Whether they like it or not (admittedly, there is not much to like in the short-term), most people invested in Miami Marlins baseball have come to terms with the fact that Giancarlo Stanton, the first MVP in franchise history, is being aggressively shopped and will most likely be traded in the next few weeks.
To the casual observer, it appears that the new ownership group is behaving like the last, when they first traded team greats Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers in 2007, and then the entire roster to the Blue Jays in 2012. However, the inevitable move of the game's best slugger is necessary for the long-term success of the team, as the barren farm system and lack of revenues cannot sustain an average, yet expensive major league team.
The aim is to flip Stanton for some of the game's top prospects and unload most, if not all, of the $295 million remaining on the historic contract he signed in 2014. That is the problem though - the contract, and finding a trade partner who is both able and willing to take on the deal, and unload their most promising young players to acquire it. Another obstacle is the opt out clause Stanton has in his pocket for after the 2020 season.
However, if the Marlins are able to strike a favorable deal despite the challenges, that opt out clause may come back to propel the franchise into the stratosphere. Granted, it seems highly unlikely given the rumored longing that Stanton has for playing in Dodger blue, but the superstar outfielder could well opt out of his mammoth contract when he has the choice, and then decide to come back to the place where his career started.
A lot of things would have to go right on Miami's end for this fantasy to turn into reality. First of all, the prospects that the team gets in exchange for their stars this winter will have to pan out, and put the franchise on the edge of contention. Stanton will most likely get a taste of playoff champagne in his new city, so he will not want to come back to square one, especially if he fails to win it all.
Second, the team will have to get their finances in order to even have a chance at securing the services of the most productive hitter in club history again. Stanton will not accept any less than what he is already due to make on his current deal, and that is before the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign their own mega deals.
Miami has one big thing in their favor, though. Despite the years of losing, Stanton has made it clear that he sees Miami as his city, his home, and his brand new and breath-taking penthouse suite will be hard to say goodbye to. There will be a sense of unfinished business for the outfielder too, considering that the teams he has played on have looked good on paper, but were never able to get over the hump.
Call this article overly optimistic, but today is about being thankful, and baseball fans may just feel that way towards a pending Stanton trade if the face of the franchise returns to lead a championship-caliber team in a few years’ time.