St. Louis Cardinals

Marlins warn Stanton: Accept a trade or you’ll be only star on stripped-down team

St. Louis, San Francisco and Boston might not be at the top of Giancarlo Stanton’s destination wish list. But the alternative — remaining with the Marlins as the lone star on a stripped-down team through a slow and potentially agonizing rebuild — might be even less appealing to him.

It’s a choice that could force Stanton’s hand if the Marlins work out acceptable trade proposals with teams that are less desirable to him than others.

According to two sources with knowledge of discussions, the Marlins informed Stanton in October that if he refused to waive his no-trade rights and accept a trade, he would remain a Marlin and team officials would look to trade off other top players to reduce payroll.

While it wasn’t presented to Stanton as an ultimatum, one source said, it shows that the Marlins aren’t without leverage in their efforts to deal Stanton and relieve them of the financial burden he brings. Stanton has said he doesn’t wish to be part of a rebuild.

Shedding the $25 million that Stanton is set to make in 2018 — not to mention the $295 million owed to him over the remainder of his contract — would go a long way toward helping the Marlins reach their $90 million target payroll next season. They would also like to trade infielders Dee Gordon and Martin Prado to help satisfy that goal.

If Stanton were to reject every trade proposal and remain in Miami, the Marlins could look to trade outfielders Marcell Ozuna (projected to make $10.9 million through arbitration) and Christian Yelich (under contract for $7 million), among other core players, to help offset the salary the Marlins would be required to pay Stanton.

So far, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are the only two teams that have reportedly submitted formal offers to acquire Stanton. To varying degrees, other teams are also believed to be in play for him.

Interest on the part of the Boston Red Sox is reported to be “tepid,” and Stanton’s hometown Los Angeles Dodgers, which is presumed to be his preferred destination, aren’t considered one of the front-runners.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Tuesday that Stanton has given the Marlins a list of his preferences. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that teams looking to acquire Stanton could be permitted an exclusive negotiating window to speak directly with the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, in an effort to woo the slugger should he have reservations.

With Stanton’s no-trade rights and hefty contract that few teams can afford, it’s a complex process that could play out for weeks — or even longer.