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November 19, 2012

Pebble Hunting

Trading Giancarlo Stanton

by Sam Miller

How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.
G. K. Chesterton

***

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.
G.K. Chesterton

***

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
—Also G.K. Chesterton

***

It would be easier to know what the Marlins should do if we knew what the Marlins actually want to do. There’s no point suggesting that they go out and sign, say, Nick Swisher if their long-term desire is to render all their players into glue so that Jeffrey Loria can bedazzle a Caravaggio. There are far cheaper ways to get glue.

But let’s assume Loria’s priorities fall into five-ish categories:

1. Generate revenue
2. Cut expenses
3. Win baseball
4. Troll so hard
5. Maintain future revenue streams

It’s rare that a trade could meet all five of those goals, and the pending deal with the Blue Jays does not: It meets goal no. 2, and goal no. 4, and in a vacuum it probably hits goal no. 3, but at the expense of goals no. 1 and 5 and perhaps in a non-vacuum at the expense of goal no. 3. And what about trading Giancarlo Stanton? On the surface, the only goal it certainly achieves is goal no. 4. But which goals does keeping Stanton meet?

1. Nobody is going to come out and watch the Marlins this year, Stanton or not; his public disgust at his employers might actually suppress fan enthusiasm.
2. He’s barely making the major-league minimum, but after his first arbitration hearing after 2013 he’ll quite possibly be the Marlins’ highest-paid player.
3. He helps the Marlins win games, but at least from this moment in history it doesn’t look likely that he’ll help the Marlins win any meaningful games for at least two years and maybe forever years.
4. No troll.
5. He does help maintain future revenue streams, as the Marlins’ last potential future revenue stream is kidnapping Stanton and making us all pay a ransom to get him back.

Basically, Stanton is either going to be traded soon or he’s going to be traded in a couple years. The Marlins probably aren’t going to achieve anything, on the field or with their fans, in the next couple years. So in the meantime Stanton is a superstar wasted, and Jeffrey Loria has created a spectacular situation where it's not worth hanging onto a 23-year-old pre-arb player who just led the league in slugging percentage.

Now we’re going to talk about fake trade proposals. I know how you feel about fake trade proposals, because I feel the same way: they’re all a shame upon our species. But you know how I feel about making fake trade proposals—that is, I can’t help it :( —because you feel the same way. The average human male thinks about a fake trade proposal every eight seconds. As long as we all acknowledge that these fake trade proposals are for entertainment purposes only, that they’re really just a way of talking about team needs, the relative value of different contracts, the role players have or could have on a major-league team, and the like, we can proceed without hating each other.

It would be easy to say this about the Marlins: they could trade Giancarlo Stanton for a bunch of prospects. They could do it, and it’s not really worth putting together an imaginary package of such prospects here; presumably, they would want great prospects, and that’s the sort of prospects they would get. That would accomplish something, and it’s acknowledged. But get past the Stanton-for-prospects construction and let’s think about what else the Marlins might hope to accomplish by trading their best player before he costs anything.

1. They could get a player of a type they couldn’t otherwise sign. “Couldn’t otherwise sign,” in this case and in the current atmosphere, refers to almost anybody good, as the Marlins have recently blown their good will.
2. They could spend money. This might seem odd, since the Marlins are in the middle of a fire sale. But trading Reyes, Buehrle, and Bell might not have been about being broke, but about trading contracts that aren’t good. A pretty simple fact about long-term contracts is that GMs consent to the disadvantageous later years because they want the advantageous first year. I imagine every GM would love to trade their multi-year contracts after the first year. Loria just had the total lack of self-awareness to actually do what everybody else only thinks about. The upshot: We know Loria has the money to spend, if he finds the players he wants to spend it on.
3. Cubans? I don’t know, just throwing it out there.
4. They could be stupid ambitious. At this point, Loria has to hope that he can convince everybody he’s not a rational sociopath, but an irrational drunk. If we think he’s in control of himself, we’ll always distrust him. If we think he’s got a sickness, we’ll party with him any time, until he wraps his car around a telephone pole, at which point we’ll feel a little guilty that we didn’t do anything to help him.
5. They should try to win some games by the end of 2014. If any team is in an existential crisis, it’s the Marlins, and other than perhaps the Angels and Dodgers, there might not be another team that could benefit from a 90-win season more than the Marlins right now. That’s an unlikely ambition, but it would be swell.

