We've heard the rumors and seen the tweets and gone to bed dreaming: The Miami Marlins will listen to offers for Giancarlo Stanton. Now, listening to offers isn't the same thing as actively looking to make a deal, and assistant GM Dan Jennings told Jim Bowden yesterday on MLB Radio that they aren't shopping their young outfielder. Others have tweeted that the Mariners and Marlins discussed a deal, but they ain't close.
Which begs the question: Is it even possible to trade Stanton? I mean, it's possible, of course; these are the Marlins after all and they'll do anything, and they'll presumably have 28 teams besides the Mariners making at least a token inquiry ("Hello, would Peter Bourjos, Mark Trumbo and a lifetime pass to Disney World do the trick?").
First off, let's see who Stanton is right now, besides a big dude who hits home runs that could clear Alligator Alley. He just completed his age-22 season (and spent the entire season at 22) and hit 37 home runs despite missing 39 games. He hit .290 and led the National League in slugging percentage, even more impressive considering the Marlins' new park was a tough home run park. Basically, we're talking about a guy who has 650 plate appearances could hit 50 home runs and is young enough to improve his batting averages and on-base percentages. He compiled 5.4 Wins Above Replacement in 2012 and already has 12.0 in his two-plus seasons in the majors.
Importantly for any trade, he still has four years of team control until he hits free agency.
What I want know: Has there ever been a player like Stanton who has been traded? A guy so young and so good?
I went back to 1950 and found the position players who had accumulated the most value through their age-24 seasons. If Stanton has two more 5.5-win seasons, he would have 23 Wins Above Replacement through age 24 -- squeezed in between No. 15 Willie Mays and No. 16 Barry Bonds. (Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. are 1-2-3 on the list.)
Stanton is already 87th on this list.
From what I can gather, seven of the top 100 were traded before their 25th birthdays. Five of those seven were traded as prospects and don't really compare, but let's list them anyway:
Willie Randolph (No. 22): From what I can tell, Randolph was essentially a throw-in an exchange of pitchers -- Dock Ellis for Doc Medich -- between the Pirates and Yankees.
Ryne Sandberg (No. 51): Another throw-in, when the Phillies and Cubs exchanged shortstops, Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa. The Phillies just missed the boat, even though he'd played well as a 21-year-old at Triple-A.
Tom Brunansky (No. 89): Brunansky had been a first-round pick of the Angels, but they traded him to the Twins for reliever Doug Corbett and second baseman Rob Wilfong. Brunansky hit 107 home runs through his age-24 season.
So that leaves only two of the top 100 traded after they had established themselves as major leaguers. The first of those was Roberto Alomar. He was just 23 but had already spent three seasons in the majors when the Blue Jays and Padres made their infamous challenge trade at the 1990 winter meetings -- Alomar and Joe Carter for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez. That deal doesn't really apply since the Marlins would be looking for a package of prospects.
So that leaves one comparable deal. Perhaps not surprisingly, it involves an ex-Marlin, Miguel Cabrera, who was traded to the Tigers after his age-24 season. Cabrera only had two seasons left of team control at the time but he'd already had two top-five MVP finishes. The Marlins received six prospects in the deal (Dontrelle Willis also went to Detroit) but the two prizes were Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller.
Obviously, the deal didn't work out, but Maybin and Miller were both consensus top-10 prospects at the time (Maybin No. 6 and Miller No. 10 on the Baseball America list). Considering Stanton has four years of control, he would likely command more than that in a trade. Conservatively, we're looking at a player who will compile 20 WAR over the next four seasons and more likely closer to 25, with a high probability of a couple MVP-caliber seasons.
1. Rangers send Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt and Martin Perez for Stanton and Ricky Nolasco. Jim Bowden tossed this one out there last week. Profar is the No. 1 prospect in the game and is highly regarded enough that 20 WAR (or better) over six seasons isn't a stretch of the imagination. Olt should have a nice big league career as well, although he has some swing-and-miss to his game that raises concerns.
2. Mariners trade Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin for Stanton. If the Marlins want young pitching that is close to big-league ready then the Mariners are the team to deal with. Walker appears to be a consensus top-10 overall prospect although Hultzen's status has dropped a bit after control issues in Triple-A. The Mariners could include a major-league ready outfielder like Michael Saunders.
3. Cardinals trade Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Allen Craig and Trevor Rosenthal for Stanton. The Cardinals have prospects to deal and could move Carlos Beltran to first base if Craig is dealt. Taveras and Miller are top-20 prospects although Miller's minor league numbers raise questions and neither is a consensus top-10 guy. Rosenthal looked dominant in the bullpen during his big league call-up but started in the minors.
4. Pirates trade Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson for Stanton. This is similar to the Mariners' deal -- Cole is a top-10 prospect with a huge arm, Taillon is another pitcher who probably ranks in the overall top 20 and Hanson is a comparable infield prospect to Franklin. An outfielder like Starling Marte could be included. And, like the Mariners, the Pirates probably wouldn't want to deal away their young pitching anyway, no matter how great Stanton's future.
We're already stretching the possibilities and I'm not sure the Marlins would do any of those trades. The Orioles would have to start with Dylan Bundy and add other parts. The Rays could start with Wil Myers and some of their young pitching. The Padres have a lot of young talent in the pipeline, but no one player who stands out.
The Marlins may be listening, but will they stay on the line?
What do you think?