The Marlins and the Coming Giancarlo Stanton Reality

The Marlins lost 100 games last year, and there’s no way around it: that’s a terrible season. It’s the low point to date of a slide that started after an 87-75 2009, dropping to 82, 90, and 93 losses before hitting the century mark last year, and that’s embarrassing even if we’re just sticking to the on-the-field miscues, rather than also including the continued tragicomedy that is the ownership of Jeffrey Loria. Were it not for the teardown of the Houston Astros, the Marlins would be the worst team in baseball.

But even then, it was easy to argue that it wasn’t entirely a lost season. The atrocious optics of last winter’s massive deal with Toronto gave way to a quiet appreciation that the move actually made a good amount of baseball sense, and of course they saw Jose Fernandez go from “highly touted prospect” to “Rookie of the Year and arguable Cy Young winner in a world without Clayton Kershaw.” I tried to make the case at ESPN last summer that the considerable amount of young talent the organization was accumulating could have them poised to make one of their once-a-decade runs, and my pal Marc Normandin did much the same at Sports on Earth in September.

So if in October, you’d have heard that the Marlins were going to sign six major league free agents, add two more via trade, and almost entirely blow up their under-performing infield, you might have thought that Miami was working to reinforce their young core. You might not have expected this collection of assorted parts from the island of misfit veterans:

Right. That’s two guys in their thirties who didn’t play in the bigs last year (Furcal & McGehee), and one who was outrighted off the 40-man roster by the Astros just last winter (Bogusevic). The two-year deals went to a pair of 32-year-olds, one of whom was a non-roster invite last season (Baker), the other below replacement-level (Jones). One was, is, and continues to be Carlos Marmol.

While Saltalamacchia’s deal looks nice considering the money thrown around this winter, and Capps is an intriguing bullpen piece, there’s a reason Miami ranks last — by a lot — in our 2014 projections. An infield of mediocre veterans on the back nine — don’t forget that Greg Dobbs has a contract, and Ty Wigginton is in camp on a minor-league deal — around the unplayable offense of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Last year’s Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre are this year’s Furcal and Jones; wash, rinse, repeat.

So while the Marlins appear content to run out a zombified infield rather than give Donovan Solano (26) another chance or let Derek Dietrich (25) attempt to apply his minor league success in the bigs or try to make a move to acquire a young infielder, 2014 looks like another year in transition. It’ll be a time to let Christian Yelich, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Marisnick and friends attempt to prove themselves as big league players, and that’s fine, but to even get to 70 wins for the first time in three seasons would count as a success. Safe to say, there’s no hope for October baseball in Miami this year.

That’s not really news, but it is particularly relevant because it means we need to talk about Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract status, which is pretty much the only non-Fernandez or Loria or nightmare home run feature reason anyone talks about the Marlins these days. Stanton is eligible to be a free agent following the 2016 season, which means Miami controls him for three more years. 2014 is almost certainly not going to be a playoff season. It’s excessively difficult to see 2015 being any different. 2016, well, maybe, if the young core progresses well, but by then it’s nearly too late, because the Freddie Freeman extension from last week has shed a bit of light on to Stanton’s value, and if there was any doubt Miami couldn’t retain him before, it should be clear as day now.

Because they were born less than two months apart from each other in the fall of 1989 and both debuted in the bigs in 2010 at age 20, these two make for a nice comparison:

2010-13 PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Stanton 2002 .265 .354 .535 .379 138 13.5
Freeman 1908 .285 .358 .466 .357 127 7.1

In essentially the same amount of playing time to date, Stanton has been a superior offensive performer to Freeman in every way, though perhaps the reality isn’t by as much as WAR indicates, since Stanton’s multiple aches and pains on such a large frame have to be taken into account. Still, barring a major injury, power still gets paid, and there’s arguably no one in the game who can match Stanton’s raw power.

