The news broke early this morning that should have the Cubs front office changing everything they planned for this off-season.
Yahoo Sports quotes a Miami-based host for SiriusXM who has been all over the Giancarlo Stanton story, reported that the reigning NL MVP will not approve a trade to either the Giants or the Cardinals. Stanton has a full no-trade clause in his 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins so he has all the leverage on where he will go. He is under contract control through the 2020 season.
Furthermore, the report says Stanton "would" accept a trade to four teams and they’re the four teams that were in the ALCS and NLCS: the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs and Astros.
Clearly, Stanton wants to win NOW.
What the Cubs need to do is make a strong pitch for Stanton NOW.
Here is the argument for a blockbuster trade for Stanton I made on August 16, 2017:
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, now probably more than that figure), 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.
As a footnote to the argument, the Cubs would have to either extend the opt out clause with Stanton or pay less in major league talent for a potential 2-year contract (maybe three players and a prospect). The Cubs spent $13 million/season on Chatwood to be the 4th starter. So the team is still under budget (but with several key roles to fill including the closer position).
But this is a one-in-a-generation type move. The three years Stanton has to his opt out is the prime years for the current Cubs core. It also fits into the time frame for the Cubs to attempt to launch their own Cubs channel. Stanton is a superstar who solves a major problem in the current lineup: a consistent hitter that other teams fear.