The Washington Nationals are better off letting the slugger go elsewhere. In dollars and prospects, the cost for Giancarlo Stanton is too high.
Yes, dream tonight of Stanton and Bryce Harper sharing the same outfield. Imagine the balls exiting Nationals Park at orbital velocity as the mall awaits a championship parade. Okay, daydream over.
Let’s start with the basics. Washington cannot afford Stanton’s deal. Payroll wise they can but, when you look at the average annual value of his 13-year and $325 million deal, this throws the Nats into competitive balance tax purgatory. Even with the 2020 opt-out, he costs close to $30 million a year in tax purposes.
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Oh yes, that opt-out.
Say they have the players and prospects to make a deal work. Stanton can come and leave in 2020. He can hit the open market and have a decent chance topping the $32 million he is due annually on the back end of the deal. Although not primed to get Harper money at 31, Stanton is not leaving money on the table either.
The Miami Marlins are rebuilding, again. Established major-league players and payroll are not heading to south Florida. The winning bid is a minty supply of blue-chip prospects the Marlins can mold into a championship team or flip for younger major-league talent.
A successful trade is Victor Robles, Erick Fedde and more. As bad as the Nats want to win now, completely gutting the farm system to do so makes no sense. The big needs this winter are a catcher and fifth starter. Unless Stanton secretly developed a curve, he fits neither role.
IfWashington scores Stanton, the chances of Harper staying shrink. The money is not there to make both happy. For a team who plays conservatively on the market, a Stanton trade goes against everything we understand how the Nats operate.
As much as Miami wants rid of Stanton’s headache—despite the large contract, Stanton is outspoken on team issues—the last place they want to see him is in the National League East. If you love Daniel Murphy’s shows against the New York Mets, imagine what Stanton does to the Marlins.
San Francisco, St. Louis and the Boston Red Sox are Miami’s biggest public suitors. They either have the payroll, prospects or revenue to make Stanton work for them. If he slides over to the American League, great.
Sometimes you gamble for success. Stanton’s price, either in cash or prospects, is too high for the reward.