With those in mind, here are five templates for a trade, and don’t forget: I said stupid ambitious! I am absolved of all blame.

1. The total rebuild.
Rangers get Giancarlo Stanton.
Marlins get Ian Kinsler, Mike Olt, Leonys Martin and cash from Rangers; Garrett Richards and Kendrys Morales from Angels.
Angels get Alexi Ogando

Theory behind it: The Marlins get a mix of short- and long-term regulars, a top-20 prospect but also an immediate innings eater, and add enough players to the 2013 team that they rebuild some immediate credibility, and get all sorts of Cubans. They take advantage of one team’s positional glut and perhaps extension regret to add an All-Star middle infielder, the sort of player not typically available unless the Marlins are holding a fire sale.

Who says no? Actually forget the Who Says No part of this. Who Says No is dumb. These fake trades aren’t pointless just because one team is going to say no; after all, we’ve seen plenty of trades (Crawford/Beckett/Gonzalez to the Dodgers, Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers, Casey Blake to the Dodgers, lot of trades involving the Dodgers) where the Who Says No answer was so obvious before the trade even existed yet the trade still happened. No, these fake trades are pointless because they involve a bunch of names and no basis in reality; it’s like trying to guess what number between 1 and 100 a GM is thinking of, and then trying to do that five more times. Whether the trades are unbalanced barely matters.

2. One very great for two very goods.
Mariners get Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco;
Marlins get Kyle Seager from Mariners; Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez from Rays;
Rays get Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin from Mariners.

Theory behind it: The Marlins lose the best player in the deal, but without forfeiting upside or immediate help. They trade Stanton without totally punting 2013, and get two credible All-Star candidates in their mid-20s. While the Marlins are going to have a hard time signing a star like Stanton for a long time, they’re also going to have a hard time signing major-league regulars, and Hellickson and Seager fill two holes for a while.

3. A-Rod.
Yankees get Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco;
Marlins get Alex Rodriguez, Michael Pineda;
Yankees pay the difference between Rodriguez’s salary and Nolasco’s.

Theory behind it: The Marlins essentially give the illusion of spending money by having the highest-paid player in baseball, lots of media interest, and a historic home run chase, without actually spending any money. And who knows, maybe Rodriguez is still good.

4. The online reputation builder.
Giants get Giancarlo Stanton
Marlins get Tim Lincecum, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Brian Wilson, and some combination of all the prospects and all the cash.

Theory behind it: The Marlins realize everybody hates them worse than they were expecting, so they overcorrect and take on a whole bunch of veterans that the Giants might deem inessential, as they won the World Series without many contributions from the list. They field a credible 2013 lineup, have a couple trade deadline chits if the season gets out of hand, and otherwise get to shed a lot of the salary after a year. They get a superstar back (though, barring a return to form by Lincecum, certainly not one as good as Stanton), and at the end of it they have a big-league regular in Belt and maybe a couple new prospects. Alas, the Giants probably don’t have the prospects or cash to make this happen.

5. The challenge.
Diamondbacks get Giancarlo Stanton
Marlins get Justin Upton, Trevor Bauer

Theory behind it: Instead of one superstar, Marlins spin it into two possible superstars, both under team control for plenty of time, both with a non-zero chance of flopping. If things work out, Upton and Bauer make the Marlins sort of good in 2014, and maybe very good in 2015. If they don’t, it hurts the going-nowhere Marlins a lot less than it would hurt the Diamondbacks.

Do any of these moves make the Marlins winners? Probably not, for at least few years of being loathed. But that’s not these trades’ fault. The Marlins are just terrible. Frankly, it’s more fun right now to talk about them without Giancarlo Stanton than with Giancarlo Stanton. I’m tempted to fake-trade Jacob Turner next. 