Now Freeman has been valued at $28.5 million (including signing bonus) for his remaining three arbitration years, and $106.5 million for the five free agent years Atlanta is purchasing after that. As Dave Cameron has written about extensively over the last week, as shocking as those numbers seem, they’re almost a discount, since teams increasingly are willing to pay for youth, as long as that youth has shown the ability to produce. Freeman easily showed that, and now he’s massively wealthy. Stanton has shown that too, arguably to a greater extent than Freeman, and if he stays healthy, he’ll be rich beyond his wildest dreams as well.

That number is only going to increase the longer Stanton goes without a deal, and the Marlins reportedly haven’t even approached him about a contract as of last month. That’s partially because of the annual inflation of salaries, but also because each year that goes by means that the team has one fewer season of artificially-depressed team control salary they can buy out. If Freeman signed for 8/$135m with three years of control remaining, it’s not at all difficult to see Stanton going for $150m or more next year, a realistic number (assuming, again, a healthy 2014) considering that the similarly-aged Elvis Andrus picked up 8/$120m from Texas last year with two years left of team control. Andrus, obviously, contributes better defense at a much more valuable position, but the market still loves to pay for power, which we’ll soon see when someone actually gives Nelson Cruz a multiyear deal.

Do remember that it’s not only on the team to sign a contract, because the player has to want to strike a deal as well, and no one has forgotten Stanton’s vocal displeasure with the team after the Toronto trade. We haven’t heard much that indicates that his position has changed, and the Freeman deal now puts his price to a level that Miami almost certainly can’t — or more likely, won’t — reach.

Where this leaves the Marlins is in a position that’s entirely full of risk. They can’t compete in 2014 even with Stanton, and his presence may merely help them get to 71 wins rather than 66. They almost certainly can’t keep him long-term, and they risk his value evaporating if his next leg injury is a serious one. Sure, a Stanton trade risks angering their fan base, but at this point it barely matters, since no one bothers to come see this team even with him. Further than that, the way their young talent is set up — heavy on pitching, heavy on outfielders with Yelich, Marisnick, and Marcell Ozuna, but extremely light on infielders outside of third baseman Colin Moran — means that dealing from a position of strength to try to fix a likely problem on the next good Marlins team makes all the sense in the world.

The Marlins likely won’t trade Stanton this year, because they’ve been adamant they plan to “build around him.” Yet with the team very unlikely to contend for at least two of his three remaining years, and the idea of him signing an extension even less likely, there’s no upside for the Marlins here. Freeman’s extension has set a baseline for what Stanton can expect, and for the sake of the potentially-competitive 2016-18 Marlins, Stanton has to go — sooner than later.



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Mike Petriello used to write here, and now he does not. Find him at @mike_petriello or MLB.com.


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Helicopter Sunday
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Helicopter Sunday
2 years 5 months ago

You should be a GM!

Cool Lester Smooth
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Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 5 months ago

I don’t think it’s arguable that no one in the game can match Stanton’s raw power.

It’s pretty much an established consensus at this point, like saying that no one in the game can match Billy Hamilton’s speed.

Fredchuckdave
Guest
2 years 5 months ago

Yep, though maybe he’ll hit more opposite field Homeruns than young Ryan Howard. C’mon it could happen.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 5 months ago

Also, the deal didn’t make a ton of baseball sense for the Marlins. They got a #4 (Alvarez), a potential #3/#4 (Nicolino), a potential #4/#5 (Desclafani), a Rey Ordonez (Hechavarria), a good SS (Escobar) whom they immediately flipped for a not very good prospect (Derek Dietrich), a shitty catcher (Mathis) and a toolsy outfielder with major plate discipline issues and holes in his swing (Marisnick).

goprojoe
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goprojoe
2 years 5 months ago

Chris Davis?

goprojoe
Guest
goprojoe
2 years 5 months ago

I mean its arguable Davis can match his raw power

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 5 months ago

Stanton vs Davis or Harper is like Hamilton vs Buxton or Trout.

There’s 80 power, and then there’s Giancarlo Stanton.

John
Guest
Dag Gummit
Guest
Dag Gummit
2 years 4 months ago

That is a good point. When looking at a multi-year time frame, it does change things a bit (2010-2013; chosen to show Stanton’s career to-date):

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=11,d

The one big caveat to keep about that list, though, is age. The only players under 30 in the top 10 are Davis, Stanton and CarGo #1. And while CarGo and Davis are in their late 20s (read: in their prime), Stanton is still just entering his age-24 season.

