The Cardinals have intensified their pursuit of Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton as club officials reportedly have flown to Los Angeles to engage Stanton's representation in order to try to put together a deal of which the Marlins and, most importantly, Stanton, approve.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network was the first to report Friday that the Cardinals were going to meet with the Wasserman Group, which represents Stanton, just as the San Francisco Giants, believed to the other leading suitors for the 59-homer slugger, reportedly had met with Stanton's reps on Thursday.
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Michael Girsch did not return telephone messages and emails.
The Marlins, under new ownership, including former New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter, have made no secret that they need to unload payroll this offseason, with Stanton's $295 million remaining over 10 years the most likely to go. The hitch is that Stanton, when he signed his $325 million, 13-year deal three years ago, has full no-trade protection – although he could opt out after the 2020 season when $218 million would remain over the final seven years.
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It is believed that the Cardinals have a deeper crop of young players than the Giants, which might be more appealing to the Marlins, but there is the issue of how much of Stanton's remaining salary the team that would acquire him would pick up. And, then, of course, Stanton, a southern California product who is said to have more interest in going to the Los Angeles Dodgers, has the final say.
The Dodgers already have contract issues and if they acquired Stanton and took on most of his money, they would be seriously over the luxury tax ceiling of $197 million. The Cardinals have not been told by Stanton that he would not play for them and they are said to be committed to forging ahead with their negotiations until they hear a definite 'no.'
A Major League Baseball source said that the Giants and Cardinals were the teams with whom the Marlins have had the most contact.
It has been reported that hard-throwing right-hander Sandy Alcantara, who finished last season in the majors, was one of the prospects the Cardinals had discussed with the Marlins but that has not been confirmed.
One Bay Area report had the Giants sending second baseman Joe Panik along with two prospects, suggesting that incumbent Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon might be traded.