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Trade Rumors,  Giancarlo Stanton

30 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

grandslam28

Think the Rays would be the clear favorite with all their MLB ready pitching. They could put together a package of Hellickson, (Cobb, Archer, or Neiman), & Wade Davis. Rays would do this in a second for a per Arb Stanton and their rotation doesn't even take a hit. Can't see Marlins getting this good of pitching from anyone else. Also makes Marlins immediately much better and looking much better for the future.

Nov 19, 2012 05:40 AM
rating: 0
 
DarinRuf18

i think if the Rays offered Hellickson, Nieman/Cobb, and Davis, the Marlins would laugh at them. The best power hitter in the game without even getting a potential All-Star back in return? Hellickson is good, but not great. His stuff would probably profile well in Miami though. I like Cobb and Archer, but neither are likely stud prospects. Nieman is meh. Neither him nor Davis would get me excited at all. I think the Marlins arent neccessarily looking for a ton of starting pitching either. They've still got Nolasco, Turner, Eovaldi, LeBlanc, Fernandez, Nicolino(2-3 years away)...if they are going to trade Stanton, they need to get back something a lot less Vanilla than that package sugggested above IMO.

then again, who the hell knows what Loria is gonna do next. For all we know, he could be in the works to trade Stanton to the Phillies for Darin Ruf, Kyle Kendrick, the Phanatic, and the sole rights to sell Crab Frie at their ballpark.

Nov 19, 2012 06:50 AM
rating: 0
 
grandslam28

Fine Matt Moore instead of Hellickson,and I wouldnt call Hellickson bland, a kid who put up a 2.95 & 3.1 ERAs his first two years in the league in the AL East. Much rather have him than a Taijuan Walker who is only in double A and has never proven anything in the majors. The other three all look to be decent 2 if w/ downsides of being decent 3/4 pitchers. Wade Davis looked fantastic in the bullpen this year, and might become a lock down closer.
I would much rather this package than any mentioned above except for the maybe the Rangers, but the Angels would be giving up a ton for a reliever.

Nov 19, 2012 07:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

FYI - Ogando is going back to the rotation. He'd definitely be a starter in LAA, too.

Nov 19, 2012 08:24 AM
 
grandslam28

Yea I actually really like Ogando, and thought he should have started last year.

Nov 19, 2012 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

Agreed. I'm a big time Ogando fan.

Nov 19, 2012 18:21 PM
 
DarinRuf18

there is quite a significant difference between Matt Moore and Hellickson. Still, i dont think that would be enough either. Moore profiles as a potential lefty-ace with plus stuff and the ability to dominate games and possibly even win Cy-Youngs down the line(if he can get control problems under wraps)....Hellickson's ERA might look nice, but here are some more telling stats

2010: 8.14 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 13.3% LD%

2011: 4.44 FIP, 4.72 xFIP, 4.78 SIERA, .223 BABIP, 82% LOB%, 5.57 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 20.0% LD%

2012: 4.60 FIP, 4.44 xFIP, 4.44 SIERA, .261 BABIP, 82.7% LOB%, 6.31 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 21.0% LD%

i think most of these numbers speak for themselves, but with such a low K/9, especially compared to his BB/9 rate, an unsustainable BABIP/LOB%, and a LD% that's risen the past 3 years, i dont see Hellickson having nearly the same value as you do...and i think the Marlins would take Walker any day of the week over Hellickson. they arent going to contend this year, and Walker projects to be an elite elite, ace-type SP. Hellickson is more of a #3/4. i think you are tossing around #2 starter rather freely. maybe they would be on the Marlins where Nolasco is currently their "#1 SP", but in terms of the average #2 SP, hellickson, Cobb, and Archer just dont compare. If literally evreything fell into place for Archer, he might have a ceiling of a #2. But think about some of the #2 SP around the league?...Gio, Cliff Lee, Harrison, Kuroda, Peavy, Jarrod Parker, Latos, Scherzer, Buehrle, Grienke, Bumgarner, etc...i just dont see Hellickson in that same class of SP. this is Stanton we're talking about here. i fully believe you would have to sell the house to get him.