Given how he is #3 on that list, I’d say there’s still a really good argument of him having a Power Tool that could eclipse even what Davis showed last year (mostly by having the higher potential to repeat that type of season multiple times through his prime).

Fredchuckdave
Guest
2 years 5 months ago

This post took a while to get to the topic/thesis

Atreyu Jones
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Atreyu Jones
2 years 5 months ago

“The Marlins likely won’t trade Stanton this year, because they’ve been adamant they plan to “build around him.” Yet with the team very unlikely to contend for at least two of his three remaining years, and the idea of him signing an extension even less likely, there’s no upside for the Marlins here.”

There IS obviously an upside: that they have him in the one of this three remaining years in which contention has not been deemed unlikely.

Anon21
Member
Anon21
2 years 5 months ago

“There IS obviously an upside: that they have him in the one of this three remaining years in which contention has not been deemed unlikely.”

I will go ahead and deem it “unlikely” that the Marlins will be playoff contenders in 2016. Not “nearly impossible,” as in 2014, but definitely unlikely, given the shambles their major-league team is in at the moment and the certainty that some of their currently touted prospects will bust. (I nominate Marcell Ozuna, by the way.) So yeah, there’s an upside to controlling Stanton’s rights in 2016, but it is small in comparison to the upside of moving him right now in exchange for a big collection of premium prospects.

The Narrative Strikes Again
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The Narrative Strikes Again
2 years 5 months ago

Stanton is all your daddies

Bobby Melody
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Bobby Melody
2 years 5 months ago

Be fun to see what Giancarlo could do in Colorado.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 5 months ago

Less than he could do in Philadelphia (152 HR factor in 2013), or Cincinnati (134), or Toronto (129).

http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor/_/sort/HRFactor

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
2 years 5 months ago

Those numbers are far more extreme than any other numbers I’ve seen. I think that factor may be weighting 1-year variation too highly.

Here are some likely more realistic ones:
http://www.fangraphs.com/guts.aspx?type=pf&teamid=0&season=2012

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 5 months ago

Agreed. We gotta move FG up the Google results! Time for some good ol’ SEO!

The Party Bird
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The Party Bird
2 years 5 months ago

This is anecdotal and probably has more than a bit to do with Rockies pitching, but Stanton really seems to have an abnormal amount of success at Coors Field.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

The problem is incredibly obvious.

Who has a these things:
A) The top prospects he would cost
B) Reasonable expectations to win in the next 3 years without creating substantial holes in current lineup.
C) or The ability to extend Stanton long term.

The answer is no-one really.

Ray
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2 years 5 months ago

the same teams who were in on Price.

Atreyu Jones
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Atreyu Jones
2 years 5 months ago

If no teams are willing to give A) because of B) and C), then we have to go back to A) and adjust downward the cost.

Franco
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Franco
2 years 5 months ago

Which is why I think he’s not going to be traded.

Stanton is in some kind of bizarro scenario where I think his trade value with 3 years of control is the same as 2 years of control. No one can or will give the Marlins fair value for him now since it’s a hard psychologically to give up your top 3 (4?) prospects. The Marlins might as well play him for a year and than deal him for what is probably the same packages they were offered this offseason.

Zach
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Zach
2 years 5 months ago

The Red Sox. Top 5 farm system, *very* reasonable expectations to win the next 3 years, certainly the ability to sign him long term. Plus, no one is really banging on the door at 1B. The only hang-up is that currently they seem to have adopted a very anti-long term deal business model (see Gonzalez, Crawford trade, letting Ellsbury walk), Pedroia being the only exception – and one can see why.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

As I just stated above, the Red Sox along with several other teams would be better off signing him in FA because they can afford the FA premium and they don’t need him to contend now.

