While Loria may be stuffing his pockets, while Major League Baseball looks the other way, the Marlins have traded away their best, and most expensive, players before and become winners once again. We've seen this movie, read this script, and know the way it works. (If you want a more detailed description of this process, read this article I wrote here) The Marlins recently traded Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays in exchange for a solid catch of prospects. In lieu of this so-called "mega deal", numerous writers, pundits, and fans expect the Marlins to look into trading Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is still signed to his Minor League contract, so he's fairly cheap for a player who'se put up over 13 fWAR in his first 3 seasons in the Major Leagues. Oh, and did I mention he's only 23 years old?
Stanton is a true talent. He's the prototypical power hitting, middle of the order, masher who'se mere presence in the lineup can change the entire opposing team's game plan. He is big, fast, strong, and can hit the ball a mile, but he remains a Marlin. The Marlins have no need to trade Stanton because he's inexpensive, and by far their best current Major League player. On the other hand, following the trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays, Stanton remarked that given the fire sale, he wants to leave the Marlins as soon as he can. Basically, unless the Marlins can put a winning product out on the field in the next 2-3 seasons, Stanton won't even consider signing an extension, let alone, re-signing with the team when he becomes a free agent in 2017. From Stanton's point of view, this is not only reasonable, but necessary. Stanton wants to win and make heaps of cash, but due to his current contract, he won't that kind of money for a few years.
In my opinion, since the Marlins hold all of the cards in this situation, I don't see the team trading Stanton unless GM Michael Hill is blown away by the package in return. Since the team is currently rebuilding, Hill would want to receive top level prospects, at least one of whom is close to MLB ready. Any team that could successfully trade for Stanton would receive a player under team control for the next 4 seasons, who, according to PECOTA, is expected to produce an annual output of 4.1 WARP per season. Since 1 WARP is worth about $7 million dollars, any team paying Stanton under $28 million would be getting solid value.
To get a look at just how good Giancarlo Stanton has been, consider these facts. Since 1945 only three players have hit more home runs in seasons they played in which they were 20-22 years old than Stanton. They are Frank Robinson, Eddie Matthews, and Alex Rodriguez. Only 6 players had a higher wRC+ in the same seasons, and only 16 players had a higher total fWAR than Stanton in those seasons. Most impressively, Stanton had the highest isolated power of any player since 1945 in their 20 year old, 21 year old, and 22 year old seasons combined. Isolated power is slugging percentage minus batting average, and it usually peaks around 25 to 26 years old. At 23 years old, it isn't unreasonable to conclude that Stanton's power numbers could increase, and his high strikeout rate will decrease, making him quite the formidable hitter. Overall, the only current player with whom Stanton is similar is the Braves Jason Heyward, another young bright talent.
So far, the teams that have been linked to Stanton are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, and Chicago Cubs. Each team would likely need to give up its top prospect, as well as 2 others. So, here's what I think these teams would have to give up to procure Stanton from the Marlins.
Red Sox: The Red Sox, like the Marlins are rebuilding, but in a different way. The Red Sox are willing to spend money, are always looking to win, and would love to solidify the middle of their order for years to come by trading for Giancarlo Stanton. If the Red Sox were to lose some top prospects, the team could fill those spots via free agency, or look towards winning in the near future rather than the distant one. The Sox system has some talent, especially after trading away some big contracts to the Dodgers in exchange for mostly prospects. A reasonable trade for Stanton would have to include Matt Barnes, Jackie Bradley, and Ruby De La Rosa, if not more. The only reason I'm not putting Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox top prospect, in the deal is that the Marlins just received a top middle infield prospect in Adeiny Hechavarria from the Blue Jays, which makes Bogaerts less valuable. Even a package like the one I'm proposing might not be enough to sway the Marlins, but those three players could all become above average to dynamic MLB players. I would give the Red Sox 1:30 odds of landing Stanton.
Baltimore Orioles: This situation is vastly different from the first two. The Orioles have recently become viable in the AL East, want to continue that competitiveness, but count on their young players to help, making it more difficult to part with them. For example, the O's brought up top hitting prospect Manny Machado towards the end of 2012 to fill in at third base even though many thought Machado wouldn't be ready for another year. The Orioles currently have the top-pitching prospect in all of Minor League Baseball, Dylan Bundy. His stock will probably never be higher than it is now, but the Orioles would rather bring him up to become the ace of their rotation for the future than trade him. On the other hand, the O's won more than 90 games last season with a mediocre pitching staff, and adding Stanton would give them the power bat they so desperately need in their order. A package of Dylan Bundy and Jason Espisito might coax Miami into moving Stanton, but if the Orioles aren't willing to give up Bundy, they could also offer Jon Schoop, Kevin Gausman, LJ Hoes, and Bobby Bundy, but I doubt even that package would pry Stanton from Miami. If the Orioles are willing to trade Bundy their odds are good, 1:10, but if not, I'd say 1:60 they can acquire Giancarlo.
Overall, I don't think the Marlins are going to trade Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, but given their recent moves, nothing is impossible when it comes to the fish. A dark horse candidate for acquiring Stanton could be the Tampa Bay Rays, given their amount of young pitching, but add in the recent contract extension given to Evan Longoria with Stanton's incoming arbitration eligibility, and the Rays might not be able to afford the right fielder. Also, don't count out the Rangers or Pirates. Stanton has a legitimate reason for requesting a one-way ticket out of Miami, but he's not in a great bargaining position. On the other hand, the Marlins could complete their rebuilding process by trading Stanton and acquiring 3-4 more prospects. One thing is for sure, never say never when dealing with the Marlins.