Phillies Again Linked to Stanton, But This Time is Different
This is a rumor that has been going on for what seems like years. The Marlins got themselves in over their heads with a 13-year, $325 million contract with perennial All-Star Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins almost immediately were rumored to trade Stanton, as revenues remain low in Miami. The Phillies are reportedly in "preliminary talks" to acquire Stanton, but this time the circumstances are different than rumors in the past.
Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Phillies are one of four teams interested in Stanton:
The real talks must begin now. Why? Because the Marlins have new ownership and are expected to cut payroll dramatically.
Some reports say that the Marlins could lower their payroll to as low as $55 million. That is a far cry from the $117 million the Marlins spent in 2017. Stanton is due to make $24.5 million in 2018, up from $14.5 million in 2017. That number peaks in 2023 and 2024 at $32 million.
Recent numbers suggest the Marlins could have a payroll as high as $85 million, but they have some work to do to cut that down, no matter what.
The Phillies have one advantage compared to the other teams: they have lots and lots of money. Besides taking on Stanton's full contract, the Phillies could afford to take on other bad money the Marlins have, too. Some of it is for a shorter term than others. Here are a few examples:
Wei-Yin Chen is due to make $10 million in 2018. But that number jumps to $20 million in 2019 and $22 million in 2020. Chen is perhaps a number three starter at his peak, but has been injured often and pitched rather poorly when he has pitched for the Marlins. Chen made just five starts last season. The Marlins would love to dump this contract.
Martin Prado has always been a fine super utility player to a starter in the major leagues. But at 34 years old, his salary will far exceed what value on the field he is likely to lend to a club. Prado is due $13.5 million in 2018 and $15 million in 2019.
Relievers Brad Ziegler and Tunichi Tazawa are due $9 million and $7 million, respectively for 2018. Then both become free agents. Niether player helped the Marlisn very much in 2017. Both finished the season with a -0.7 WAR. The Marlins would love to dump these salaries.
Morosi notes that rival executives think the Cardinals are a possible landing spot. But he also says the Phillies could be in a prime position:
While the Phillies aren't viewed as a World Series contender now, Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak is beginning to add the players he hopes will be with the team when it becomes one. The Phillies, who consistently carried payrolls beyond $160 million not long ago, have less than $7 million committed to players for 2018. They have the bandwidth to add Stanton's entire contract -- and keep spending after that.
There is one more issue: Stanton has a full no-trade clause.
Depending upon the deals offered, Stanton may not have many options. But the Phillies could have made a trade to Philadelphia a little bit more appealing with the announcement of their coaching staff. One of the new coaches worked with Stanton before.
New Phillies hitting coach John Mallee was the Marlins minor league hitting coordinator throughout Stanton's entire minor league tenure. Then, in 2010 when Stanton hit the major leagues as a rookie, Mallee was Stanton's hitting coach.
This 2017 long form piece in the Miami Herald by writer Michelle Kaufman described Stanton's rise to becoming a dominant hitter. Malleen gets a lot of the credit for Stanton's success: "All the while, his swing was getting better under the tutelage of Marlins hitting coach John Mallee, now with the Chicago Cubs."
Check out this film of Mallee discussing Stanton's swing:
The general managers meetings take place this week. Often, trades are made or at least the groundwork for trades is made.
The Phillies may not come out of this sweepstakes as winners. However, the rumors finally should be put to bed soon: the Marlins need to clear money, and there are takers. The Phillies probably have the most money and can assume other contracts, too. But there will have to be compensation given in the form of prospects. We do not know just yet what the Marlins are looking for, but the Phillies have plenty of those too.