The story of the offseason has developed yet another layer.
The ongoing Giancarlo Stanton trade saga took another turn on Friday. It was always well known Stanton's ironclad no-trade clause could cause problems as the Miami Marlins tried to trade him and his albatross of a contract, and more information has become available as to how thorny things might get.
Now the list of teams he would accept has now been at least partially revealed—and it contains neither of the teams with whom the Marlins reportedly have deals worked out.
The list revealed
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (h/t to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports), the list of teams Stanton would accept a trade stands at four: the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, or Houston Astros.
Notably absent from that list are the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants—both of whom have worked out the framework of a deal with the Marlins in the last week. Unfortunately for them, nothing can happen without Stanton's say-so, and it seems like he's not entirely ready to move on from his top choices. With the deals largely worked out, if Stanton wanted to be a Giant or a Cardinal he would probably already be one.
Shooting for the moon
The problem here for Stanton is that all of his preferred destinations are highly unrealistic.
The Yankees currently have five outfielders vying for spots in the starting lineup. More importantly, they're trying hard to get their payroll under the luxury tax threshold before next year's bumper crop of free agents, which will likely include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Clayton Kershaw, hit the market. It would take a lot of payroll wrangling in order for Stanton's massive contract to fit into that plan, and would likely involve the Marlins taking on a big contract like Jacoby Ellsbury's—something that seems out of the question for a team prioritizing shedding payroll.
The Dodgers have a similar logjam in the outfield in terms of depth. While Yasiel Puig might be a good trade chip in return, especially with how well his Cuban heritage will play in Miami, there would still be too many players for too many spots. They might be the most amenable to taking on his contract, but it's still not a good fit.
Stanton would be an upgrade to Josh Reddick in right field for the Astros, but that organization's philosophy skews against taking on massive contracts. Taking on Justin Verlander's deal was considered a big departure for them, and taking on Stanton's seems highly unlikely.
The final contenders (if that's what we want to call them), the Cubs, are in the same boat as the Dodgers in that there really isn't a spot for him unless a massive contract like Jason Heyward's is traded. Stanton would represent an upgrade in their outfield, but would he fit into Theo Epstein's plans?
It's always been assumed that Stanton's preferred destination is Los Angeles. He's a California boy and grew up rooting for the Dodgers. According to Jon Morosi, he seems inclined to wait until he knows with certainty whether the Dodgers would plan to get themselves into the mix before truly considering any alternatives.
But Stanton is running a risky game here. We've already covered here the fact that the Marlins have issued an ultimatum to Stanton that if he rids his no-trade clause too hard, he'll stay in Miami and have the team dismantled around him. The trade of Dee Gordon to Seattle has already started that process. It wouldn't be surprising if that deal was a deliberate shot across Stanton's bow to remind him that if he pushes his luck, he'll be playing on a glorified Triple-A team in 2018.
Stanton needs to realize that his list, at least in the form it's in now, is pie in the sky. He has deals with two teams that can be competitive as soon as next year. He may certainly use his no-trade clause as he sees fit, but it might not be the best thing for his career to stick to his guns.