Even with depth and injury issues, the Washington Nationals are unlikely to nab Giancarlo Stanton for a variety of reasons. Here is why.
Start with the timing. Although Stanton cleared waivers, there are two weeks for teams to make trades before rosters partially freeze for postseason play. While Justin Verlander or Brad Hand may change addresses, any deal for Stanton should come in the offseason when the market opens for more bidders. It is impossible to see an August trade for one of the best in the game.
Any rumors regarding Stanton to the Nats foretell bad things. You do not take on $75 million guaranteed for three years unless Washington thinks Bryce Harper will not return this year. Sure, Stanton and Harper make a dream outfielder. Your dog could play the empty position and the Nats would win.
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The Nats are out of options for outfield depth. Along with Harper, Jayson Werth has missed nearly three months and Adam Eaton remains a longshot for the playoffs. Although Michael Taylor is back from his oblique strain, Brian Goodwin joined the disabled list after a groin pull.
For Mike Rizzo and the front office, Ryan Raburn and Howie Kendrick are the players plugged in. Both with success. Considering Washington is over the competitive balance tax threshold already, adding Stanton’s total is a non-starter.
The bigger problem is out of Washington’s hands.
Even if the reported sale of the Marlins happens before the end of the month, the Derek Jeter-led ownership group will need time to decide what to do with the face of their franchise. With an opt-out after 2020, Miami has three years to decide. No one will rush a trade before the Marlins are ready.
Stanton is a player you either build a team around or trade for enough prospects to rebuild. The Chicago White Sox went the trade route last year with Eaton and Chris Sale and ended with a Black Friday haul for the ages.
To complicate things, the teams share the division. Whoever runs the show in South Florida is not eager to help a rival. Miami will entertain any offer, but the backlash for them as Stanton crushes homer after homer nine or ten nights a year in a road uniform is harsh.
When you are on pace for 60 homers, everyone wants a piece. Stanton would thrive in Washington’s baseball atmosphere. The Nats have top prospects. It could happen.
Chances are it will not and that is okay.