As a potential trade partner with the Miami Marlins, the St. Louis Cardinals appear to check all the boxes.
They have the money to take on Giancarlo Stanton’s considerable contract and a depth of cost-controlled prospects that would accommodate the Marlins’ rebuild.
All St. Louis lacks is a Pacific Ocean view.
If you’re one of those who have built their offseason happiness around chances the Cardinals could add Stanton and his 59 home runs to the middle of their lineup, you probably shouldn’t read any further. Developments on that front over the past 24 hours are not promising.
It looks like endgame in this bidding war is near and that the Cardinals are going to have to look elsewhere for a much-needed source of thump. The game is now the San Francisco Giants’ to lose.
To be clear, that’s not because the Cardinals haven’t gone all in to make a deal. Our friends at the Miami Herald, in fact, report that the Marlins’ brass still prefer what John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch offered, which included right-handed pitcher Sandy Alcantara.
No. It’s Stanton’s full no-trade authority that has complicated things for the Redbirds (and, apparently, several others).
Stanton has made it clear from the start that he will leverage his position with great prejudice, even if it means staying with a losing team in Miami until he lands where he can watch the sun set over the water. Despite reports that he’s “leaving his mind wide open,” the east-side banks of the Mississippi probably isn’t what he has in mind.
Connect the dots and you’ll spot the trend:
▪ As we reported on bnd.com Tuesday, Stanton finally presented the Marlins with a list to teams to which he would accept a trade. The only team on the list we know of for sure is, unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who play their home games barely 15 minutes from the Sherman Oaks, California, high school where Stanton graduated.
▪ That list must have been pretty limiting because the Miami Herald reported less than 24 hours later that the Marlins subsequently warned Stanton that they were serious about slashing their payroll. If he doesn’t accept a trade, they told him, he’ll be a superstar player on a perennial loser. This, by the way, is why we all believed the Cardinals were a favorite to land Stanton in the first place — with a new billion dollar television deal kicking in for 2018, they have the cash to pay Stanton the $295 million he’s due over the next 10 years.
▪ Late Thursday, SiriusXM’s Greg Mish reported that Stanton and his agent agreed to a meeting with the Giants, and that the Marlins granted permission, as is required by Major League Baseball’s no-tampering rules. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Giants and Marlins officials are meeting today.
▪ Looking back to last week, the Giants are said to have already made an offer for Stanton that, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, included second baseman Joe Panik, outfield prospect Chris Shaw and right-handed pitching prospect Tyler Beede. Is that enough for the Giants? Yes, according to Jon Morosi, of MLB.com, but only if the Giants would take the entirety of Stanton’s contract.
▪ Jon Heyman, who has been following Stanton’s offseason developments closely for the MLB Network, reported Thursday that while no deal was on the table, the Giants indicated their willingness to take on “a substantial portion” of Stanton’s remaining contract.
If the Cardinals still have a chance, it’s because San Francisco isn’t LA. Maybe close enough isn’t good enough for Stanton?
Mo and Co., according to Morosi, met with Stanton and his representatives Friday. Presumably, they prodded him hard with the points made by Matt Holliday, who played in St. Louis for all or parts of eight seasons.
He told MLB Network in an interview last week that Busch Stadium is a ballplayer’s Shangri-La.
“Look, you got all offseason to live in Miami or LA, or wherever he wants to live, but for six months, man, getting after it as a baseball player in St. Louis, there’s no better place,” Holliday said. “You get the chance to play for a winning franchise, in a city that loves baseball that would revere him for the next 10 years as their superstar to kind of build their team around. I just think that it’s a better opportunity than maybe people are thinking.”
This, of course, is what we all like to believe about Baseball Heaven.
Then again, what kind of substitute are rings for your fingers when what you really want is sand between your toes?