The Giancarlo Stanton trade sweepstakes are getting hot and the Miami Marlins may have an idea of how to move forward. According to Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports, the St. Louis Cardinals have emerged as the Marlins' preferred trade partner in talks for the home run hitter. Heyman reported earlier this month that the Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies were the favorites to land Stanton.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals are the ideal landing spot for Stanton if winning is his first priority, but his full no-trade clause makes a move to St. Louis difficult. Simply put, he needs to approve the move if terms are agreed upon.
Why other cities are out
Heyman reported that a key reason Stanton may want out of Miami is that he doesn't want to go through another rebuild, so that could already eliminate the Phillies. Yes, Philadelphia is a major market and has the prospects and money necessary to put a trade together, but they're still finding their footing after finishing last in the NL East. Despite a bright future, Stanton wants to be on a team immediately ready to compete.
A move to San Francisco could make sense, especially since Stanton is a California native. The Giants finished last in the NL West last year, but keep in mind they are only a few years removed from winning the World Series. The lost 2017 season was primarily due to underachieving and injuries to key players, so Stanton could find himself in a prime spot in the Bay Area. San Francisco could have a hard time putting together a return package for Miami, but their being able to pay Stanton with minimal help from Miami could also be a factor.
Just the same, the Giants share a division with the defending NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers, not to mention young Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies teams on the rise, so Stanton could be hesitant to approve a move to San Francisco in spite of his California roots.
Selling the Midwest
Now, though the Cardinals may not be Stanton's ideal location, a move to St. Louis is the best for him if winning is his first priority. The Cardinals missed the playoffs in 2017 and finished third in the NL Central, but let's not forget that they were in the race for the second NL Wild Card until the final days of the regular season. This is also a team that has made an art out of using its minor league system to its advantage. Of all the primary position players on St. Louis' roster last season, all but two came up with the team as prospects before becoming everyday players.
Because of this practice, the Cardinals have become a team that doesn't rely on the free agent or trade markets to build winning teams. If a regular player gets hurt and goes on the disabled list, someone is called up from the minors and steps in as though the injury never happened. This approach has resulted in three World Series appearances, two of which were won, five NL Central titles, and seven trips to the playoffs since 2006.
Make no mistake, the Cardinals would be a great landing spot for Giancarlo Stanton. Not only would he be on a team that regularly contends for a championship, but he would also become St. Louis' most feared slugger since Albert Pujols. It also helps that the Cardinals have the young pitching the Marlins seek in any return package. Be it Alex Reyes (4-1, 1.57 ERA), Jack Flaherty (14-4, 2.18 ERA at Double and Triple-A), or even Luke Weaver (7-2, 3.88 ERA), the pieces are there to make a deal with Miami.
Though no major traction has been reported yet, the St. Louis Cardinals emerging as a front-runner puts the ball squarely in Stanton's court. He controls his destiny in this situation and needs to decide what he cares about more: staying on a team that will constantly try to unload his salary or approving a trade to a team that will put him in a position to win a World Series ring soon despite not being in a preferred location.
The Midwest could be a hard sell on the California boy but from a winning standpoint, the Cardinals are the best team for him.