The Dodgers Control the Giancarlo Stanton Sweepstakes

I think we all understand the present circumstances. The Marlins are trying to trade Giancarlo Stanton in order to clear payroll, and they’ve reached general agreements with both the Cardinals and the Giants. From the Cardinals, the Marlins would get talent and salary relief. From the Giants, the Marlins would get talent and salary relief. There are differences, obviously, but right now you’d think there are only these two finalists. Stanton has full no-trade protection, but he doesn’t want to stick around where he is, and so we’re getting to a decision point. Stanton will soon need to pick St. Louis or San Francisco.

Or neither. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but Stanton grew up and played high-school ball around Los Angeles. We’re not familiar with Stanton’s actual thoughts, but the consensus opinion is that Stanton’s ideal outcome would be a trade to the Dodgers. To this point, we haven’t heard much about the Dodgers’ trade interest. Stanton wouldn’t be the type of add they typically make. And yet, here we are. The Dodgers continue to loom over this whole thing.

Giancarlo Stanton? Stanton has plenty of leverage. But so do the Dodgers. The Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes are unusual, but so is this situation, with Stanton effectively able to hold out until he gets what he wants.

I’m far from the first person to get here. Buster Olney wrote about Stanton’s leverage on November 21. Grant Brisbee wrote about the Dodgers’ position on November 28. The Dodgers have been right there from the beginning, even though rumors of their strong interest haven’t leaked. The Dodgers certainly don’t look eager, in the press. But they also haven’t ruled anything out. The Dodgers have painted themselves as a possibility, and it stands to reason that’s why Stanton is technically still professional property of the Marlins.

Given where the Marlins are, I don’t think Stanton wants to go back. He would presumably prefer either the Cardinals or the Giants. But if his strong preference were to join the Dodgers, then there’s no reason for him to accept anything yet. If the Dodgers might get involved, well, why should Stanton be in any rush? And, for their own part, why should the Dodgers be in any rush? They don’t need very much. They’re already a finalist for Ohtani. The Dodgers benefit from effectively holding up everything else. Other teams want to get more business done, but the Dodgers can keep the market in limbo.

The Dodgers have decisions to make. I’m going to guess they’ve already made most of them. How much do they want Stanton? How much of an improvement would he be? Would his destination have any bearing at all on Ohtani’s frame of mind? Might the Dodgers actually want Stanton to end up with the Giants, at or around the rumored cost? Might the Dodgers prefer the Giants be so burdened? There’s a chance there, although the Dodgers also would understand that Stanton would make them better right away. Not by a full five or six wins, but by a few wins, at least. Get Stanton now and the Dodgers could sit out the whole Bryce Harper circus in a year. It’s hard to turn down a Stanton, when one is available. The Dodgers could make it work.

The key bit of information here is that Stanton can basically dictate where he goes. The key speculation is that Stanton would prefer the Dodgers over anyone else. The other key speculation is that the Marlins are sufficiently motivated to move Stanton now, instead of having to clear payroll by other means. That would be more challenging for them to do, and Stanton would also spend the whole next year as an unhappy reigning MVP. It’s a situation any team would like to avoid. The Marlins are toxic, ever more so when trying to reduce the payroll by tens of millions of dollars.

Rumors of the Cardinals’ offer have floated. So have rumors of the Giants’ offer. I don’t know how accurate they are, but they seem sensible and logical enough. If the Dodgers decide they don’t want Stanton, they can just back away and let him make his decision. But if, alternatively, the Dodgers decide they’d like a more powerful outfield, they can express their interest. And, critically, they wouldn’t have to match the Cardinals or Giants’ offers. Not if Stanton actually wants to play in Los Angeles more than anything else. Then it would be almost all up to Stanton and the Dodgers, because Stanton could simply tell the Marlins he’ll accept nothing else. He can force the Marlins to choose between an underwhelming Dodgers offer and bringing an unhappy Stanton back. That wouldn’t guarantee a Dodgers trade happens, but it would be the most likely scenario.