The Red Sox are in a unique spot where they probably need their farm system too. They have a ton of older guys coming off the books in the next 2 years. Napoli,Victorino,Gomes,Ortiz,Lester,Peavy,Dempster all become FA after the 2014 or 2015 season. Lackey could retire too instead of having the $500k vesting option in 2015. That gives them a shell of a team without prospect talent slotting in.

pistolpete7551
Member
pistolpete7551
2 years 5 months ago

Boston meets all those conditions. A package centered around Henry Owens and Cecchini/Bradley should get it done. I say SHOULD because I’m sure Florida will ask for something unreasonable like Bogaerts and Owens. With Ortiz on the back end of his career, a Stanton trade would be a great fit for the Sox if the Marlins are willing to play ball. Boston has the flexibility to throw $180 million at Stanton and lock him up for the next decade. If they wait until free agency to go after him, the cost will be up near $300 million considering the rate of inflation we’re seeing these days.

snapper
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snapper
2 years 5 months ago

The Marlins should hang up on the Red Sox if they ask for Stanton and take Bogaerts off the table.

Any package for Stanton starts with a Top 10 (A Rated) prospect, and then add 3 or 4 B guys.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

There is 0 chance a trade for Stanton happens unless the Marlins got at least 2 top 20 prospects. Or a top 10 and a few top 100 guys.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 5 months ago

How on earth is asking for Bogaerts unreasonable? Bogaerts is the starting point from which the Red Sox can build. Even Bogaerts and Owens would require someone like Cecchini or Swihart as a sweetener.

John C
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John C
2 years 5 months ago

I wouldn’t trade Bogaerts for Stanton even-up. Stanton is a one-dimensional slugger who is injury-prone. Bogaerts doesn’t have his power, but he’s already an above-average major-league hitter at the age of 21, capable of playing key defensive positions well, and who wasn’t intimidated on the biggest stage in baseball.

Unless we’re talking about Babe Ruth, I would never, ever trade a multi-dimensional young talent for someone who’s a bat and nothing else. Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley would be off the table. Anyone else in the system, they can have.

BMarkham
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BMarkham
2 years 5 months ago

It’s easy to see why trading Bogaerts plus other top prospects would be a bad idea for Boston when looking at Surplus value. Let’s project Stanton to be a 4.5 WAR player each of the next 3 years, for 13.5 WAR total. Next year he’ll be paid $6.5 million, and let’s say he makes $9.5 million after that and then $13 million in 2016, for a total $29 million. At $6 Million/WAR he comes out to $52 million surplus value, which is great.

But Bogaerts is projected for 2.5-3 WAR next year, which is the first of 3 years of him at the minimum salary. Being that next year is his age 21 season, he’ll likely improve from that to more like 4+ WAR during his arb years (which will be ages 24-27). So taking a conservative estimate he could easily produce 8 WAR in his first 3 years at the minimum, which alone would be worth a little more than $46 million in surplus value. And that’s before considering his arbitration years, in which he’ll be paid more but will be in his prime. I think it’s fairly likely that during Boegaert’s arbitration years he’s worth pretty close to the same amount Stanton will be worth during his last 3 arb years. So with those first three years at league minimum it will be easy for him to beat Stanton on surplus value.

Bogaerts is very likely to be worth more surplus value in his 6 years of control than Stanton will be worth in his 3 years of control left, and that’s without considering any other prospects involved.

John C
Guest
John C
2 years 5 months ago

The Boston Red Sox have all three of those things, in spades. Question is whether or not they’d be willing to trade a carload of grade-A prospects for a one-dimensional slugger, and the answer is probably no.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

Especially because as I stated above: The Red Sox have the money to sign him as a free agent consider other than a team friendly Pedroia deal, they lack any long term commitments and have young cost controlled talent.

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

I’ll note the Red Sox have only $13M in contracts on the books in 2016. The Cubs will only have $31M. The Astro will only have $11M.

Tim
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Tim
2 years 5 months ago

Cubs seem like the obvious answer, and there are probably some non-obvious ones.

Jason B
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Jason B
2 years 5 months ago

Seems a little like an anti-Theo move though, no? Blowing up (or at least partially dismantling) the farm system for one piece? (Not that any of the prospects are a given, certainly.)

