So as I'm sure those of you who've been paying close attention to the Giancarlo Stanton trade sweepstakes as they've caught fire for essentially the last week and the whole Winter Meetings. However, as we stand heading into Saturday Morning, the newly crowned NL MVP is still in Miami with about 4-5 teams with real, shots at landing the big slugger'
One of those teams, obviously, is the San Francisco Giants, who officially made a trade offer to Miami on Thursday. According to CBS Sports, the Giants are the first team to make an official offer to Miami for the MVP, which shows you just how interested they are in acquiring the right-fielder.. As far as I've read, the handful of teams besides the Giants, who Stanton would waive his no-trade clause for are the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. All those teams certainly have the means to get a deal done, so it really comes down to who's going to eat most of that contract and which team offers the best package on top of that. Stanton said he did prefer to go to a perennial contender, which all those teams essentially are making them the most likely group of five to land Stanton if he is indeed dealt like expected. Now, if the Giants are going to indeed bring the big guy aboard, they're either going to have to clear payroll by dealing a big contract of their own or risk taking on a mighty large luxury tax from the MLB for excessive payroll.
They were talking a lot about Stanton on KNBR for the brief periods I was tuned into the station today, and offered a few scenarios in which the Giants could bring the slugger aboard without having to add that crazy of an amount of payroll, although it still would significantly increase. That is a scenario in which they deal one of their own big contracts, but not to the Marlins, who are obviously trying to shed payroll, but possibly to another team in a three-way deal, or have another deal in the works to fall into place immediately after a potential Stanton trade. The two names being most discussed are pitcher Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, as both are slotted to earn upwards of about $20M for the next four and five seasons, respectively, although Cueto's deal has him closer to $25M per. Now, obviously, in a thin starting pitching market after Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb will also hit the market as probably the next two best after Darvish and Arrieta which means they're going to get overpaid so teams looking for a potential ace or #2 like Cueto and /or a rock-solid mid-rotation guy like Shark, then the Giants could realistically find a taker for one of the two if they choose to go that route.
A potential three-way deal could possibly done, in theory, especially if the Giants are intending on dumping off payroll in the event of a Stanton deal. They could deal one of their high-priced starters to a team like the Cubbies or Cardinals then have one of those teams send some prospects Miami's way, it could be a win-win-win type of deal. The Marlins obviously want to cut payroll, as they've lost money season after season for a while now and have the new ballpark they're funding, and that's the reason why they're considering dealing the under-30, 60-HR per year threat in Stanton, because he's still owed a lot of money on his nearly $300M deal he signed with the Marlins in the not too distant past.
Now, if they can't deal away a big contract and still find a way to swing Stanton, the plus side for San Francisco is that they do have Pence and Span coming off the books after the '18 season which will free up roughly $30M annualy, and that's more than Stanton's yearly rate (roughly $27M/per though 2027), so when you look at it that way, you see how it could make financial sense for the Giants (assuming they don't have to give up all their prospects and take on the contract). On the other hand, when you see that this deal will take Stanton well into his late-thirties, you have to imagine that there may be a few years towards the end of the deal in which the Giants are paying nearly $30M/season too a guy who's injured half the time and a shadow of the player they dealt for 10 years prior.
The first half of that deal shouldn't be an issue whatsoever as he should more than be able to earn that money, so long as he stays on the field for 145+ ballgames (which is far from a given as Stanton hasn't played many injury-free seasons in his career). It's surprising because the 28 year-old outfielder is a guy in tip-top shape right now though, and could be a good bet to stay productive for much of the second half of the deal. Will he hit 60 HR's when he's 37? Probably not, but with his conditioning and strength and if he stays healthy and ages well (sorta like that Bonds guy that used to play LF in San Francisco) whoever lands the most feared right-handed batter in the game will have possibly made one of the most impactful trades in MLB history.
Now, I know it's exciting to talk Stanton and see that the Giants do seem to have at least a halfway decent shot at landing him, chances are still more likely that he'll be wearing another teams uniform in 2018, which would leave the Giants moving on their backup plans. Those backup plans include the likes of Billy Hamilton, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez. Apparently the team has had discussions with Martinez about bringing him over to play left while also looking into some strong defensive center fielders as well. They've also asked the Reds about Billy Hamilton and the BoSox about Jackie Bradley Jr. If you follow us on twitter or have read the comments in the last post then you know how I personally feel about these backup options. They're a far cry from Stanton, but both certainly are upgrades to what the Giants currently have in center. Span, while his bat came around towards the end of the year, is headed into his age-34 season and really ever since joining the Giants, he's looked about 40. He's looked much slower, both on the base-paths and defensively in center field, and his swing, take away from a couple hot months in 2017, has looked slow and sluggish as well.
Hamilton is one of, if not the fastest man in baseball, and was second in the game in steals last season. His speed makes him a terrific center fielder, gold glove caliber, but his one area that still needs development is is on-base skills and him putting the ball in play a little more. With his speed, as soon as he gets a better feel of the strike-zone, his OBP, batting average and as a byproduct of those, his runs and steals will go up as well, and that's scary to think about if he does put it all together. He's 27 so he's still learning a bit, and I'd welcome him in center, but only if the Giants had plans on bringing in power to play left, or third base.
Bradley offers a little more pop than Hamilton but nowhere near the speed, though he too is considered a very good center fielder. I haven't seen much of him, but watched some YouTube video on him and he certainly is one talented left-handed bat. When healthy he's a 25+ HR threat with run producing abilities, a solid .270-.280 hitter and as I said, one of the better defenders in baseball. Neither of these two guys are what I'd consider real "difference makers" in a lineup, although each would help tremendously and it would be exciting and fun to watch Hamilton roam the spacious outfield at AT&T Park.
I'm sure more names will surface in the coming days though as well, unless something gets done before hand. The Winter Meetings, which seem to have the most movement, both trade and free agent wise, isn't up for about another month.so things may cool down until closer to then, or maybe there was progress that indeed happened at the GM Meetings this past week and moves could start taking place before Thanksgiving. Not only is it holiday season, but it's the baseball hot stove season and both seem to always start heating up around the same time. I know I've said this a couple times already recently, and I know some of the players the Giants are "looking at" or "discussing", but again, I have no idea really as to what this team's roster will look like in a few months when the team starts trickling in for Spring Training.
I do know one thing, however, and that's if this team can find a way to bring the NL's most valuable player from 2017 over to San Francisco, you'd be looking at a whole new excitement and whole new life pumped into the clubhouse, the lineup, the fans and the city for this team after they've largely disappointed since their tittle in '14. I mean, they looked like a sure-fire 'Series contender for the first half of '16, but outside of that, they've been one of the worst teams in the league for 2 1/2 of the last 3 seasons and I think the brass, along with the fans are over it.
In other words, a bold move wouldn't surprise me, and while I hope that bold move is Stanton, if it isn't, they have to keep their minds open regarding some other possible scenarios. This team, while they've looked so terrible the last year and a half, are only a few pieces, and a turnaround or two internally away from being right back up where they were just a few seasons ago!
Oh how I love the MLB offseason an all it's possibilities and potential promise. The Giants disappointed me massively last winter, adding only Mark Melancon when they so clearly needed at least 2 or 3 other upgrades, and see how that came back to bite them and ultimately tear their season apart? I know Brian Sabean is too baseball savvy and smart to let that happen 2 years in a row, whether he's the guy in the GM chair or not, I expect him to be more hands on this time around and with Bobby Evans and I expect the Giants to have a much better offseason..... at least I sure hope that's the case.
This post first appeared on The Giants Baseball Blog- A San Francisco Giants B, please read the originial post: here