Aug 17, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) at bat against the San Francisco Giants at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Yesterday I wrote about the possible availability of Cardinals third baseman David Freese for next season and proposed that the Marlins might acquire him with a Steve Cishek-for-Freese trade. Looking back at it now, though, I think my proposal was a bloop single when I might as well try to hit a fantasy baseball home run, so here goes.
The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best run organizations in baseball as evidenced by their ability to reamin in contention year after year while also maintaining one the best minor league systems. The Cards are so stacked with big league ready prospects they have trouble finding them enough available at bats and innings at the major league level.
In other words, this is one of the teams the Marlins should be targeting this offseason if they plan to maximize the return on their massive trade chip, Giancarlo Stanton. I have not heard the Cardinals linked to a Stanton trade, but there are a couple of circumstances coming up that might make it an attractive move for them.
As mentioned in yesterday’s piece, the Cards have two key regulars who will be free agents at the end of this season in rightfielder Carlos Beltran and closer Edward Mujica. As a team that expects to be in contention over the next few years, Stanton would be a perfect replacement for Beltran. Especially since being a first year arbitration eligible player means he will probably be quite a bit less expensive than the $13 million Beltran was paid this season.
Looking a bit further down the line, the contract of Cards leftfielder Matt Holliday expires after the 2016 season, which coincidentally would be the first year Stanton is eligible for free agency. The then 36 year old Holliday would make $17 million in 2016. That freed up salary could conveniently be used to pay a then 27 year old Stanton in 2017 and beyond.
So assuming a possible fit has been established, who exactly are these prospects the Marlins should ask for in return. In any Stanton trade, the Marlins should ask for the entire house and work their way down from there. Considering the current strengths and weaknesses in the Marlins organization, I would start by asking for Freese, outfielder Oscar Taveras, first baseman Matt Adams and any one from a list of pitchers that includes Trevor Rosenthal or Michael Wacha or Michael Blazek. It’s likely that the Marlins will have to include Cishek along with Stanton to get his done, but that should not be an issue.
Here are the 2013 numbers for the Cardinal players:
As we discussed yesterday, Freese is an above average offensive 3B with two years of team control remaining.
Matt Adams is a lefthanded hitting first baseman with plus raw power and a .318 career minor league batting average. He has been used coming off the bench and as an injury replacement at the big league level all season with some success.
Mar 6, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras (87) hits a 2 run home run against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Oscar Tavares is the top prospect in the Cards system and was the #2 overall prospect according to MLB.com coming into the season. The scouting report on him mentions that “his improvement in terms of plate discipline has made him an even more dangerous hitter, one who looks like a sure-fire middle-of-the-order run producer.” Tavares had an injury filled season in AAA, but still managed to post impressive rate stats.
Trevor Rosenthal is a righthanded power pitcher who has been used in the St. Louis bullpen all season. Rosenthal throws a high 90’s fastball along with an excellent curveball and cutter. He is still viewed as a future starter, but has already proven he can be very effective out of the pen.
Michael Wacha is a big right hander with a mid 90’s fastball and above average slider who projects as a durable major league starter. The first round draft pick from 2012 is in just his first season of professional ball.
Michael Blazek was the Cards #6 prospect coming into the season and is a fall back option if the Cards won’t budge on Rosenthal or Wacha. Blazek is strictly a reliever at his point with a 95 mph fastball to go along with a curveball, cutter and change up. Control has been an issue for the righthander, but it has not hampered his ability to shutdown minor league hitters allowing a sub .200 opponents average.
In one fantasy baseball style move the Marlins can address their lack of offense from the infield corners, bring in a viable replacement for Stanton in rightfield and possibly add to their already impressive group of pitching talent. In addition, they would now be free to try to move Logan Morrison for some badly needed help at catcher.
The Cards get a proven power bat and elite talent in rightfield instead of having to hope Tavares is ready to perform in a pennant race next season. However, they would be giving up a lot in inexpensive assets so the deal makes far less sense from their side.
What do you think, any chance either team would go for this?