Right now, Giancarlo Stanton is The Man. All the trade rumors at the GM meetings have been about him, and on Thursday he won one of the tightest NL MVP races in history. With his full no-trade clause, the Miami Marlins slugger can decide if he wants to stay in Miami or go to another team. And if the team he’s presented with isn’t to his liking, he can turn that down too.
Stanton went on MLB Network after the results were announced, and he had a lot to say about his current situation, and about the Marlins’ desire to trade him. Rick Hummel at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch caught all the juicy quotes.
On the Major League Baseball television network, Stanton allowed that his immediate future “seems pretty open right now. It just depends on which way we want to go. I think our lineup can match up with just about anyone. We need a couple of pieces on the pitching side. We’ll have to see.”
So Stanton doesn’t have his bags packed yet. He obviously enjoys his team and thinks they have a chance to compete if the new owners (including Derek Jeter) are willing to invest in a few more pieces.
Hummel also caught some quotes from Stanton on the conference call that followed the announcement, and Stanton emphasized that ownership needs to seriously invest in the team if they want success — and Stanton wants success.
“[Pitching] needs to be thoroughly addressed, not just somewhat addressed,” he said. “It needs to be a huge push now and a definite contending-addressed matter.”
But Stanton knows that the Marlins don’t want to do that. Jeter has said the main priority is to cut payroll, and if that’s the team mandate, they won’t be making any investments that will lead to winning in the next few years.
But did he really think the new Miami ownership, plotting to cut deeply into payroll, would make any significant pitching moves that would satisfy him?
“I’m not entirely sure, to be honest,” he said. “But I know all teams have plenty of money.”
Some more than others, of course. “Yes, that’s true,” he said. “But plenty, nonetheless.”
Nothing that Stanton is saying here is unreasonable (or untrue). He wants the Marlins to make significant pitching moves, but he’s pretty sure they don’t want to. And “don’t want to” is a lot different than “we can’t.” No matter how badly Jeter claims the Marlins have been run, the new ownership group clearly has money — they just bought the team for over a billion dollars. But at least some of Stanton’s comments seem to be a direct response to a truly bizarre comment that commissioner Rob Manfred made on Thursday.
Rob Manfred says it's unfair to criticize Derek Jeter and #Marlins ownership group if they trade Stanton since they weren't ones who negotiated contract
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 16, 2017
It’s true that Jeter and the new ownership group didn’t negotiate the contract for one of the most powerful, exciting, talented players in baseball. But it’s not like they went into the process blind. They knew about the contract. And considering how adamant Jeter has been about cutting payroll since the moment he became an owner, trading Stanton has probably always been in their plans.
Which brings up why the new ownership group is deciding to cut payroll at all when they just spent a whopping $1.2 billion buying the team. Uber agent Scott Boras shed some much-needed light on that issue on Wednesday when he spoke to USA Today.
“Basically the idea is to reduce the debt service to pay for the franchise by reducing all major league payroll, not being competitive, basically using the argument that we’re going to build a successful team through development.
“That has nothing to do with the fans. It has nothing to do with winning. It has nothing to do with anything other than a financial plan that suits ownership without consideration of the impact it has on Major League Baseball.’’
In short, the owners just spent $1.2 billion buying a baseball team, and since they didn’t back up hundreds of trucks stuffed with cash, they accrued debt. And to pay off that debt faster, they’re slashing payroll so the team makes a larger profit, and then they use that profit to pay off the debt, which enables them to make a real profit even quicker. They could keep the payroll right where it is if they wanted to, and even add to it to make a competitive team, but just like nearly every team owner, they’re concerned with making money and not necessarily with winning.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what Jeter and the rest of the ownership group decide to do with Stanton. They can put together whatever deal they want, but it’s up to Stanton to approve it. No-trade clauses are getting rarer and rarer in baseball, and Stanton’s contract is a great example of why they’re important. So often players have no power over where they go — they’re subject to the whims of owners who want to pay players as little as possible while charging fans massively for the privilege of going to their ballpark. Team owners should definitely be able to make money, but pretending to be “poor” when you just bought an entire baseball team is pretty ridiculous.
Stanton will decide if he stays or goes. If Jeter’s a smart man, he’ll finally pick up the phone and talk to one of the biggest baseball stars on the planet. And then create a deal for Stanton that he might actually want to take, because otherwise, he’s not going anywhere.
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