FOX Sports's resident rumor-mongerer Ken Rosenthal wrote a succinct, opinionated piece on a topic of endless interest over the last two years: the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors. His crux was the same one that once came out with regards to the last Marlins star, Hanley Ramirez: trade Stanton now.
Now, Rosenthal's tone is that of indignation, which never comes off well. But his point remains fairly valid. We here at Fish Stripes also feel that Stanton will not be here for long, as it is extremely unlikely that the Marlins make the multi-year, expensive free agent commitment to Stanton that he desires. At this stage, Miami would have to sign Stanton to almost a free agent contract, entailing something along the lines of eight years and $176 million, including six free agent years paid off at $22 million a season. It just seems highly unlikely that Miami would actually make that contract offer given that they have never signed a player for that much money.
The Fish also would need to convince Stanton that they are on their way to winning. But aside from keeping the core of a middling team together and hoping Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez, and Marcell Ozuna take the necessary steps forward to advance the club's contention time period, the Marlins have very little they can do to promise a winning club. Aside from Andrew Heaney, the team's prospect cupboard is relatively bare, filled primarily with back-end starting pitchers. The franchise would have a difficult time turning those players into long-term veteran contributors via the trade market as well. The core for the foreseeable future around Stanton is Fernandez, Yelich, Ozuna, Heaney, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Henderson Alvarez, and Nathan Eovaldi, at least until Stanton becomes a free agent. It is difficult to tell if that is a winning team next season, especially with Fernandez's questionable time table to return from Tommy John surgery.
One argument for keeping Stanton around is to give teams a full season of seeing Stanton at his best. After the 2013 season showed chinks in his armor in terms of health and even questions of his power output, there were a lot of questions about his trade value this past offseason. But Stanton has seemingly erased all of those questions with this past half-season of dominance. He has looked a lot more like the Stanton of 2012, who appeared ready to destroy worlds even as the Marlins crumbled around him. Rosenthal agrees that teams would line up to offer the moon for Stanton now.
The Cardinals would forget they ever heard of David Price. The Red Sox would move heaven, earth and Xander Bogaerts. The Dodgers would stop worrying about having too many outfielders and simply ship the ones they don't want out to sea.
So, pick a club, any club. Put him on the Yankees (don't ask me how they could satisfy the Marlins' desire for young talent). The Mariners with Robinson Cano (and, ahem, King Felix). The Pirates with Andrew McCutchen (for Stanton, you give up Gregory Polanco and more).
But the Fish remain adamant about not trading Stanton, and there should be no pressure to do so. Half a season of continued success will likely help Stanton's stock just as much as it would decrease with the half-season off of his team control. Teams are still paying a bounty for his two years of service and the opportunity to sign him to a long-term deal before anyone else. If Stanton remains healthy, the Marlins will still have the same trade offers available to them, and they would have at least one more fleeting run at the start of the offseason to try and convince Stanton to re-sign.
With all the pressure from various sides and Stanton openly entertaining the possibility of playing for other teams, the Fish have to make a decision soon. This offseason is the final frontier for the Stanton decision; Miami will not have any more time to come up with the answer to this question. If the team fails to sign him, it absolutely has to make a trade, because otherwise it risks Stanton losing trade value over his last two seasons while still being unlikely to re-sign with the Fish. Miami would be banking on its young players fueling a contender within a season or two with Stanton around, and even with that, Stanton may still not stick around if Miami doesn't offer the right money or situation.
The stakes are high. Ken Rosenthal may not be right to say that the pressure to do this move is on the Fish now, but it will be soon. Miami has to make a decision and act upon it, and fast.