Jeffrey Loria is the worst MLB baseball owner. He is a crass, arrogant and flippant businessman who even sued his Marlin season ticket holders. But he was clever enough to bamboozle a brothel stadium from the taxpayers of Miami. Now, he is in the midst of trying to sell his team for $1.2 billion to an investment group led by former Yankee Derek Jeter (who wants to put no money into the club but have an equity position and total control over the franchise.)
The Marlins weak attendance and fan base mirrors its weak performance. Despite the millions in incentives and baseball revenue sharing, the Marlins are expected to lose $60 million this season.
When a business wants to sell at top dollar, it needs to massage its balance sheet to make a buyer think he is getting a great deal. The only way a small market club can do that is to cut payroll, the team's largest cost center.
News filtered today that the Marlins star player, Giancarlo Stanton, cleared waivers. After the trade deadline, teams put their players through waivers to clear them for possible August trades prior to the September 1 playoff roster deadline. (The other use of the waiver system is to try to get rid of an expensive contract.)
The Marlins are committed to six players $95 million in 2018 ($25 million is to Stanton).
Stanton, 27, hit his 44th HR of the season. He has achieved 5.2 WAR so far this year. At a salary of $14.5 million, his performance has outpaced his contract by $14.1 million. Next year, his contract jumps to $25 million. He is signed for 10 years at $295 million, but he can opt out after the 2020 season at age 30 (after being paid $77 million for three years).
Stanton is a legitimate superstar. He already has a 32.7 WAR. In 7.5 years, he has 252 HR, 634 RBI, .359 OBP, .268 BA.
Here is the argument for a blockbuster trade for Stanton:
1. He is young.
2. He is proven hitter.
3. He immediately makes any lackluster batting order better.
4. He is under long term control.
And his contract is such that if the market in 2020 is $30 million per year (Harper potential deal), then he will opt out - - - and the team acquiring him by trade now is only out $77 million.
For the Marlins to take the PR hit to trade their star player, Miami will need to get a substantial return for Stanton: cheap controllable major league players and top prospects.
In the current situation, the Cubs may not have enough assets to acquire Stanton, who would be the perfect solution to the left field platoon situation.
The package the Cubs would have to offer to get Stanton:
1. Baez or Russell. A controllable middle infielder with defensive skills is a premium position. One would think Miami, catering to Latin market, would prefer Baez's versatility over Russell (including injury history).
2. Schwarber. Even though Theo-Jed adore their Baby Ruth wannabee, there would be no position left for Schwarber if Stanton is acquired (since Heyward's best position is Gold Glove RF). Miami could use Schwarber as a trade flip to an AL club for more prospects.
3. Almora. The Marlins need to market hometown players to their fans. Almora is young and talented to be a long term marketing piece.
4. Edwards. The Marlins would prefer to get a starter (like Hendricks) but the Cubs cannot spare one. A bullpen piece with some upside would off-set the weakness in Cub farm prospects since Edwards has a major league track record.
5. One of the Top 4 pitching prospects (De La Cruz, Albertos, Alzolany, or Lange) and/or International Bonus pool money.
If you look at this possible transaction from a long term Cub prospective, Stanton fills a need to provide offense, solidify the outfield and give protection to Bryant and Rizzo in the batting order.
It is also an affordable transaction.
The Cubs have $55 million in contracts coming off the books at the end of the year (net $46 million with Quintana's salary for 2018). Stanton's salary in 2018 is $25 million, leaving $21 million to sign a free agent starting pitcher.
If any team trades for Stanton, it would not be a blockbuster move - - - but a nuclear one.