Since the World Series ended, the San Francisco Giants have gotten a great deal of media play over their self-advertised interest in trading for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
The Marlins have sent strong signals they will trade Stanton and want much of the $295 million remaining on his contract to travel with him.
The 11 years left on that contract (including a final buy-out year and absent exercising the 2020 opt out) averages out to $27 million a year, and Stanton will be 38 years old in the final contract year.
But the one huge elephant missing from the room in most of the discussions about a potential Giancarlo Stanton trade is his relative contract value.
By the 2019 season, Stanton’s “enormous” salary will have easily been eclipsed after Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and a half dozen other MLB superstars cash in during the free agency frenzy of the 2018 off-season.
Harper should easily command $350-$400 million on a ten-year deal, with other free agents not far behind.
The highest contract years for Giancarlo Stanton are 2023-2025 during which he will make $32 million a season.
So basically Stanton is getting paid pretty much exactly what he should in the current market-place, and by 2021-22 he will start to become a bargain.
Four teams have consistently been identified as serious Stanton suitors: the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Francisco Giants.
While the Red Sox need a monster bat in their everyday line-up, and Philadelphia is on the verge of emerging as the next young MLB powerhouse, the case for the St. Louis Cardinals may be the most compelling.
St. Louis has plenty of money to spend, and an excess of talented young pitching and outfield pieces– which would certainly sweeten a potential offer for Stanton to the Marlins. And the Redbirds also need an impact bat to set their offense.
However, word on the base paths is that Giancarlo has no interest in going to the Cardinals and would prefer a West Coast team.
Which gets us back to the Giants. (And the Dodgers if they chime in at the last minute. But LA has so many talented young players coming up through their farm system I don’t see them moving on Stanton.)
San Francisco’s whole approach the past two off-seasons seems to be getting their name inserted into as many potential trade deals as possible. Just to look good and pacify their recently restless fanbase.
The Giants have been on a three-year down slide which culminated in an historically nasty 64-98 last place finish in the NL West this season.
What’s the moral of the story from the Giants’ front office? Well, when you can’t do anything, pretend you’re doing stuff anyway—it just looks better.
That’s why all the stunningly bland clichés coming from Giants General Manager Bobby Evans amidst the swirling Giancarlo superstorm just represent the usual empty posturing. Hey, maybe the fans will think the front office is actually dynamic and forward-looking.
Which is OK, because an actual Giants/Giancarlo marriage would be a tremendous long-term disaster for San Francisco– a team already rife with a number of bad long-term contracts and aging mid-performing players.
Going into the 2018 season, the Giants’ base payroll is about at the $170-175 million level. The 2018 MLB luxury tax starts at $197 million (any amount spent above that will cost the team a 50% tax).
Which leaves about $25 million available to spend freely for a franchise that needs two outfielders (maybe three); a third baseman; at least two additional pieces in the bullpen; an offensive bench that can actually create runs after the 6th inning; and, at minimum, two additional MLB-level starters.
So, let the Giants’ wild spending frenzy begin!
[Note: as documented many times here, the San Francisco Giants have by far the wealthiest ownership group in all of Major League Baseball, so they can easily afford anything they want.]
If the Giants take on Giancarlo Stanton’s contract (even if they give up a player off the 25-man roster in the deal), they will immediately hit the luxury tax mark.
Which the front office will declare a red line in the sand, though still in desperate need of a center fielder and the multitude of pieces noted above.
But the Giants ownership and front office group will hope a Stanton signing gets them off the hook from having to actually fix their broken organization, from the twenty-five man roster all the way down to the rookie leagues.
Because, for the clueless, a Stanton signing would be an easier solution than a system-wide fix.
And while a Stanton-to-the-Giants deal will create initial spark and excitement for a time, by the 2018 All Star break the realization will slowly sink in that signing one or two high end players won’t be nearly enough to turn this mess around. Even a Giancarlo-grade bat.
Then, when they finish in fourth or fifth place in the NL West in 2018, everyone will be sad all over again.
Only they’ll also be sad to have yet another expensive, soon-to-be aging player tied to the team for years and years and years…