I swear, I’ll do it, so consider this your warning. I’m fully prepared to keep writing semi-annual the-time-is-now-for-Boston-to-trade-for-Giancarlo Stanton missives right up until it actually happens.
If it means pecking out editions and volumes of this column/conjecture/plea every season right up until 2028, when they acquire him and his shot knees at age 38 (think Andre Dawson, 1993), well, I’ll get the template ready.
Fortunately, it’s not going to come to that. I’m convinced that the Red Sox will make a run at Stanton, the 24-year-old slugger who spent the past season getting pitched around in Miami purgatory, with a bold trade proposal that the Marlins may not be able to resist.
And by bold, I mean this specifically: Every young Red Sox player excluding Xander Bogaerts should be on the table. All of them. Except for No. 72 in your program and No. 1 on your All-Star ballot for the next dozen years.
More on the Boston perspective in a moment. First, let’s consider what they’re saying in Miami: That Stanton isn’t available, that he’ll be in right field on Opening Day, that he’s a building block for the next Marlins contender. Nothing shocking there. That’s what they should, and new general manager Dan Jennings hit all of those talking points during a recent interview on SiriusXM’s MLB channel.
“Mr. Stanton is not available,” Jennings said. “He is going to be in right field at Marlins Park, and [we’re] looking forward to having a big year with him. We’re excited.”
He even called him Mr. Stanton. He must be serious. And who wouldn’t be excited to have a player of Stanton’s potential and accomplishment anchoring the lineup, let alone a fledgling GM taking over 100-loss team? After young and inexpensive ace Jose Fernandez, Stanton is the Marlins’ greatest asset.
But in a roundabout way, that’s one of the reasons why the right thing to do is consider trading him. The Marlins need major help everywhere on their roster.
Stanton led the Marlins with 24 homers. Second was 31-year-old role player Justin Ruggiano with 18. He was followed by Derek Dietrich — I’m suspicious that’s a pseudonym for Shelley Duncan— with nine. No one else had more than six.
It was no coincidence that Stanton’s home run total plunged from 37 in 2012 while his walk total, in three more plate appearances (504 to 501), rose by 28 (to 74 from 46). Why pitch to him when what should have been the heart of the New Orleans Zephyrs order followed him in the lineup?
The Marlins need players, and it’s hard to judge whether help is coming soon from the farm system. Miami, which supposedly received a cache of young talent from the Blue Jays in the Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson blockbuster, had the fifth-ranked minor league system entering the season according to Baseball America (the Red Sox were sixth).
But in the magazine’s Organizational Talent rankings at the end of the year, which takes into consideration how many prospects were ranked among the top 20 in their specific leagues, the Marlins were 21st. The Red Sox? First.
Because so many of their prospects had exceptional seasons, the Red Sox have built up a similar type of organizational redundancy to the talent they stockpiled from 2008-10, when they reportedly suggested the Mariners and Blue Jays choose from a list of eight players in exchange for Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay, respectively.
They could make Jennings a four- or five-player offer that includes a young catcher (Christian Vazquez or, far less likely, Blake Swihart), two starting pitchers (among them Henry Owens, Felix Doubront, Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranaudo and Allen Webster), or a third baseman (Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini, and I suspect they would prefer to move the former, who has some Russ Davis tendencies that may not be curable) and still retain legitimate prospects at those positions in their system.
They could deal Jackie Bradley Jr. or Mookie Betts or any other prospect of note that happens to appeal to the Marlins. They could do this if they want to, and I’m a stride away from certain that they do want to. Perhaps they’ll ultimately bow out, the price being too steep — the Marlins did ask for Bogaerts, Middlebrooks, Doubront, and more for Johnson/Reyes — or perhaps they’ll be trumped. Would the Dodgers really offer Yasiel Puig? They could … and should.
As Scott Lauber pointed out while exploring the Stanton space in the Herald the other day, the Red Sox won’t keep the band together. As fun as it might be to see the 2013 champs all return to defend their improbable championship, that’s just not how it works.
Changes are inevitable, and we’ll see you at Safeco, Jacoby. The tricky thing is making the right changes. I still do not consider David Wells and Matt Clement a rotation upgrade over Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. I imagine you’re with me there.
You should be with me here, too. Bringing in Stanton is a change worth making, even if it means giving up Bradley and a few other enticing prospects to make the Marlins reconsider their words. Yes, he’s had knee and hamstring issues, somewhat troubling for a player so young and fit. He batted just .249 this year, which I’ll chalk up as collateral damage from the injuries and the frustration of not getting much to hit.
But the pros so outweigh the cons that the cons are barely worth more than a cursory acknowledgment. Stanton has 50-home run potential in an era when power is a particularly coveted resource. He’s a season removed from leading the majors in slugging percentage (.608). He’s a character guy who would fit in here, even thrive.
He could anchor the Red Sox lineup for the next decade, batting behind Bogaerts or vice versa. I’m not sure — a Sox fan might want to ask him, maybe suggest a trade demand — but it sure seems that beats the heck out of being book-ended by Ruggiano and Logan Morrison.