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Why the Miami Marlins Cannot Trade Giancarlo Stanton

The Miami Marlins have apparently fielded offers for star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the wake of their massive mega-trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. But the Marlins will find Stanton essentially untradable at this point.

No matter how valuable Giancarlo Stanton may be to the Miami Marlins in a trade, he may be stuck in a Marlins uniform for a few more years.
No matter how valuable Giancarlo Stanton may be to the Miami Marlins in a trade, he may be stuck in a Marlins uniform for a few more years.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe brought up in a recent article that the Miami Marlins have fielded offers for star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from other teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees among others. The Marlins, of course, have previously made Stanton essentially untouchable in trade offers this season, but that probably did not deter any team from at least inquiring about one of the best young players in baseball and asking whether he could had for the right price.

It would be a coup for whichever of the 25 teams (I’m exaggerating) that would or have bid for him to actually acquire him. But commissioner Bud Selig is watching the Marlins closely after the salary dump in the Blue Jays deal. While Selig did not step in to change or block that trade, he may not look too fondly upon a deal for the Marlins’ biggest draw. Teams would have to give their very best to the Marlins for baseball’s best young slugger.

Undoubtedly any team that looks to acquire Stanton from the Marlins would have to pay a huge sum, leading to a windfall of players coming back to Miami to replace the best purely homegrown talent the club has had since Josh Beckett. The sort of package the Marlins would expect to get in return would be enormous, and the arduous task of rebuilding the team's farm system would be easily completed in one fell swoop.

The problem and the reason why the Marlins cannot trade Giancarlo Stanton is exactly the above benefit as well; no team could offer the sort of return required to match Stanton's value to the Marlins.

Stanton's Trade Value

The trade value for an asset like Giancarlo Stanton, who is an established superstar with four years of team control remaining, is through the roof. Even if he ends up making an extremely large sum during arbitration, no amount of money will amount to the value the Marlins are getting from him. If he remains a six-win player for the next three seasons (he was a six-win player in 2012 while missing a quarter of the season), he would be worth $131.4 million in free agent market value. However, the Marlins would only pay him at most $38 million, and that is based on an estimate putting him at the highest levels of arbitration earnings.

With those numbers, the Marlins would receive $93 million in surplus value in a trade for Stanton. Such a package would represent an enormous haul for the Miami Marlins. In 2009, a top-10 hitting prospect was valued at $36.5 million in surplus. A top-10 pitching prospect would be worth $15.2 million. In other words, a deal for Stanton involving prospects would likely have to include two top-10 hitting prospects and a top-10 pitching prospect as the centerpiece of the discussion. As an example from the 2012 Baseball America Top 100 prospects list, such a trade might have to start with a group like Mike Trout, Jurickson Profar, and Trevor Bauer, for example. No matter the state of your farm system or roster, a haul like that would be a major boon to an organization, even if it means trading a player like Stanton.

An Impossible Package

But the problem is that there is no team that could offer such a package, because no team has the resources to afford such a trade. Looking at this past preseason's Baseball America list, only three teams (the Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles) had two prospects in the top 15 players listed. No team had three prospects in the top 20 players, though the Seattle Mariners had three within the top 31 players. But no one had the requisite-ranked players to offer in a hypothetical trade with the Marlins that could stand up to the immense surplus value that Giancarlo Stanton could provide the team.

Of course, teams could combine their prospects with current, cost-controlled talent, but this would be counter-intuitive to those clubs looking to contend with the addition of Stanton. Throwing in a promising cost-controlled player like an Austin Jackson or an Ian Desmond would defeat the purpose of acquiring a top-notch player like Stanton to add to your excellent core. Teams may be willing to offer more average, cost-controlled types like Paul Goldschmidt or Kyle Seager, but those are still offers of present wins that would be less beneficial to the acquiring team.

Overall, a package like the one Stanton would require would be so immense that it renders him essentially untradable. It is not that the Marlins have a valueless asset, but rather that their asset is too valuable. Much like if the Angels were to try and trade Mike Trout, no package could be offered to make a deal seem reasonable for the Marlins. Right now, Stanton has too many years of control left and too much present production for any one ball club to acquire him without giving up half of their team.

Fortunately, that means the Marlins are clearly going to hold onto him in 2013. The problem, as many Marlins fans already fear, is that Stanton may be in the same boat that Miguel Cabrera once sailed. In two years' time, Stanton and the Marlins may find themselves in another difficult trade spot.