Giancarlo Stanton clubbed his 58th and 59th homers on Thursday, perhaps the finishing touches to his résumé for the National League Most Valuable Player Award -- and the last girders of construction in his market value, as he and the Miami Marlins head into a winter of intrigue.
The ownership group fronted by Derek Jeter has been formally approved, but he has not signaled what his intentions will be with Stanton. For all practical purposes, he has three options in front of him.
1. Jeter could hold a news conference, slam his fist on a table and announce flatly that the Marlins will keep their best and most prominent player. Such a decision would immediately distinguish Jeter from the regime of Jeffrey Loria, who repeatedly sold off the team’s young stars, like Miguel Cabrera. What this would also mean, however, is that Miami could look to move other pricey players, like outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
2. Jeter or his front-office types could go into the offseason with open minds and reach out to other teams, as the organizational meetings begin all around baseball, and begin soliciting offers. As Jeter assesses the best option, they could pick through prospective packages of young and cheap prospects, and get an indication of how much of the $295 million owed to Stanton other teams would ask the Marlins to eat.
3. Jeter could be open and direct with Marlins fans and reveal the club’s mountain of debt, to provide the context for why the team must move Stanton, and in doing so, he would open the industry bidding that would dominate the conversation around the sport for weeks to come.
Stanton’s contract is onerous over the long term, unquestionably, but fans (and some executives) would daydream about what the addition of the slugger would mean to them.
Giancarlo Stanton in Fenway Park, denting the tin of the Green Monster. Stanton in Yankee Stadium, joining Aaron Judge as twin towers. Stanton in Philadelphia, a team with a lot of financial room and a cozy ballpark made for sluggers. Stanton playing in L.A., in his home state, as part of a modern-day Murderers' Row with Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. Stanton in Wrigley Field, to be part of a trio with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Stanton in St. Louis, as the main power source for a lineup that needs its next Mark McGwire or Albert Pujols. Stanton in San Francisco, for a team desperate for home run production. Stanton in San Diego, as the primary draw (and distraction) as the Padres go through the next stages of their rebuilding process.
Jeter hasn’t uttered a word about his plans for the Marlins or explained anything about how he intends to run the club, what his primary areas of focus will be or what role he’ll play in the baseball operations decisions. But because of the uncertainty around Stanton’s future, Jeter will join Shohei Otani as the most discussed people in baseball.
The winter plans for National League teams not going to the postseason (and this excludes the Milwaukee Brewers, who are running second in the race for the NL’s second wild card but are still alive).