The Miami Marlins have recently stated that they’re willing to listen to offers on disgruntled outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. That’s not to say they will trade him or that they’re even actively shopping him, but it’s the first time the club has publicly stated openness to dealing their lone superstar.
This would be different from a fire sale. Stanton won’t be arbitration eligible until next offseason and still has four years of team control remaining where he’ll be providing his services at a deep, deep discount. He may be unhappy with the way the organization handled their business this offseason, and he may eventually be unwilling to negotiate a long-term deal to stay in south Florida, but there’s really nothing he can do about any of it in the short term. If Miami decides they want to hang onto him then he’s stuck for four more years. He could decide to dog it if they don’t agree to trade him, but being tagged as a problem child putting up poor numbers on purpose wouldn’t help him in the salary arbitration process, nor would it be good for his future free agent negotiations.
The Marlins don’t need to trade Stanton like they needed (in some sense) to unload the higher-priced players. It would anger the fan base in the same way, but it wouldn’t help payroll one iota. They would be doing it to raid another organization’s farm system in the hopes of turning one Stanton into two. Or, rather, to turn one Stanton into two or three above average pieces who would also be cost-controlled for a number of years.
And we’re probably not talking about players who would be three or four years away from the big leagues. The Marlins are likely looking for a handful of highly-rated players who are no more than a year away from being Major League regulars. For example, ESPN’s Jim Bowden recommended that the Texas Rangers might trade Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez, and Mike Olt for Stanton (and Ricky Nolasco). Those three prospects were all rated in the Top-100 by Baseball America (numbers 7, 31, and 43 respectively) prior to last season (and each carried an ETA of 2013). That’s a huge haul, and one the Tigers likely couldn’t match.
Detroit has one Top-100 prospect from a year ago, Nick Castellanos, but the club is thin on top-tier talent after that. Avisail Garcia might be in the Top-100 mix this next year, I really have no idea, (Baseball America hasn’t released their list for 2013 yet), but the closest the Tigers could come to Profar, Perez, and Olt would be Castellanos, Garcia, and Bruce Rondon. That package probably doesn’t come close to competing with any (hypothetical) deal involving Profar, and it’s almost certainly not a package the Marlins would accept.
Stanton would be worth something like $25 million in surplus value for next season alone, and probably something in the neighborhood of $70 million (today’s dollars) of surplus through the 2016 season. I don’t know that the Tigers could come up with equivalent value if they offered up their entire farm system.
Trades aren’t simply player for player, they’re value for value. Stanton, as a pre-arbitration MVP caliber player, has a ton of value. Only the deepest of farm systems could put together a package for him, and the Tigers have nothing like the deepest of systems.