The Marlins have said they don’t want to take a bad contract or two back. They might not have a choice, because the Dodgers are also reportedly motivated to drop below the competitive-balance-tax threshold. The Dodgers could achieve that by sending the Marlins short-term dead weight. And while I don’t think the Dodgers could get away with not offering the Marlins anything appealing at all, they wouldn’t need to match the other prospect packages. They’d need to offer just enough to convince the Marlins to suck it up. They’d need to offer just enough for the Marlins to prefer the offer over the fallout from Stanton sticking around. Moving Stanton is by far the easiest way for the Marlins to help their financial situation. They might not want to think about the alternatives. They don’t have many alternatives.

Stanton controls this, which we can take to mean the Dodgers also control this. Because of how the leverage here is distributed, it makes sense that Stanton would be available to the Dodgers for a lower cost than the one that would be charged to the Cardinals and Giants. It’s not often you see trade negotiations that are so lopsided in one team’s favor, but this is something teams just have to accept when they give out no-trade clauses. Players earn those clauses, and they’re free to use them however they like. Usually, circumstances aren’t so complicated. But it seems like Stanton wants Los Angeles. Which essentially would leave this up to Los Angeles. If they want him, they ought to be able to get him, for a rather underwhelming return. The Marlins wouldn’t be happy, but even though they’re the ones with their finger on the trigger, it’s hardly their decision to make. Their power here is woefully limited.

Ideally, the Marlins wouldn’t operate this way. Ideally, the Marlins would be a legitimate operation, just like anyone else. It would be great if Stanton were happy where he is, because that would be better for baseball. But the Marlins continue to be a tire fire, and it’s seldom better for a team to trade an MVP. If the Dodgers allow, Stanton will shortly elect to join the Cardinals or the Giants. And if the Dodgers allow, Stanton will shortly become a part of their own impressive core.





Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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thestatbook
4 years ago

I disagree with the notion that Stanton gets to dictate where he goes. He has a lot of leverage, BUT he cannot force the Marlins to accept a lousy trade.

If the Dodgers are the only team remaining and don’t offer something to Miami’s liking, they could just keep him. Stanton has to be careful not to overplay his hand.

I mean, how comical would it be if the Marlins said, “screw it, we’ll keep him.”

thestatbook
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

I guess if I’m the Marlins, I call Stanton’s bluff.

If the Dodgers don’t match the offers on the table, all they have to tell Stanton is that LA isn’t an option. Obviously, it might not be the best for Miami, but neither is leaving great options on the table to take a significantly worse one.

I really think Stanton waiting for LA would be to overplay his hand here. At some point, Miami could decide to pivot, and Stanton is the real loser.

tramps like us
4 years ago
Reply to  thestatbook

LA could string it along, too, not give Stanton a definitive answer. They’ll do what is in their best interests, just like everyone else in this equation. Besides, Stanton could always change his mind later, accept a trade somewhere up the road if his first choice (LA) doesn’t negotiate in good faith. Long-term, staying in Miami is not much of an option, but short term it would be a good strategy for him if he doesn’t like his choices.

Jovins
4 years ago
Reply to  thestatbook

I’m not sure the Marlins can afford to call his bluff, literally.

jmsdean477
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

Hey Jeff I was wondering your thoughts on the fallout from the eventual Ohtani signing. I feel like MLB really shat the bed on this one, and there are only a few outcomes that work well for them moving forward. I feel like by not finding a way to exempt him from the intl. bonus rules, and let him sign for market value, they have put everyone else involved in a terrible situation.

