It is easy to understand why a fan of the Miami Marlins might be conditioned to expect the worse. Like fans of the Toronto Raptors patiently awaiting their team’s fourth quarter collapse, Marlins fans just count the days between faces of the franchise being dumped for prospects. Life as a Marlins fan is just space between Ice Ages. Not totally unlike other teams, it is just the on a more condensed timeline.
After dumping their roster to the Blue Jays, Marlins fans now must contemplate life without Giancarlo Stanton, the biggest piece left for the Marlins to deal, should they see fit. Much has been made about Stanton’s relative levels of happiness, mostly without any actual input from the man himself. But the sharks continue circling, recognizing the Marlins trading Stanton is all but inevitable. SB Nation Marlins blog Fish Bites has the topic covered from multiple angles, only one of which is realistic.
Early this morning, Fish Stripes contributor S Gelm posted about the potential of moving Giancarlo Stanton, using the muted tones of a battered spouse. One can almost picture the author penning the piece with a 1000 yard stare, distancing themselves from what Stanton actually is.
The soft-selling of Giancarlo Stanton as an elite player with four years of control begins as Stanton is described as “an average to above-average fielder” though one “plagued by minor injuries”, who produces 35-40 home runs “at his prime” rather than one of the best young sluggers in the history of the game right now.
Worse yet, this poor disillusioned baseball fan attempts talking their way into believing a Stanton trade would return might “more prospects in return, and in a couple of years, could see Stanton-like numbers from one or several of them.” Which…no.
The dirty secret that so few seem willing to admit is that trading prospects isn’t usually about talent as much as control. If the Marlins trade four years of control for Giancarlo Stanton, they are likely to receive at least 18 years of control via three legitimate prospects – the bare minimum of an acceptable offer for Stanton. The bluest of blue chippers, we’re talking here.
The likelihood of any of those three players ever reaching the .400 wOBA/5 WAR heights of Stanton is astronomically small, especially as the distance between traded pieces and the big leagues increases. Drafting and developing young players is a worthwhile gamble for teams as the free agent market magnifies mistakes so greatly but the one cold, hard truth remains: the washout rate for prospects is incredibly high.
R.J. Anderson wrote today for Baseball Prospectus (it’s free!) about the Royals reportedly dangling top prospect Wil Myers, comparing him to other top ten prospects to be traded in recent history. Other than Pedro Martinez and Hanley Ramirez, none of the players listed ever reached “superstar” status – a.k.a. where Stanton is now. The reason? Very few players are superstars and getting to that level is incredibly difficult.
Fish Stripes editor Michael Jong chimed in with his take later in the day, running down the list of reasons the Marlins will not trade Stanton. Most notable among them – there is no team capable of making a good enough offer at this point. No collection of prospects or players with ample control remaining represents a fair return for FOUR YEARS OF CONTROL of Giancarlo Stanton.
Which is entirely correct. Any team supplementing a prospects package with current big league talent must borrow from Peter to pay Paul – weakening the big club a player like Stanton is acquired to bolster. While not in the same echelon of talent as Mike Trout, Stanton represents a similarly untradeable asset for all intents and purposes.
As discussed earlier this month, after his final pre-arb season and first big arbitration pay day, Giancarlo Stanton becomes entirely tradeable. The Marlins moved Miguel Cabrera at a similar point of his career, paying for one year of his arbitration but shipping him to Detroit for a flotilla of prospects.
As aggrieved as Stanton appeared in his now-famous tweet, there isn’t much he can do but keep playing and keep driving up his asking price when he reaches arbitration. If he wants out of Miami, pricing himself out of their range via endless tape-measure bombs is the best way to do it. At least give the poor, shell-shocked Marlins fans something to remember you by.