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Why is a Giancarlo Stanton trade “inevitable?”

Despite the recent clamoring, I just don’t see it.

MLB: All-Star Game
Where he belongs.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

You’ve heard it from all corners at this point: The Marlins might trade Giancarlo Stanton. Rumors have everyone from the St. Louis Cardinals to the New York Yankees checking in. Blog posts tackling any potential trade angle ranging from pragmatic prognosticators to starry-eyed droolers. Everyone on social media has an opinion about it. Keep him. Trade him now. Keep him now, trade him later (nevermind that Stanton has the final say on the subject via his no-trade clause).

Most recently, Ken Rosenthal (who seems particularly fascinated by the Marlins these days) weighed in, suggesting that Jeffrey Loria might somehow dull the pain of his legacy by “freeing” Stanton.

Let’s address that notion for a second; the idea that, by trading Stanton, the Marlins would be allowing the better part of the baseball world to enjoy him more fully. The rest of baseball deserved Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez, too, why should the Marlins selfishly cling to Stanton in the tiny Miami market?

This is not a Seaworld/Shamu scenario we’re talking about here. The Marlins are not holding Stanton against his will. Stanton signed his long-term deal to stick around in Miami for three reasons:

  • They paid him a ridiculous amount of money.
  • He took Loria at his word that he would try and build a young core around him that would eventually produce a winner.
  • He actually ::gasp:: likes it in Miami.

There will always be people in baseball who long for all the great players in the league to be on the Yankees or the Red Sox. Such a shame that Mike Trout is languishing on the Angels. Pity that Nolan Arenado is wasting away in Colorado. Travesty that Giancarlo Stanton is toiling away unnoticed in Miami. If you’re not on a perennial contender, why even exist?

Falsehoods, of course. Stanton does want to win and play for a contender, and I believe the Marlins tried, in their own way, to build something around him. That it failed is only partially on Loria and company. You can’t sum up the 2017 Marlins without noting that fellow superstar Jose Fernandez was a critical component of any envisioned success this season and the years ahead. His death has altered the path of this franchise. We would not be sitting here discussing a team sale if he were still around, let alone the possibility of trading his franchise cornerstone teammate.

The Marlins cobbled together what they could in the wake of Fernàndez’ untimely demise and it hasn’t worked. So, blow it all up, right?

Maybe. Sometimes you can have a bevy of talented pieces and for whatever reason, the wins just don’t come. Take the White Sox for example. At one point, they were running Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle out there, and they couldn’t get the job done.

I think that most people can agree that the Marlins have a core to work with, but that it hasn’t worked to this point. The White Sox saw that their core, as constructed, wasn’t going to work, and they began dismantling accordingly.

Some people might balk at the notion of a tear down because it’s a thing they don’t want to reconcile themselves with. When I was a child, I hated going to the bank, because it was a boring, sterile environment and my mom would have to wait in line for what seemed like an eternity while I desperately tried to keep myself entertained. So my poor mother would try and ply me with candy or tell me she would get me a toy just to avoid the inevitable tantrum from her bratty son.

I can recognize, now, that I was being unreasonable then. My opposition to a tear down at this stage is (I think) a more adult response to the situation at hand. We have seen what this Marlins baseball operations group is capable of (and what they are not capable of). Though I liked the Phelps return, there is a long history of poor trades here and I simply don’t trust the Marlins to get the most out of a Christian Yelich trade or a Justin Bour trade.

Will the market for the Marlins core be diminished in 2018? Unlikely, and now you have a fresh set of eyes on the situation. If a tear down must occur, let it be in the hands of new ownership. Aside from that, I’m still not personally convinced that a tear down is necessary. I’d like to see the new ownership group get at least one crack to assemble a competent starting rotation, if even for simply a shot at being slightly better than .500 and competing for one of those Wild Cards spots. We know what the Marlins have done with those.

Back to Stanton and the inevitability of his departure. I’m not so certain. Stanton himself would be interested to see what the new owners are going to do. If he doesn’t like what he sees, there’s always that 2020 opt-out.

There is a presumption that the Marlins present financial situation, hindered by Stanton’s contract, will make it impossible to field a contender. Well, things change. Ownership, for example. TV contracts (the present one will expire in 2020), for another. Being able to build a consistent winner and putting the genuine distrust of the franchise in the past where it belongs will be the key to revenues rising in the immediate future.

Of course we can recognize that having Stanton’s money off the books would be a tremendous financial windfall for the new ownership to play with. The problem is that in any deal the Marlins are going to have to eat a significant amount of that money, to possibly the point where one wonders what the benefit of trading the man is anymore. They might even have to take on a bad contract or two in return.

Lost in all the trade talk is that Loria has almost no incentive to trade Stanton. The return will be negligible, he’ll be eating a ton of salary, and it’ll be another stain on his legacy within the Miami community when he’s literally just about to step out the door. What does it matter to him, now, how much money the Marlins have to play with? He has three potential ownership groups lined up both eager and willing to take on the “problem” of Giancarlo Stanton’s deal.

You have a prodigious talent who signed in Miami long-term, who lives in downtown Miami and presumably still likes playing in Miami. A man who’s best years are likely ahead of him, someone who could help the Marlins win under the right set of circumstances. Why are we trying to get rid of him again?