and i dont see Wade Davis profiling as a closer in any situation at all. especially not a "lock down" closer. yes, he had a great season out of the bullpen, but he sits in the low 90s with his fastball and he doesnt have any single plus plus offering like most closers. hes a solid pitcher, but by no means is he gonna get a deal done for me if im the marlins. just my opinion though, obviously you are more than welcome to disagree. just think you are slightly overvaluing hellickson, cobb, and davis. maybe im wrong though, its very possible. certainly happened before.

Nov 19, 2012 11:47 AM
rating: 2
 
AJ

Best article ever.

Nov 19, 2012 06:27 AM
rating: 0
 
RotoLando

You're crazy, man.

I like you, but you're crazy.

Nov 19, 2012 08:29 AM
rating: 0
 
Menthol

The Giants would NEVER make that trade.

Nov 19, 2012 08:30 AM
rating: -1
 
grandslam28

Giants would do that trade in a heartbeat, getting rid of Lincecum at 1 year $20 million, a Belt who doesnt look spectacular, Brian Wilson who will be getting a ton of money or be a free agent, 1 year of an average/underachieving Hunter Pence.
Giants instantly get better and even if Lincecum is great for the one year and Pence is good, the Giants come out way ahead in their future and dont lose that much on the season.

Nov 19, 2012 09:55 AM
rating: 3
 
juiced

The problem is the Giants' window is right now. That trade would weaken them for 2013 as you have to assume some regression-related improvement from Timmy and Pence as well as developmental improvement from Belt. Timmy's rotation spot would be replaced by Yusmeiro Petit and Belt world be replaced by Brett Pill, big enough dropoffs to cost more than a Stanton-Pence upgrade. Thus while the trade would make huge sense in the abstract it would make little sense for the Giants , as currently constituted, to do it. Their window is now.

Nov 22, 2012 14:43 PM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

Why not? I'd make it in a heartbeat

Nov 19, 2012 09:58 AM
rating: 2
 
godfather

Love the every eight-second reference...actually, I think about Stanton in pinstripes at about that frequency.

Nov 19, 2012 08:32 AM
rating: 1
 
godfather

The Miami Maudlins has a nice ring to it...

Nov 19, 2012 08:34 AM
rating: 0
 
sitdancer

I do hope the Marlins will not waste Stanton's career, so either getting that team some help soon or trading him would have to be in order.

Nov 19, 2012 08:36 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Scenario 6: Stanton tweets too much and gets traded because a demotion like Logan Morrison's just won't work as a valid excuse.

Nov 19, 2012 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
lipitorkid

"The average human male thinks about a fake trade proposal every eight seconds."

I smirked at the implication here to trading our wives and girlfriends...although Mike D'Antoni would yell at you for wasting a whole second in your effort to score.

Nov 19, 2012 09:12 AM
rating: 2
 
Richard Bergstrom

When I found out Dan Haren wasn't going to the Cubs, I felt cheated on.

Nov 19, 2012 12:18 PM
rating: 1
 
ColKiner

How about Stanton to KC for Odorizzi, Myers, Givotella, and any number of other prospects. The Royaould likely be interested in taking on Nolasco too

Nov 19, 2012 09:50 AM
rating: 0
 
grandslam28

They would be my second guess, but Tampa has too many great proven arms that they could trade away to a team with no pitching.

Nov 19, 2012 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
RedsManRick

I'm a little surprised not see a Reds deal based around Aroldis Chapman. Just call it "The Cuban Icon". Add in Billy Hamilton and you have to think the Marlins would come to the table.