Matthew
Member
Member
2 years 5 months ago

I think the Cubs could start a package with Baez. A top propsect at SS, but he is blocked by Starlin Castro, who they have locked up until 2020(he’ll only be 30).

If Castro appears to be moving back to being a 3 WAR player, I would think about it. Especially because the Cubs could afford to extend Stanton.

But just like the Red Sox, the Cubs could easily afford to sign Stanton in FA

BMarkham
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BMarkham
2 years 5 months ago

@GilaMonster

I wouldn’t consider Baez blocked by Castro at all. For one, Castro had a poor season last year and for two, there are concerns about Baez sticking at SS. Either Castro falls off or Baez moves to 3B or 2B (with Bryant moving to COF if Baez moves to 3B). I doubt the Cubs FO is worried at all about what to do between Castro and Baez, it’ll work itself out.

Cybo
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Cybo
2 years 5 months ago

Orioles.

TKDC
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TKDC
2 years 5 months ago

If Stanton has a good year, it seems like he still goes into next off-season at pretty much the max for prospect return. You can only get so much back for a player, and whether they trade him now or next off-season, that amount will be huge.

Mr Punch
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Mr Punch
2 years 5 months ago

You do have to bear in mind that while he may know art, Loria’s an idiot in the baseball business. He paid almost $40 million to own the Marlins rather than the Nationals.

Tim
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Tim
2 years 5 months ago

And got waaaaay more than that back in extra tax breaks and stadium money.

Johnston
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Johnston
2 years 5 months ago

Who would want to be in dull DC when you could be in fun Miami?

BB
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BB
2 years 5 months ago

If you can’t have fun in DC, you aren’t trying.

tribetime33
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tribetime33
2 years 5 months ago

I think that Stanton just had a down year. Even with his injuries, I think he’s going to be in the top 3 of Right Fielders in the Majors. His projections show that he has the potential to grow and do better every year for the next 5 years. Scary to see him do better and have an injury free season.

Tim
Guest
Tim
2 years 5 months ago

What is the point in accumulating prospects, if those prospects are only used to acquire more prospects once they become major league talent? Why not keep him for three more years at a relatively low price, extend a qualifying offer and get 1 prospect in return rather than trading him now for 3 prospects? At some point you have to try to win and not continue a self-defeating cycle.

John C
Guest
John C
2 years 5 months ago

That’s what I would do if I were them, actually. Just keep him around and try to contend in 2015 and 2016. Then collect a first-round draft pick when the Yankees throw $300 million at him and watch him turn into their next Giambi or Teixeira.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
2 years 5 months ago

Because at best Stanton will only help them for one competitive year. And 3 prospects closer to the MLB is much better than a draft pick. If the Marlins were as much as a fringe contender this year, I doubt this article get’s written.

BMarkham
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BMarkham
2 years 5 months ago

Also I think it’s a hilarious that you call it a “self defeating cycle”. It’s only the same thing the Rays have done in the past that has now made them contenders despite playing in the toughest division and having one of the smallest payrolls. Now they’re at the point where they are contenders and they’re balking at trading Price, whereas a few years ago they certainly would have. Of course they will still trade Price if they get the right offer, and if they DO trade Price it will probably slightly lower their ability to compete in 2014 while making them a much stronger team in 2015 and beyond.

It’s just what small market teams have to do to be competitive, and being a small market team the Marlins would be wise to do the same.

Nathan
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Nathan
2 years 5 months ago

Let’s just get this over with. Trade him to the Tigers. It’s the way the world works.

Cybo
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Cybo
2 years 5 months ago

They send Porcello Castleanos and Smyly I could see it. Maybe one more piece and a few hot n readys.

BMarkham
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BMarkham
2 years 5 months ago

Sheesh, this isn’t as bad as Bogaerts, Owens, and Cecchini for Stanton, but this is really bad. You guys are either way over rating Stanton, or way under rate the value a strong player gives you in his first 3 years in the bigs. Both the Tigers and Red Sox proposed trades would be a swindling that beats the Shields/Myers trade.

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