The Miami Marlins have been embroiled in a fair amount of rumors regarding Giancarlo Stanton and his availability in trades. Many teams have supposedly called in to see whether they could pry Stanton out of the Marlins' fingers for a package of prospects. However, it seems the Marlins are not even considering trading Stanton within the organization, and one look at the team's past shows just why Stanton is, at this point, not tradable.
The Cabrera History Lesson
The Marlins ran into a similar situation years ago with their eventual trade of superstar third baseman Miguel Cabrera. At the time, Cabrera had established himself with three straight All-Star seasons from 2005 to 2007. It appeared that he was ready to broach the MVP discussion as well with his performance at the plate, as up that point Cabrera was a career .313/.388/.542 hitter.
Cabrera was also entering his second arbitration season, as the Marlins were able to squeeze out four and a half years of control before being "forced" to trade him as he closed in on free agency and reached a level too expensive for the Marlins to afford. With the team unable to secure a long-term deal with Cabrera and knowing full well that he would leave during free agency, the Marlins went out to try and find the best offer they could get for him. The Fish eventually settled on a deal that involved packaging the suddenly declining Dontrelle Willis and acquiring two premium prospect pieces, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, along with a slew of other decent names.
Marlins fans of course are well-read on what eventually happened with the Cabrera trade and the players whom the team received. Maybin struggled in multiple short stints in the majors and the Marlins never gave him enough of a leash to develop; he was eventually traded for two relief pitchers a year before he reached arbitration. Andrew Miller famously flopped following a not-so-pretty 2007 debut with the Tigers, and eventually he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, where he eventually quietly reinvented himself as a bullpen pitcher.
But while Marlins fans are quick to point out just how bad the return turned out to be, they easily forget how good the return was at the time of the trade. At the time of the trade, the Fish acquired Maybin, who was ranked as the sixth-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America in 2008. They also got Miller, whose stock had fallen slightly but who was, in the previous year, ranked 10th among all prospects. Given Miller's struggles in 2007, it is likely he dropped in value similar to how current Marlins starter Jacob Turner dropped in value prior to the 2012 season.
The Marlins received at worst a top-10 hitter and top-20 or 30 pitcher in baseball along with a slew of prospects for Cabrera and Willis. That was quite a return package.
The Stanton Corrolary (Again)
What does this have to do with Stanton's situation now? Well, a slew of trade offers the Marlins are currently fielding involve teams that are looking to offer premium prospects for Stanton's services. Unfortunately, most clubs seem to be willing to trade the equivalent of the same package the Fish received for Cabrera all of those years ago.
Many of the fan-proposed packages from the few teams that have the prospects to pique the Marlins' interest fail to include the two best prospects on any team. I have seen trades from Seattle Mariners fans that include Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen but skip past Mike Zunino, the team's top-10 prospect. Many Texas Rangers fans have sent out offers that fail to include both baseball's best prospect, Jurickson Profar, and third base prospect Mike Olt. There has been one offer harped on this site from a Pittsburgh Pirates fan that is centered around Jameson Tallion and a slew of other good players without including Gerrit Cole.
Many of these packages look very similar to the starting point of the old Cabrera pacakge. Each of them begins with either one top-10 caliber prospect or, in the Mariners' case, two potentially top-20 players. The problem is that the remainder of the trade involves names akin to the add-on players the Fish acquired in the Tigers deal, names not unlike the ones the Fish acquired in the Toronto Blue Jays trade as well. While guys like Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino are projected to be major league contributors, the combination of those players does not make up for the Fish not getting two premium prospects for Stanton as of now.
The problem with offering a similar package to what the Marlins received for Cabrera is that Stanton still has one pre-arbitration season remaining and his three arbitration years. This means that the Fish are trading him a full two seasons before they traded Cabrera, yielding the receiving team more time with a premium asset at a dirt-cheap price. Why would the Marlins settle for a similar package as the one the team got from Detroit all those years ago when Stanton, at this point, is a more valuable player than Cabrera was back then?
Unless the correct is willing to throw a gaggle of top prospects, including their most elite players, at the Marlins' way, do not expect Giancarlo Stanton to be in another uniform in 2013 or even 2014. At this rate, the team's best bet is to wait out a few years, see if he cannot be convinced to remain in the face of a surprising 2014 performance, and trade him then for likely similar offers.