Nov 19, 2012 10:32 AM
rating: 1
 
Schlom

Since I think it's possible that Stanton turns out to be the best of the young OF'ers (Trout, Harper, Heyward, etc) I'd pretty much give up anything to trade for Stanton. I doubt that any of those trades would happen because none of them return that spectacular of a package. However what if a team offers a ton? If the Padres offered Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Jedd Gyorko, and Robbie Erlin for Stanton would the Marlins take it? Or is that too much for the Padres to give up?

Nov 19, 2012 15:30 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Too much for the Padres to give up.

Something like Gyorko, Erlin and another pitching prospect would work.. From the Padres side, Gyorko's a bit superfluous with Headley's breakout year.

Nov 19, 2012 15:52 PM
rating: -2
 
tb3nn3tt

I disagree - I don't even think Alonso/Grandal/Gyroko/Erlin gets it done. Those are four very good players, but if you trade someone like Stanton, you have to get some superstar potential back.

It wouldn't be like trading 1/2 year of Zack Grienke, where you have 2-3 teams bidding... If the Marlins announced that Stanton were available, every team in baseball would be fighting each other for the chance to hand over their farm system.

As a Ranger fan, they could offer something like Profar, Olt, Perez, and Martin and I don't know if I'd be too upset. It's a 24 year old, who is already one of the best players in baseball, who is under control for four years, and who gets paid next to nothing.

Nov 19, 2012 16:37 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Wouldn't it be similar to last year's Montero/Pineda trade with Stanton in place of Pineda? Montero was relatively unproven and Pineda had established major league success.

Granted, Stanton's a superstar and it's harder to find an outfielder with his skill set, but I doubt four quality propsects like that would be needed.

And besides, if I was the Padres, I'd just hang on to Alonso/Grandal/Gyroko/Erlin and wait a year or two then sign Stanton. Ditto if I was the Rangers, I'd just hang on to Profar, Olt, Perez, Martin.

Now, if it was a fantasy baseball league, I'd be more likely to trade four rookies for Stanton...

Nov 20, 2012 10:06 AM
rating: -1
 
tb3nn3tt

I think the big differences are (1) the inherent risk of young pitchers vs young hitters and (2) the fact that pitchers peak earlier than hitters, so while Stanton may still get better, Pineda may have already peaked.

Also, while Pineda's pre-2012 projections (usually around 150 IP with an ERA around 3 in a pitcher's park) were very good, Stanton's pre-2013 projections (the one's we have so far, anyway) are other-worldly (especially considering he is also in a pitcher's park)...

ZiPS: .286/.367/.606
James: .284/.365/.605
OLIVER: .289/.373/.615

Another reason I think the cost would be astronomical is the fact that literally every team would be in the hunt. The year that Johan Santana and Dan Haren were both traded, Haren brought back a bigger return even though Johan was the best pitcher in the game... It was because the only teams willing to pay Johan were the Sox, Yanks, and Mets. Fewer bidders = lower price. With every team in the game bidding, I think his price would just keep jumping.

If I were the Marlins, I would at least put out feelers. Would Texas give you Profar, Olt/Martin, and Perez?
How about Taveras, Wong, and Miller/Martinez?
Marte, Hanson/Heredia, and Cole/Taillon?
D'Arnaud, Syndergaard, and Sanchez?
Boegarts, Bradley, and Barnes?

My gut feeling is that more than half of those packages still aren't enough.

Most of those teams probably balk at the price, but if one says yes you could get one helluva return.

Nov 20, 2012 17:43 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Pitchers peak earlier than hitters? I'd been under the impression they peak later, especially because they spend a bit longer in the minors building up innings.

In general, it does make sense to me for the Marlins to trade Stanton because they probably won't be competitive by the time Stanton hits free agency. And, while Stanton is a great, perhaps unique talent, I just don't know if a team would be wise to trade all its top prospects, so close to the major leagues, for him.

Nov 21, 2012 07:29 AM
rating: 0
 
NJTomatoes

Fun stuff, one and all.

Nov 19, 2012 19:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Nathan

Baseball Prospectus: the only baseball site where you will read quotes from the blindingly thoughtful G.K. Chesteron.

Nov 22, 2012 22:43 PM
rating: 0
 
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