COMMENTARY| Now that the Marcell Ozuna era seems to have begun in earnest for the Miami Marlins, slugger Giancarlo Stanton is clearly expendable. The interest in teams for Stanton will build to a fevered pitch shortly, and the Marlins stand to haul in a bounty of talent in exchange for the closest player they have left who resembles a superstar. In his first three seasons, Stanton has hit 22, 35 and 37 home runs respectively with a career .268 average. The only way Stanton stays in Miami is if beleaguered team owner Jeffrey Loria feels pressured to showcase a superstar on a team that is going absolutely nowhere for the foreseeable future.
Since Stanton will be salary arbitration eligible for the next three years, the trading partner for the Marlins doesn't have to be a big market team to afford Stanton. Teams that normally wouldn't be in the bidding for a superstar will be in the running if they are willing to forgo top talent to land Stanton.
Even so, the power numbers Stanton has posted over the past three years will put a premium first year arbitration-eligible price for him most likely in the $8 million range, comparable to the one-year contract Jacoby Ellsbury drew from the Boston Red Sox in his second year of arbitration eligibility after hitting .321 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs in 2011.
Among the suitors most likely will be the Cincinnati Reds, who are a right-handed power bat away from being a truly unstoppable force for the next three years. Currently, the Reds have to settle for their left field platoon situation (where Stanton would convert should the Reds trade for him). Injuries to starting left fielder Ryan Ludwick and his backup Chris Heisey have provided the Reds with the opportunity to audition Donald Lutz, a left-handed hitting slugger who is agile enough to play above-average left field even though he is more likely destined to become a big league first baseman.
Lutz would be a big part of the package that the Reds would send to Miami. So too would be the mother lode of young starting pitching the Reds are hoarding, including some who are a year or two away from the majors and other phenoms who are developing. The Marlins should expect their choice of a lefty starter between former St. Johns basketball player Amir Garrett and 40-man roster designee Ismael Guillon and a right-handed starter from a pool of Daniel Corcino, Robert Stephenson or Nicholas Travieso.
Regardless of how much the Reds would have to give up, the acquisition of Stanton would make an expected contender like the Reds flat out dominant.
Sandwiched between lefties Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, Stanton would enable the Reds to move Brandon Phillips up in the order behind leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo and give the Reds a lefty-righty Murderers' Row lineup that would strike fear in the hearts of pitching staffs throughout the game.
Payroll wise, the Reds are in a position to afford a salary like Stanton would command over the next three years, thanks largely to the structure of Votto's mega-contract, which drops to $12 million in 2014 and $14 million in 2015 before jumping to the $20 million level.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds season here.
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