“It’s a Two Team Race”–Nightengale

While the recent General Manager meetings didn’t result in the trading of Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, there was some clarification of who is a pretender and who will be a contender moving forward.

“The difference is the Cardinals and Giants were the two teams that talked the most to the Marlins,” points out USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “I don’t believe for a second that Stanton goes anywhere else except for San Francisco, St. Louis, or back to Miami next year. I don’t think any other teams are for real. The Dodgers aren’t paying that money. The Red Sox don’t want to have that luxury tax. It’s a two team race.”

Not surprised by lack of trades, Nightengale expects teams to begin making deals over the next couple of weeks heading into the Winter Meetings which begin on December 10th.

“Say a case like Stanton–it’s a brand new ownership, some new guys in the front office,” said Nightengale. “They need to see what this guy’s worth and what he would actually bring. There’s no reason in the world to jump out to some quick decision and trade this guy. You don’t need to trade him until Opening Day.”

Entering 2018, Stanton will see his salary jump from $14.5 to $25 million. He will be owed a minimum of $295 million through 2028 if he does not opt out of his contract. Stanton will be 38 years old at that time.

As for what Miami may be able to command in exchange for the NL MVP, a sliding scale of money or players would be required is coming into play.

“I think what people forget is just how much money that is,” said Nightengale. “In a sense where this guy was put on waivers in August. Anybody in baseball could’ve claimed him on waivers–would’ve had to assume the $295 million, you wouldn’t have had to give up a single player. But nobody wanted to take on that risk. So what teams are telling the Marlins now, hey we’ll give you a player here or a player there but the more money you want us to pay, the less you’re going to get back.

“So for instance, if the Giants and Cardinals are willing to pay at least 200 of the 295, you’re giving some fringe prospects back. You’re certainly not giving up a number one through five prospect. I don’t see any way in the world the Cardinals give up a Top 5 prospect unless the Marlins are eating about half of that salary–and that’s not going to happen.”

The Marlins keeping that much salary would in effect defeat the purpose of dealing Stanton.

“Absolutely,” agreed Nightengale. “Their big thing is to just save more money–getting that money off the books. You get that money off the books you can buy 10 different players and throw all kinds of money into international pool and stuff like that, get yourself prospects. I think Marlins fans will go ballistic when they find out what they actually get back, because it’s not going to be much.”

The Cardinals were also rumored to be in discussions with Tampa over some of their pitchers–in particular closer and starter Chris Archer. That kind of deal would be very different than one for Stanton.

“I think a guy like Chris Archer, his contract is very team-friendly, that would cost a ton,” said Nightengale. “Now you’re talking about some top prospects there. I’m not saying you have to give up Reyes, but right behind Reyes. That sort of thing. He’s got a lot of value to him.

“They’re not looking to save money, they want more prospects back. The Cardinals have them, but they have so many good ones coming, it’s the envy of teams. It’s like when they let go of Derek Lilliquist as the pitching coach, every pitching coach in the world was applying for a job because everybody thinks the Cardinals are a goldmine, that this franchise is coming. I think the window is closing a lot faster than people think in Chicago. Why give these guys away? I think they hang on to them. Add a starter, add a closer, add a power bat, and then go on their way. They’re sitting pretty right now.”

photo credit: Jeff Curry, Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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