As an A’s fan its annoying to me that the Giants are finalists, because of the colosseum being the main drag on the A’s pitch, and the Giants obvious attempts to stall any attempt by Oak to stay in the bay in a real ballpark. On top of that almost every other ALW team is on the list, and I was just starting to look forward to the A’s with there sneaky good, deep farm, and cheap young core developing overrunning the aging expensive teams in Sea/Tex/Ana with there diminished farms, and grinding up against the Astros the next several seasons as it gets costlier to keep that team together. I SO! hope he signs in SD! I feel like he will single handedly change the fortunes of a ball club, by adding sooooo much surplus value, and its literally a lottery for 200+mm potential value going to 1 team out of 30 for about 30-50mm over 6 years. Out of the few remaining options I wouldn’t want the Dodgers to get him, because come on thats not fair, and I personally dislike the Cubs until the Trump loving Ricketts are run out of town, so no matter how you slice it most options aren’t good. Its Ohtani brings meaningful baseball back to SD for the first time in a while, which I can get behind, or a player I very much respect who under neutral circumstances I would love to see succeed in every facet of the game, will literally needle me with every thing he does that helps a rival.

I believe all this would have been avoided if he was an unrestricted FA, since then a team would have been ponying up somewhere near his potential market value, along with all the greater risks, and cost factors baked in. If he signs for 6/180 a team is putting real assets on the line and is more deserving of a positive outcome. Doing a 30 team raffle where nobody pays close to what he’s worth, and there is only one Ohtani seems utterly ludicrous to me, and a nightmare down the road.

I feel that fans from teams in the same division will despise him for what he does to the odds in the race. If he’s a superstar its the worst outcome PR wise, because a 500k Superstar you did nothing to develop is BS. If he flops nobody cares, but if the Dodgers grab Stanton and get Ohtani for no money, say reset the luxury tax while adding 13-15 WAR with a breakout from both, there will be hell to pay, and a cry of unfair advantages from 29 other fanbases. I think SD snagging a WC where Ohtani wins the WC game, but the team is bumped in the division series is the least objectionable outcome, and thats only thinking short term where the longer he drives his team to success for well below market rates the more resentment will build, through no fault of his own, other then a desire to not wait to come play MLB games.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, I just started realizing the other day as this silly trickle comes in of who gets the rose and who doesn’t in “The Ohtani Bachelor” show, that this is going to piss a lot of people off eventually, and it could be sooner rather then later. As with reality TV people get angry about outcomes, and this is “The Decision”, on steroids. I have so much respect for Ohtani on a player and personal level, and I hate how much I now am hoping he flops into an elite reliever and below average PH, based on the number of negative probable outcomes in his remaining destinations. MLB/MLBPA made a big fuckup on this one, since if Ohtani really is what were all dreaming of then its just plain and simply unfair. No development, no investment relatively speaking, and a player with the upside of greater value then Mike Trout by a not insignificant margin if he’s really 5 tools on both sides. The better Ohtani is, the worse it could be for baseball, unfortunately.

free-range turducken
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

Hey Jeff, I know you’re too busy to read that 300,000 word comment, so let me summarize. How bad does it suck to be an A’s fan?

jmsdean477
4 years ago

No room for complex thought anymore? Just keep it to 140 characters I guess. Oh wait were allowed to have thoughts that are as big as 260 now! πŸ˜‰

tramps like us
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

Usually this quote is attributed to Samuel Clemens, but it’s apt no matter wrote it: “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

Your “complex thought” is not complex; it’s poorly written, self-indulgent and repetitive, and to call it rambling is a severe understatement. Other than that, it was pretty good.

jmsdean477
4 years ago

Also how busy baseball wise is he really? I got mad love for Jeff he’s my favorite baseball writer since he can take almost any subject and make it an interesting worthwhile read, and he has some very interesting out of the box ideas to write about.

We are however in the offseason, in the slowest offseason I can remember, so whats a few minutes while we wait for the winter meetings to bring some real action!

tramps like us
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

I’m glad that you know your buddy Jeff so well that you know exactly what is on his to-do list.

