A Steep Price, but Texas has Enough to Land Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton was an All-Star and lead the NL in slugging as a 22-year-old in 2012. Image: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have been telling everyone going back to last Fall that they have no interest in trading star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mills from churning.

One of the juiciest of possible trade scenarios involves the Texas Rangers and a suggested deal that would send Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and Martin Perez to Miami.

First of all, from a public relations standpoint, the Marlins would be fools to deal away Stanton. He’s still just 23 years old and already a star in the big leagues. Plus, he’s under team control for three more seasons. If they were to trade him, they would have to get such a haul in return that they simply couldn’t say no. And frankly speaking, Stanton’s obvious unhappiness with how the organization dealt away the overwhelming majority of their roster just one off-season after spending so much to add talent shouldn’t really be taken into consideration, at least not from a business standpoint.

Stanton is really the only marketable piece this club currently has. If there is any chance to salvage a relationship with the fans in South Florida (and I doubt there is whilst Jeffrey Loria sits in the owner’s box, but that’s another column). That said, winning tends to heal almost all wounds as far as fans are concerned. A trade of Stanton could conceivably bring the Fish closer to winning sooner than holding on to him. It would be a risk, but one the organization has shown it isn’t afraid of taking.

From a Rangers perspective, making such a blockbuster trade would seem to give fans and those within the organization pause. Looking deeper, however, this is the type of trade that Texas is well-positioned to make.

Perez is a guy who has dropped a long ways in many of the prospect rankings list coming off a tough season at Triple-A in 2012 and an unimpressive stint in the big leagues. What is of utmost importance to recall here though is that he turned 22 years old earlier this month. Perez possesses a world of talent and has plenty of time to make the needed adjustments. Trading him at this point would be selling low, but the Rangers may have soured on him just enough to make including him in this kind of trade more palatable.

In Olt, the Rangers have a potential middle-of-the-order bat, but one who is at least temporarily blocked at third base by Adrian Beltre. Olt could also play first and the Rangers have the luxury of the DH to use to find a home for his potent bat, so holding on this upper-tier prospect seems like the thing to do.

The case for keeping Profar is even more pronounced. Rumors were rampant that Texas could have landed Justin Upton from Arizona this past Winter but were unwilling to part with either Profar or big league shortstop Elvis Andrus to make the deal. Since that time, Andrus has been inked to a massive contract extension and second baseman Ian Kinsler is signed through at least 2017. There has been some discussion of moving Kinsler to first base or even left field in order to make room for Profar, the top prospect in all of baseball, but the implication of the contracts that Texas has been securing is that Profar may simply wind up being an extremely valuable trade chip.

What any kind of prospect-for-big-leaguer trade must weigh is the risk involved. For the team trading away the Major League star, in this case, the Marlins, are they comfortable enough with what their scouts have seen? Are they convinced that this package is the best they can expect to receive for their star player? Does this trade make them better down the road? They must believe in the potential of the prospects they’re getting back and believe there is a realistic chance those players will at least come close to reaching said potential.

For the buyers (Texas), you’re gambling that the star player (Stanton) puts you over the top. This particular trade idea is a bit unique in that it isn’t often a young, team-controlled player of this magnitude becomes available. That said, they also have to consider the significant financial value of having three players, all potential impact players, under control for six big league seasons each instead of getting Stanton for three, and those three seasons will be arbitration years with Stanton likely to command salaries well North of $10 million per season.

When all is said and done, if this trade were actually proposed it would take a lot of guts for either side to pull the trigger. It may take even more to walk away, however. The deal is probably the best one Miami could imagine in return for Stanton, whose escalating salary and unhappiness with the organization combine to mean he’s probably eventually going to be traded anyway. By holding on, you risk injury and the player losing value; it’s better to deal while interest is its highest.

Texas would be agreeing to trade away three of the better prospects in the game and seriously decimate their minor league system. In doing so, however, they would actually be dealing from a position of depth, as there is not an immediate opening at the major league level for any of these three young players and the player they would be adding is plenty young enough to be a part of the long-term plans with the Rangers.

There is more attention than ever given to prospects in this day and age. Heck, it’s the reason a site like this one exists. But farm systems have but one simple function and that is to make the major league team better. They can do that in a variety of ways, of course, but one of those ways is to use the developing young players as trade chips to add big league pieces. Being willing to make those trades is what separates many of the new-age General Managers in baseball. You must be able to recognize and value the development of your own prospects, but you must also be able to weigh that value against the impact of a potential addition to your big league roster.

I don’t have any insight on whether or not this trade has been proposed or even would be considered by either club, but on its face, it sure looks like a winner for both clubs.