By: Doran Grieshaber, Sports Writer
With the Major League Baseball offseason hot stove in full swing, the biggest name being discussed is slugger Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. This past Friday, officials from the St. Louis Cardinals front office met with Stanton’s representatives to discuss a possible trade with Miami. This came just one day after the San Francisco Giants front office also met with Stanton’s representatives. The Cardinals and Giants are currently the two favorite teams to land the reigning National League MVP, with the Dodgers also a possible consideration. The Cardinals are historically cautious about taking on huge contracts, but they seem to be ready to break the mold in order to make themselves a playoff contender once again. The off-season has been slow so far, but once a Stanton deal is made, the other dominoes of the free agent market will quickly begin to fall.
The Cardinals have been one of the most aggressive suitors of Stanton this offseason, and understandably so. The team has been lacking a consistent middle-of-the-order bat since the departure of both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, and Stanton could be just what they need. The Marlins’ right fielder slugged 59 home runs last season on the way to his first MVP award. Stanton would also complete a very dangerous looking outfield, combined with the breakout of Tommy Pham and an improved year from Dexter Fowler.
A trade deal to secure Stanton would require the receiving team to eat the majority of his $295 million contract, as well as a combination of MLB-ready players and prospects. The Giants have reportedly offered second baseman Joe Panik, along with prospects in Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. However, neither of these prospects crack the MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. The Cardinals also have plenty of resources to offer and the payroll leverage to take on Stanton’s contract. Currently, the Cardinals offer is rumored to revolve around pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara. St. Louis also has a surplus of outfield talent, so the trade could involve Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Tyler O’Neill, or Harrison Bader as well. However, Stanton has a full no trade clause so he can ultimately decide where he ends up.
Once Stanton is taken off the board this winter, the scramble for other free agents will immediately begin. If the Giants acquire Stanton, the Cardinals are also rumored to be in the running for top free agent outfielder J.D Martinez. If the Cardinals don’t pursue another big bat, they could go all-in for both starting pitching and relievers. St. Louis could look to spend on Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, or Jake Arrieta to bolster the rotation. There have also been rumors of the Cardinals negotiating with the Tampa Bay Rays for closer Alex Colome.
The free agent market is virtually at a standstill until Stanton makes his decision, which could come any day now. Once he makes his decision, many other premier free agents will be targeted immediately. If Stanton comes to the Cardinals and John Mozeliak improves the pitching staff, look for the Cardinals to give the Cubs some competition for the National League Central and possibly compete for another World Series championship.