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The top prospects that the Marlins could get for Stanton

If the slugging superstar has to go, then Miami will have to acquire a future star (or two) in return in order to accelerate the rebuild, and keep the fans happy.

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The very first day of the GM meetings in Orlando did not end with Giancarlo Stanton jetting off to another city for an introductory press conference, but there were plenty of rumblings suggesting that scenario may occur in the not-too-distant future.

The situation is pretty clear for the Marlins: they cannot afford to have the payroll as high as it is (in the region of $140 million next season for the current roster) while they are operating at a loss, like they have been for the past few seasons. With that comes the painful task of having to move the face of the franchise and his $25 million salary.

The Cardinals, Red Sox, and Phillies all reportedly have serious interest in the 28 year-old, and regardless of whether or not the Marlins offer to kick-in some cash to cover Stanton's enormous salary in any potential deal, they will be searching for at least one elite prospect in return for arguably the most dominant hitter in franchise history.

What the Marlins need in order to break their postseason drought is quality starting pitching, as a lack thereof in 2017 was the main reason why a record-setting team, offensively, was playing golf the day after game 162 was played instead of gearing up for the playoffs. With that in mind, below is a brief look at the top pitching prospect from each of the aforementioned interested teams that may well end up in Miami's rotation at some point in the near future.

Alex Reyes, Cardinals

St. Louis’ top prospect and the the number 14 prospect in all of baseball ( mid-season rankings), Alex Reyes could well have been an established major league starter already if it was not for a slight UCL tear which required Tommy John surgery in February. Over 46 MLB innings (five starts) in 2016, Reyes went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA while striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings.

He possesses a three-figure fastball at times, and throws it alongside a strong curveball and solid changeup which both result in a lot of empty swings. Reyes would be ready to start for Miami as soon as he is healthy and, once he cuts down on the number of walks he allows, he could quickly become the team's ace.

It is also worth noting right-hander Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ number three prospect (and number 47 in all of baseball). Another young pitcher who has been given a taste of the big leagues, Flaherty does not appear to have as high of a ceiling as Reyes right now, but he could be more of a safe bet due to not having undergone Tommy John surgery thus far in his career.

Jay Groome, Red Sox

Although a trade with Boston could involve a package centered around 2017 preseason number one prospect Andrew Benintendi as a direct replacement for Stanton in Miami's outfield, Jay Groome is an intriguing name, and he is currently the jewel of the Red Sox farm system. The number 42 prospect in baseball (and number four lefty) throws his fastball in the upper 90s, but it is his curveball which catches the attention of scouts. His newly-developed changeup has potential, but still needs work before it becomes a solid third pitch. At 19 years old, Groome needs some time to develop, but with a six-foot-six frame to build upon, and experts already comparing him to Roger Clemens, he could definitely be worth the wait.

Sixto Sanchez, Phillies

Sixto Sanchez (Phillies number two prospect, 46 in all of baseball) came out of nowhere to dominate the Gulf Coast league in 2016, and he enjoyed similar success this past season (3.03 ERA over 95 Single-A innings). Like the other two big name prospects in this article, Sanchez has a big-time fastball which he can ramp up to 98mph with tantalizing command. He has a smooth delivery, and his secondary, off-speed pitches show real promise. Like Groome, Sanchez would not make an immediate impact in Miami, but solid production from the middle of the rotation could well be possible by 2019.