Knoblaublah
4 years ago

It’s actually a great comment. 29 teams are going to wish that Ohtani was able to sign for market value.

free-range turducken
4 years ago
Reply to  Knoblaublah

@Knoblaublah – agreed. Even though the comment wasn’t directly related to the actual article, jmsdean makes a very good point. Maybe worth an article all to itself. Also, something similar could be said about the fan’s reactions to the outcome of the “Giancarlo Bachelor” show.

Ukranian to Vietnamese to French is back
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

Yes, Jeff, I’m asking for your thoughts about the fall’s signature Ohtania. I think MLB really cares about this issue to bed, and only a few scores and progress. I have a feeling that I cannot find a way to get rid of it on the Internet. The bonus rules and allow you to apply a market value, putting people in terrible situations.

As a fan, I remember when the Giants on the final phase, because the impact on the ground, and in efforts to clear the Giants had to give up on trying to stay in the Bay of hakea. Composite. In addition, most of the teams from other lists VLT, and I just hope has started development of a team of young, dark, deep and not expensive, too expensive for sea/time. /Out, zoom to the farm and were on their way to the Astros next year, because it is very expensive to this group. I’ve been here. I hope to connect SD! I think this will change the destiny of the Club to that Chamber, to add more value, but that is the alignment for the 200 mm + potential value goes to the Group of 30 per cent to about 30-50 mm for 6 years. In a few other options, I would not be Dod?erse, because that’s not fair, but personally I don’t like when fans Cubs Trump points out of town, so that no matter what will take care of most of the features it doesn’t have to be good. First, Ohtani’s baseball security in SD, how can I get or a player who has a lot of respect when in neutral items I want to see success in all aspects. The game, which would mean iglomiti all to help your opponent.

I think this would be avoided if the OS is not limited to, the team sometimes offered somewhere in the value of their potential market, with all the main risk and cost factors. Costs are cooked. If you sign up for 6/80, that would put the property in the game and deserve a positive results. Played 30 solid competition, that no one would pay close to what that’s worth, and it looks like a nightmare Ohtani and squashed.

I think that the fans of the teams in the same contempt for what’s in the race. If the super star, this is the worst result of PR, because he’s a superstar like that, they don’t do anything to develop in BS. If on the flop, no one cares, but if the Dodgers are Ohtanija Stanton and received no money, for example, to restore a tax on a tax, even 13-15 on Saturday with two breaks, it will be hell and cries of unfair advantage in 29 other fans. I think SD captured VC where Ohtani won the VC, but teams are involved in a wide range of results is less controversial, but I just think that in the short term, while he was driving his team to success. Well below the market price so much resentment will build without errors, then I look forward to not having to wait for the match, MLB.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue, I don’t understand the other day, when he showed up that monster to silence the Commission and who does not show the “Ohtani Bachelor” shows that this is the last person has nothing to do, and that’s before, and then, like with reality tv , people are upset with the results, and that the “decision” on steroids. Ohtanija player on a personal level, and I hate how much I hope now that this will rise to Canon Middle class and below the median PH, based on the number of negative results, you can replace the MLBPA/MLBPA opportunity Well here, because if people really Ohtani dream of easy and j easy. Development without the relative investment and the player with the highest value of Mike trout are the best officers, if there’s 5 tricks on both sides. Baseball, unfortunately

jmsdean477
4 years ago

Does that Hateraid taste good? I know Im onto something as well since despite the haters nobody has refuted any of my points, which detailed my personal viewpoint to illustrate why I was thinking about it.

free-range turducken
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

@jmsdean477 – no hate intended. I just thought the “Hey Jeff” part was funny because of your long comment.

Especially when Jeff is too busy to ever respond to one of my comments πŸ™

thestatbook
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

Jeff’s article- 1,192 words.
This comment- 777.

ThomServo
4 years ago
Reply to  thestatbook

more than 900 words critiquing the comment and adding nothing else fyi.

tb.25
4 years ago
Reply to  jmsdean477

You lost legitimacy when you began to blame the Giants for an agreement the A’s willingly signed and supported.

