No, no, see, you guys have it all wrong. I never wanted the Red Sox to trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
You must be thinking of some other dopey sportswriter who envisioned him (and envisioned him again and again) as the responsible version of vintage Manny Ramirez in Fenway’s left field for the next dozen seasons.
Nope, that wasn’t me who wanted Ben Cherington to do whatever it took, excluding sending Xander Bogaerts to Miami in return, to acquire the charismatic 25-year-old Marlins slugger.
Me, I wanted Mike Stanton. Right, the ancient lefty, pitched for the Red Sox briefly, won a bunch of rings with the Yankees. Sure, he’s 47 now, but he seems like a decent replacement for Craig Breslow, or am I wrong?
You confusion is understandable. Giancarlo Stanton used to answer to Mike, you see, and … aw, hell this sucks, and that’s not just a reference to this prolonged lame joke leading off this column. It’s a reference to the entire circumstance.
According to multiple reports, the Marlins are on the verge of signing Stanton, their superstar right fielder and the runner-up in the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player balloting, to a 13-year, $325-million contract that will in theory keep him with the franchise through his age-37 season.
When it’s completed, it will be the richest deal for a single player in this history of American professional sports, trumping the $275 million deal perpetual disgrace Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees after the 2007 season.
The news that the Marlins were about to reward Stanton with the longest and most lucrative contract in the sport’s history naturally sent shockwaves through Major League Baseball.
Few believed Stanton, who is by all accounts thoughtful and bright, would commit to a franchise that has habitually traded away its cornerstones rather than pay them the going rate.
Stanton was openly aggravated after owner Jeffrey Loria gutted the roster with a trade that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to the Blue Jays in November 2012.
This is the same organization that traded Miguel Cabrera after his age-24 season and has a history of cycling between pretending to contend and rebuilding.
The conventional wisdom was that he was still pissed and simply biding his time before bolting in free agency in 2017, which also meant the Marlins would likely begin fielding offers for him in advance of his inevitable departure.
The Red Sox, with their shallow left field wall and deep farm system, were expected to be at the front of the line of suitors when the inevitable happened. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this here before, but the idea of Stanton to the Red Sox is more than the usual conjecture.
Last October, someone who has a significant baseball role in the organization swore to me that Cherington’s dream strategy was to have Bogaerts and Stanton in the same lineup for the next half-dozen to a dozen years.
Yeah, I was driving the Stanton bandwagon. But I also knew the directions to the destination.
Of course the Marlins had to go and ruin the best-designed blueprints by — get this — doing the right thing for once.
Sure, it says something about the perception of the owner and the organization that they could offer Stanton the longest and most lucrative contract in the sport’s history and immediate suspicions about their motivations arose.
Were they grandstanding, essentially daring Stanton to say no to such riches so they could position him as the greedy bad guy?
Were they in some soulless way attempting to take advantage of his sudden visceral awareness of his baseball mortality after he endured a gruesome beaning late in the season?
At least for now, it does not appear that Loria and the organization are up to any silly or sinister antics. They’re simply using their payout from the national television package to pay a bleep-ton of cash to a player so talented and coveted that they just had to keep him.
The length and payout of the deal is leaving minds boggled all around baseball, but Stanton, who has a career .903 OPS and has 154 homers before his 25th birthday, could well live up to it. This is not the Tigers giving Cabrera an eight-year, $248 million extension that begins in his age-33 season. The Marlins are paying for Stanton’s prime.
His knees have given him occasional problems, and we won’t know if he’s fully recovered from his beaning until he hangs in there on a curveball that for a split-second appears targeted for his left cheekbone. But if he continues to perform the way he did this season, the Marlins will not regret a dollar of the financial commitment.
One of the mysteries that remain as we await (dread?) final confirmation of the contract is what happens if the Marlins commitment does not extend beyond the monetary?
It would not be beneath Loria to at some point claim Stanton’s contract prevents him from surrounding him with a cast of Derek Dietrichs and Enrique Hernandezes.
What happens then?
The Red Sox aren’t the only team in baseball very curious to discover the details about potential no-trade and opt-out clauses. Perhaps long-term isn’t as long-term as we think right now.
It will be fascinating to see how much leverage Stanton has in controlling his future — and finding another baseball destination — should he someday decide the Marlins didn’t live up to their end of the blockbuster.
The bottom line, though, is the bottom line: No one can ever fault Stanton for taking the security, especially after all that he went through. How can anyone be expected to say no to $325,000,000?
For all of my self-mockery (and your mockery) regarding the mostly serious quest to get Stanton to Boston, I’m not surprised that it apparently won’t happen now. I’m surprised why it won’t happen now.
I expected Theo Epstein’s Cubs to trump any Red Sox’ trade offer. I never expected the Marlins to keep Stanton for themselves and to pay him accordingly.
If you’re among those who believe missing out on Stanton is a bullet dodged, well, yes, the price is steep. But he’s a brilliant power hitter with a relentless work ethic whose grounded personality makes him very easy to root for.
If you didn’t want him, I’d suggest you probably didn’t pay much attention to the Marlins in recent years, a forgivable baseball misdemeanor. But if you disparaged him with remarks about him being just a corner outfielder or some casual ignorance like that, well, chances are I stopped paying attention to you and just didn’t bother to inform you.
It should come as no surprise that the team that drafted and developed Giancarlo Stanton during his ascent to stardom recognizes it what it has. It comes as a complete surprise that they’re paying him accordingly and then some.
Stanton would have been a great fit with the Red Sox — and every other team, really — hitting the Monster with cruel regularity and succeeding David Ortiz as the franchise’s superstar slugger.
It’s not happening, not right now. The Marlins gave him a contract he damn well earned, and one he could not and should not resist. The Red Sox dream is on hiatus.
But as disappointing as it is that Stanton is staying in Miami, I can’t wait to hear the deeper details of the deal.
Because as soon as we find out when that opt-out goes into effect, I’m going to begin counting the days.
Stanton is remaining a Marlin for now. But just because the franchise did the right thing now doesn’t mean they’re about to make it a habit.