COMMENTARY | Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings begin December 3, and the Philadelphia Phillies still have a lot of questions to answer in both their lineup and bullpen. GM Reuben Amaro Jr. loves to kick tires, and there will be a lot of them in Nashville.
In an effort to dump salary, the Miami Marlins traded away just about everyone in their 2012 starting lineup. One notable name remaining is Giancarlo Stanton, and it has been reported that he is less than pleased about the trade.
Stanton will be arbitration eligible in 2014 and could be available if his relationship with the team doesn't improve. The price is expected to be high, so finding out how high should be among Amaro's first priorities. At just 23 years old, he is as dangerous a hitter and promising a prospect as any in the league, and, in my opinion, his age makes him worth even a significant trade package.
Since his debut in 2010, Stanton has been a legitimate power threat, hitting 22 home runs in just 100 games his rookie season. In 2012, he posted career highs in home runs (37), batting average (.290), on-base percentage (.361) and slugging percentage (.608).
Stanton would fit perfectly in the 5-hole in the Phillies' lineup, a spot where Stanton plays his best. In 165 plate appearances batting fifth, Stanton has a .325 average, .376 OBP, and a 1.058 OPS. He would provide protection for Ryan Howard as well as the plate discipline the Phillies lacked in 2012.
The Marlins acquired infielder Yunel Escobar in the trade with the Blue Jays and may be looking to move him as well. If I was Amaro, I would try to get Escobar back with Stanton. Escobar is signed at a reasonable $5 million for 2013 and has matching team options for 2014 and 2015, making him a good stop-gap for the Phillies at third base.
While he is primarily a shortstop, he played 22 games at third base in 2007 and can play second base if Chase Utley has problems with his knees again next year. He is a career .282 hitter with an on-base percentage of .353 and doesn't strike out a lot.
The Marlins are reportedly looking for three top prospects in return for Stanton, and the Phillies have a lot of young pitchers, including Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin, as well as outfielder Zach Collier. They also have Dominic Brown, Tyler Cloyd, Phillipe Aumont and Vance Worley who have spent time in the majors.
A package including a combination of these available players could get the Phillies the right-handed power bat they need and a serviceable infielder for a 2013 salary increase of only about $6 million, leaving payroll available for a center fielder. It's unlikely, but then again so was the Marlins/Blue Jays trade.
Normally, I would argue in favor of the Phillies keeping their top prospects, but Stanton is the exception. He is the ultimate prospect, younger than most of the players the Phillies have in their farm system. For that reason alone, I would sell the farm to get him. Trade them the newly-named Reading Fightin' Phils for all I care.
The Phillies' farm system was thought to be depleted after trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. Somehow, though, they have developed Vance Worley into a solid mid-rotation starter and Darin Ruf into a potential slugger.
A farm system is more than just top draft picks; it is the sum of many different parts. A good farm system is able to turn youngsters with talent into professional ballplayers, and Philadelphia's farm system has a great track record of doing just that. Since 1996, the Phillies' farm system has given us Scott Rolen, Marlon Byrd, Randy Wolf, Ryan Madson, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Brett Meyers, Taylor Buchholz, Gavin Floyd and Michael Bourn.
Should the Phillies have the opportunity to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, even for significant package of prospects, I have faith in the scouts and minor-league managers to find more talent and turn them into big-league ballplayers.
Scott Lentz is a regular contributor to Football Nation and The Gaming Advisory. He grew up in the Philadelphia area and currently resides in the nearby suburb of West Chester. Follow Scott on twitter: @scottlentz27
- Sports & Recreation
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Yunel Escobar