Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is having a career season, yet team management seems hell bent on trading him and the 10 years and $295 million remaining on his contract.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports seems to think trading Stanton is the right idea so he can not only potentially play for a contender, but ease the burden on the Marlins’ payroll for the foreseeable future.
No disrespect to Passan, but trading Stanton is both unrealistic and an awful idea. Yes, Passan mentioned four teams as being interested in Stanton, but unloading that contract without paying a majority of the balance is a Herculean task that not even the best front office executive can do.
Stanton should remain in Miami for now, at least until the new owners lay the groundwork for what they want to do to build a winning team.
The primary reason for the Marlins to keep Stanton is attendance. The team ranks 28th in average attendance this year, and ranking at or near the bottom of the barrel in that department has sadly become par for the course during Jeffrey Loria’s ownership.
Stanton, who finally appears to be healthy this year and is batting .283 with an MLB-best 43 home runs, is the biggest reason that fans continue to show up to Marlins Park. His tape measure home runs turned him into a household name years ago and, at just 27 years old, he already has 251 career homers. He is batting an astounding .367 this month and has 10 home runs in August.
That said, Stanton’s great play comes at a price. His salary for this year is $14.5 million, and he will earn $77 million over the next three seasons. He can opt out after 2020 and potentially leave $208 million on the table.
Stanton is worth every penny of that money even if he has dealt with several injuries in the past. Yes, his contract could hamstring Miami’s front office, but there are ways around that. The fact remains that he is a draw and should be treated as such.
The future of Stanton
Now, it’s important to note that it was just last week that Jeffrey Loria agreed to sell the Marlins for $1.2 billion to an ownership group that included both former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and six-time NBA champion (and Charlotte Hornets owner) Michael Jordan, with Florida financial mogul Bruce Sherman covering most of the cost.
Jeter is expected to be the face of baseball operations and given how he played for 20 years, he knows exactly how talented Stanton is. Even he has to know how important Stanton is to the team in spite of his price tag. That said, rather than try to unload Stanton’s heavy contract, the new Marlins ownership should instead look to deal pieces like Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, both of whom bring a lot to the table.
Yelich is not only a lefty bat who can hit for average and decent power, but he is also two years younger than Stanton and has just $43.5 million remaining on a $49.5 million extension he signed a few years back. Yelich also has a Gold Glove to his name.
Similarly, Ozuna is a year younger than Stanton and has broken out more this year to the tune of a .303 batting average with a career-high 27 home runs and 89 RBI. What makes him all the more attractive to other teams, however, is that he has two years of arbitration left.
The long and short of it is that if the Marlins’ new ownership want to get in the fans’ good graces, the following has to be done. Stanton has to be retained while Yelich and Ozuna are both dealt for both MLB-ready prospects and some veteran talent so that a successful team can be built around Stanton.
With Stanton not showing any signs of slowing down, he’ll likely opt out of his contract in a few years and seek an even more lucrative contract even if the Marlins look stronger as a team.
The Marlins’ new owners deserve a team that can be moulded in the best way possible and with Stanton outside of Miami, that becomes a lot harder.
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