So there's a story out there that talks between the Red Sox and Marlins surrounding Giancarlo Stanton are "heating up". As Dan O'Mara points out on Twitter this report is incredibly vague, but it's noteworthy nonetheless. Stanton rumors have been constant since the World Series ended and hey, when there's smoke there's typically fire. Plus the new Marlins ownership (Derek Jeter!) actually seems committed to slashing payroll.
I don't believe this latest Red Sox report means it's likely Stanton is coming to Boston, but I think the collection of Stanton rumors from the past couple of weeks mean it IS LIKELY he gets traded this off-season. Jon Morosi reports that the favorites to make a move for the 27-year-old Home Run champ are Boston (the Dombrowski factor), St. Louis (has the best prospects), San Francisco (needs to make a splash), and Philadelphia (what the hell?)
The GM meetings start on Monday, so expect a lot more breaking news on the subject next week. It's tempting for Sox fans to get excited about him, but shouldn't we stop and ask ourselves if this is actually a good idea? Let's take a look.
Why we SHOULD trade for Stanton:
Well, he's Giancarlo Stanton. He's the best home run hitter in baseball (sorry Yankee fans). He hit 59 (!!!) dingers last year. He has game changing power. Maybe even season changing power considering how he can absolutely carry the entire offense when he gets hot. Remember when he hit 23 homers in a 35 game span last year? Plus he's the exact piece we are currently lacking. A legit, middle of the order bat. We saw how all our young guys regressed this year without Papi to protect them. I love Markus Betts to death but it's fair to question the ceiling of a team when he's your biggest power threat. The Red Sox hit the fewest homers in the American League in 2017.
Why we SHOULDN'T trade for Stanton:
As far as I can tell there are three red flags when it comes to trading for Giancarlo. The first one is his injury history. Stanton played in a career high 159 games this season, so it seems like his previous inability to stay on the field is getting overlooked. Some of his injuries have been unlucky (like getting drilled in the face) but even when you factor that out he has had health problems. Here are his games played since becoming a full time big leaguer in 2011: 150, 123, 116, 145, 74, 119, and 159. So it's not as if he's never on the field, but he's an annual bet for a DL stint or two.
Red flag number two is the fact that we would have to give up assets to get Stanton (and that we would be buying high since he's coming off a career year). As opposed to signing free agent J.D. Martinez, who would only cost money, acquiring Stanton would cost one (two? three?) of our talented young position players. At least one of Mookie, Xander, JBJ, Devers, and Benintendi would be the starting point of any Stanton deal. Probably two of them since we don't really have prospects to offer. Now we shouldn't be tied to all those guys. The past two Octobers have showed us we probably need to shake up the core. But they're still assets that the Sox would have to surrender. I'm most comfortable dealing Xander and JBJ.
The final concern in trading for Stanton is that contract. Beginning in 2018 the artist formerly known as Mike Stanton is owed $295 million over 10 years. Gulp. Now, this is the Red Sox, so money shouldn't be a major factor. Ownership should spend as much cash as it takes to win, but the reality is they have their limits. Stanton just turned 28, which means he'll be 37 when this deal expires. When you combine that MASSIVE financial commitment to an aging power hitter with an injury history during his prime, I'd say that's "not ideal". For what it's worth Stanton has an opt out after 2020. Bryce Harper may redefine the market for superstars this time next year, and if Stanton has a big season he could theoretically opt out. However, we can't count on that.
On paper the Sox would be better off signing Martinez and keeping their young bats (either to build around or to use in another trade). J.D. is no scrub. The dude hit 45 homers in only 119 games last year. He's also had a higher OPS than Giancarlo in each of the past two seasons. But 2017 was also a career year for him. And here's what I keep coming back to when I think of the opportunity cost between the two...Boston is in WIN NOW mode. Chris Sale is a free agent in two years. So is Xander Bogaerts. Craig Kimbrel is a free agent next year. Mookie and JBJ in three years. Baseball isn't played on paper. Stanton is the type of bat that keeps starting pitchers up at night. If he stayed healthy he could hit 60 homers playing half his games at Fenway. He would be a MEGA STAR in Boston. So fuck it. Go get your guy, Dombrowski. Or better yet, get both.