black shirt. All of these actions indicate a tension between Stanton and the organization that seemingly abandoned him while at the same time desiring to build around him. The Marlins clearly felt that the team was not going to compete with Stanton and the assembled core as it was, but for Stanton, these players were not just assets who would help him and his team win, but also friends and teammates with whom he enjoyed playing. The team sent away a few of the most important and talented major league teammates Stanton has had in his short career thus far.
You may deny that the Marlins will be hurt in their pursuit of other players in trades or free agents as a result of this series of trades, but after the initial response by Stanton, it seems impossible to deny that the chances of holding onto Giancarlo Stanton have been drastically diminished thanks to this trade. Recall that in my offseason plan before the massive trade, signing Stanton to an extension was the top priority of this offseason. With a core of players including Jose Reyes and the prospects the team already had, there was a possibility Stanton would be convinced to stay along for the long haul on a typical team-friendly extension, especially if the Marlins remained a respectable, if mediocre team in 2013. Now the organization has essentially punted two or more seasons in favor of potentially regaining its direction with a fresh prospect core in 2016 or beyond.
That may be fine and dandy for the Marlins and their long-term plans, but meanwhile, the team has left Stanton in the wake of the most complete fire sale this organization may have ever perpetrated. Unlike in 2006, the Marlins do not have a set of prospects from earlier drafts who should be ready to step in this season. Unlike in 1998, the Fish did not acquire players who will enter the field immediately, nor did they leave much in the way of serviceable backups who could fill in as terrible scrub starters. Outside of Logan Morrison, Stanton has no one left on the roster with whom to compete.
The Marlins essentially punted at least two years and possibly more in order to gain potential for those future seasons. Stanton is now being asked to be the only worthwhile player on a roster filled primarily with scrubs. This is the worst time to ask him if he would like to commit to the Marlins past 2016. The Marlins just showed a complete lack of loyalty to the players to whom they have "committed," and they also displayed either a ready willingness to renege on long-term plans or a complete lack of such plans. What player in their right mind would sign up to commit to this organization and sacrifice salary for security and stability, half of which will not even be present if he does sign? What player would look upon the Marlins' situation and see a consistently grounded approach to building a contending team?
The other teams who has signed long-term deals to their young, promising talent have been able to do so because they laid out a careful, thought-out plan for how to build around the talent. They rightfully chose the players who are long-term keepers and the ones who are supporting players whom the team can replace. Even organizations long deemed dysfunctional like the Pittsburgh Pirates have wisened up, slowly built up assets and major league parts, and finally convinced their franchise piece to commit to the team. Given how quickly and easily the Marlins blew up their latest plan, which was supposed to last through 2014, how can Stanton say the same about the Fish?
Giancarlo Stanton has every right to be angry about the situation on the Marlins. As fans, we want to see the team succeed in the short- and long-term, but this deal promises a lot of early suffering for a better chance at future success. But for a player like Stanton, his concern lies with getting the most out of his best years. He is just entering what should be a series of excellent, prime seasons of production, but he is now tied to an organization who cannot afford him a chance to compete for another two years.
Even if the return from this trade pans out even better than expected and the Marlins can start debuting top prospects beginning in 2014 or 2015, the club will have lost valuable time in attempting to extend Stanton. It is likely that, if Stanton reaches his first year of arbitration, he will be far less likely to go long-term with free agency just a few seasons away. He may be far more willing to sign for his arbitration seasons without giving away free agent years. If we reach the second or third arbitration years without an extension, Stanton will essentially get to ask for full free agent money for those seasons unless a significant injury or other risk factors hinder his value. In the two upcoming seasons in which the Marlins are almost guaranteed to struggle, the Fish will look like a directionless ball club, and a player of Stanton's caliber would never commit to an organization like that.
The Marlins may have gotten the long-term victory of this trade by avoiding the salaries of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, but one likely immediate loss is the team's chance at signing an extension for Stanton. It is far more likely go year to year with Stanton as a result of this move, and the last superstar the Fish went year to year with Miguel Cabrera, who was later traded away as well before 2008 following a similar 2006 purge. The eerie similarities are evident here, and Marlins fans cannot feel positive about this major aspect of the trade.