If you’re a Miami Marlins fan (and judging by attendance, you’re not), this week has been pretty rough for you.
Miami had such disappointing 2012 campaign that they shipped their franchise player in Hanley Ramirez off to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline in disgust.
They have now followed that up by ridding themselves of almost $160 million in salary on the Toronto Blue Jays by trading three of their best remaining players in Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.
Yes, the salary dump is in full swing, which is bad news for Marlins fans. But it could be great news if you’re a Colorado Rockies fan. You see, Miami still has some valuable players. Players they’d like to keep and build around, but players they have alienated, and that absolutely hate the organization’s guts to the point of making it public.
Headlining this list of players is perhaps the best home-run hitter in baseball you’ve never heard of: Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins unquestionably want to keep him; he’s young, he’s cheap, he hits bombs. What’s not to like?
One general manager that inquired about Stanton was told he was unavailable, but we’ll see about that. After the blockbuster trade this week, Stanton tweeted “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple.” He hasn’t bothered to delete it. To the contrary, he followed up the tweet by joking with Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper about the possibility of playing for the Nats. If he’s not available, I’m betting he will be very soon.
What I’m getting to is simple: If the Rockies aren’t in on the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes, they are absolutely insane. Over the past year, many of my colleagues have articulated that Colorado should make a run at Josh Hamilton, the free agent standout outfielder of the Texas Rangers. I can honestly say that I would rather the Rockies make a run at Stanton via trade than Hamilton through free agency.
With that in mind, here’s a look at why Stanton is a perfect fit for Colorado, why the Marlins want to keep him and why he’s more desirable than Hamilton.
37- Stanton jacked 37 home runs last year for the 93-loss Marlins. That number is only six off of the 43 Hamilton jacked in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. It’s also five more than Hamilton hit in any other major league season. That becomes even more impressive when you consider…
23- Stanton is only 23. He hit all those bombs as a 22-year old, following up a 2011 campaign where he hit 34 as a 21-year old. He is eight years younger than Hamilton. And with that kind of youth comes team control…
5- 2017 is the first year that Stanton will be eligible for free agency. He is not even arbitration eligible until 2014. Now you see why the Marlins would prefer to keep him around. He is a small to mid-market team’s dream, the kind of player the Rockies thrive on locking up long-term at a discount (see Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Ubaldo Jimenez).
$480k- The salary that Stanton made last season. As a pre-arbitration eligible player, he won’t see a substantial pay raise in 2013. Just to reiterate, Stanton would cost the Rockies less than a half a million dollars next season. The Rockies would have until 2014 to lock him up in a long-term deal if they made the move.
4- This is the number of top prospects I think it takes to pry Stanton away from the Marlins. Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com speculated that if the Rangers have interest in using the youngster to replace Hamilton, shortstop Jurickson Profar (age 19) and first baseman Mike Olt (24) would be the main pieces of such a deal. The Rockies could counter that with their own deal centered around third baseman Nolan Arenado (21) and pitcher Drew Pomeranz (23). The difference is that Colorado has several other big league ready youngsters (Josh Rutledge, DJ LeMahieu, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood, Charlie Blackmon, Eric Young Jr.) they could throw in as well.
Now I know you’re all thinking “Zach the Rockies need pitching! What good is another hitter in a lineup that was one of the best in baseball last season?”
Consider this: The last time the Rockies spent top dollar for a pitcher was in 2000 when the team brought in Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle. It was Dan O’Dowd’s first major move as GM. It was quite literally (in his own words) Bill Geivett’s first day on the job as his assistant.
If they haven’t repeated that feat in 12 years, I hardly see why they would choose to do so now. I’d like to see Dan Haren in a Rockies uniform too, but it’s simply not going to happen. The alternative is to try and put together the most prolific lineup in the major leagues. While the club’s makeshift batting order performed admirably last season, we all saw the end result.
A happy, healthy Giancarlo Stanton will hit 40 home runs next year regardless of which ballpark he calls home, but he’d have a chance of 50 here in Denver with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki protecting him from both sides in the lineup. Add .300 hitters in Dexter Fowler and Jordan Pacheco, a catcher that can hit 30 home runs in Wilin Rosario, and the picture of consistency in Michael Cuddyer and you have a lineup that rivals the New York Yankees, at a fraction of the price.
Maybe the Marlins aren’t selling on Stanton, maybe they’ll bend over backwards to gain back the trust of a young superstar in the making. But until that point, the Rockies would be absolutely foolish not to throw everything they can at the Marlins in exchange for Stanton’s services.
My frustration with the Rockies constantly centers around their unwillingness to deal prospects for proven major league commodities. Giancarlo Stanton is young, affordable and perfect for Coors Field. If the Rockies really want to prove they are committed to winning, dealing for Stanton is the place to start.