And 1,000+ words on a comment section (not a forum) drove everybody away.

Graves
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan
outinleftfield
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

That is an erroneous assumption. The Marlins do not have to trade Stanton at all. They PREFER to trade him than their young core, but they have already said publicly that they are willing to keep Stanton and trade away Ozuna, Yelich, Gordon, Prado, and others to meet their payroll target.

Because Stanton has said publicly that he does not want to stay for a rebuild, and staying would mean a complete tear down around him, the leverage is on the side of the Marlins. They can be relatively certain that he will opt out after 2020 if he stays in a Marlins uniform especially if he plays anywhere close to your performance projections for him and they can be absolutely sure he will opt out if he repeats 2017. In addition, they can trade him again mid-season or next offseason if they don’t get the package they want now to a team he will accept.

tramps like us
4 years ago
Reply to  outinleftfield

At the risk of being obvious, there’s a poker game in play and Miami saying they’re willing to keep Stanton is just part of that. I don’t think you should give it much weight. They want and need him gone to to get started on their vision.

Paul22
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

See how Stanton enjoys 3 months next season without being surrounded by some of the Marlins good young hitters who get traded off for prospects or packages where they unload some undesirable big contracts because Stanton would not approve a deal. He will be screaming to be traded anywhere by the deadline with much less leverage. Make him go on long bus rides in ST to help change his mind

Dave T
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

I can see another path to cutting payroll to under $90 million for 2019, which is reportedly the Marlins’ goal. Stanton, by the way, doesn’t get them all the way there. Cot’s shows the Marlins 2018 payroll at $107 million without Stanton. Stanton is the cleanest and easiest path to cutting payroll due to his long-term guarantee. Here’s a combination of three other trades, though, that reduce 2018 payroll to $77 million:

– Trade Gordon ($10.8 million for 2018). Perhaps some team (e.g., the Blue Jays) sees Gordon’s remaining 3/ $39 as a basically fair value contract. No return of any note, but the money is cleared. Per my point above, I think he’s likely gone even if Stanton is traded.

– Trade Ozuna packaged with Ziegler ($19.9 million for 2018). Ozuna’s 2018 arb estimate of $19.9 million is per MLB Trade Rumors. Ziegler is paid above market at $9 million, but he’s not useless so that’s not all dead money. Ozuna’s final two arb years should still have surplus value packaged with Ziegler. The Giants or Cardinals are logical trade partners for this deal if Stanton isn’t moved.

– Trade Yelich packaged with Chen and Tazawa ($24 million for 2018). Yelich’s team-friendly 4 year contract plus a 2022 option has massive surplus value as he’s a 4 WAR player and 26 years old. Chen’s remaining 3 / $52 is way underwater, maybe all dead money if his medicals are bad enough. Tazawa is also almost a pure salary dump as a reclamation project for someone. Yelich should still have surplus value that nets a prospect return with these contracts, though obviously the return is reduced. The Cardinals should be interested in this deal if they aren’t a partner for the Ozuna trade. Several rebuilding teams with payroll room (Phillies, Padres, White Sox) could also be logical trade partners since Yelich offers so many years of team control.

That would leave the Marlins’ 2018 payroll at $77 million. Stanton’s $26 million is the only contract on the books for 2020, plus arb salaries. Volquez’s $13 million is gone after 2018, which he’ll miss due to TJ surgery this August. Or maybe he’s moved in place of Ziegler or Tazawa in one of the various possible trade combinations, or packaged with Realmuto or Bour (each have 3 arb years of control) for a lesser prospect return. Prado has 2 / $28.5 remaining. Prado was a 3+ win player as recently as 2016, so perhaps most of that remaining money can be moved during this season if he shows that he’s healthy and productive.

Granted, it’s pretty much a full teardown. But I think that the Marlins’ justify a full teardown, because this team was a bit below .500 even with Stanton. They have a poorly-ranked farm system and don’t have the revenue to try to spend their way to contention. To stop at just trading Stanton (or something like just Stanton and Gordon) seems foolish as it leaves them with a team unlikely to be a contender any time soon.

outinleftfield
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave T

Don’t forget that Volquez contract has insurance that pays 70% of the $13 million. Prado can be moved as long as the Marlins are willing to eat 30-50% of that contract.

Hughesmember
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave T

On Gordon – While he would’ve probably been a great fit for the Jays, because boy do they have no one who profiles like him, I doubt they’re going to acquire him after getting Diaz from the Cardinals.

Jays have more pressing needs, like another quality outfielder or starter or bullpen guy. Though maybe eat some money and send Morales back and cycle guys through the DH.

channelclemente
4 years ago
Reply to  Hughes

I wonder if that artificial surface in Toronto figured into the thinking of potential infielders.

Dominikk85member
4 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Sullivan

Problem ist if jeter Comes back with anything less than two top100 prospects (which is basically the giants best offer) he will be more hated than loria.

trading stanton for a middling offer would cripple the Franchise. are the marlins that greedy?

tramps like us
4 years ago
Reply to  Dominikk85

Have to disagree, many if not most fans understand what’s happening and why, and they’re so happy to see Loria gone that they’re going to give Jeter some leeway. Of course they love Stanton, but the good of the team is the bigger issue and most fans will get that.

jdbolick
4 years ago
Reply to  tramps like us

I imagine that Marlins fans will be pretty upset about yet another teardown, especially one that looks to be purely about reducing costs for no reason other than the amount of debt that the new owners took on to finance their bid. The Jeter crew has already gotten an awful lot of bad press recently about their staff firings, particularly the scout with cancer.

Dave T
4 years ago
Reply to  jdbolick

@jdlbolick – while I think that the new ownership group was foolish to pay $1.2 billion for the team and then institute this teardown without explaining their long-term plan, reasonably estimated outside numbers say that debt involved with the bid isn’t the driving factor here. Reports I’ve read say that the deal didn’t actually add debt to the team: the group “will assume $100 million in the team’s debt and is restructuring an additional $300 million of the club’s debt”, meaning that the debt was already there. ( https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2017/09/28/jeter-4-percent-stake-in-marlins-who-will-have-400m-debt/106092674/ )

I take owner claims of big operating losses with a grain of salt, but they make sense here.

Forbes’ revenue estimates put the Marlins’ revenue at basically the same as the Rays for 2016. That makes sense, because the Marlins have basically the lowest revenue local TV contract of any team ( https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/estimated-tv-revenues-for-all-30-mlb-teams/ ). They were bottom 3 in attendance for 2017, ahead of only the A’s and the Rays.

Over the last few years, the Rays’ opening day 25-man payroll has been around $65 to $75 million. The A’s, who have about $20 million more in local TV revenue than the Marlins, have been around $80 to $85 million.

Cot’s had the Marlins at a bit over $130 million of opening day payroll for 2018, including arb estimates, before they traded Gordon. There just isn’t any reason based on the outside observations that I’ve listed to think that the Marlins’ revenue could support that payroll without big operating losses. And it really wouldn’t get any better in 2019 because backloaded dollars in contracts and expected arb raises would offset dropping the contracts of Volquz, Ziegler, and Tazawa after 2018.

Between this payroll structure (including contracts that look underwater) and what might be the worst minor league system in baseball, it’s a team that really should be a prime candidate to do a full teardown and rebuild and target contending a few years out.

jdbolick
4 years ago
Reply to  Dave T

But they aren’t tearing down for prospects, they are tearing down to save money, and Jeff Sullivan’s polling results demonstrate that Marlins fans are furious. Dominikk85 appears to be correct.

krinks
4 years ago
Reply to  thestatbook

The Pirates did this and are doing this with Andrew McCutcheon. Why not the Marlins?