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Monday, May 20, 2013

Options for the Wild Wild West

Wild on Sports
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Options for the Wild Wild West
By Wild on Sports Analyst Aaron Dorman

A look at possible trade scenarios in the AL West for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. It is looking more and more like it is not a matter of if, just a matter of when.

1. Angels trade of Vernon Wells for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Vernon Wells has opened eyes with his rebound this year, now nearly two months young. He’s knocking the ball around, hitting for average, showing strong defense, and generally showing off the skills that got him an ill-advised 8-year contract. Now, he’s doing it all with the Yankees, but the Angels are still bankrolling most of this, so all the parties involved could presumably work something out. The 2013 version of Wells would be a strong replacement for Stanton, who has not been healthy this year and certainly could not give Miami an equal amount of veteran leadership. Stanton’s presence would allow the Angels to trade Josh Hamilton somewhere so that HE could get his OBP above .300 too just like Wells.

WHY IT WON’T: Is it worth thinking seriously about if the Angels could actually get Stanton? Their best prospect Kaleb Cowart has played two months above A-ball and might…MIGHT…be one of the top 75 prospects in baseball, pre-draft. Could Peter Bourjos be the centerpiece of a deal? Or “Hammerin’ ” Hank Conger? They wouldn’t seriously consider trading a pitcher, young or old, would they? When their depth is such that Joe Blanton is still starting for them every fifth day?

Tragically, the Angels MIGHT have been players for something, if not Stanton than a guy like Chase Headley, if they had held onto Jean Segura and his .350 batting average, but alas he is playing for Milwaukee as part of the package for Zack Greinke, a move that now looks rather foolish. The Angels can’t trade Segura, or Vernon Wells, or anyone else, for Stanton. Not this year.

PROGNOSIS: MONEY CAN’T BUY YOU EVERYTHING

2. Athletics
trade of Michael Choice, rhp Michael Ynoa and ss Addison Russell for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: This trade looks light by the standards of pre-2013 prospect lists but flash forward to today and it’s as a fairly competitive idea for a trade package. If Miami wants more players, or more guarantee of at least one successful big leaguers, Oakland could possibly throw Dan Straily into the mix, or swap out Choice with a middle infielder. Russell is a teenager who turned heads last year but is currently struggling to make contact in high-A. He’s still 19 and so there’s plenty of time for him to work on a skillset that could lead to an all-star shortstop. Choice and Ynoa are both high-profile signings who’ve struggled with injuries in the past but are currently enjoying bounce back and/or breakthrough seasons. Choice is showing good power in AAA but he’s blocked for now, while Ynoa is blowing away hitters down in low-A ball. As for Stanton, his tendency to homer, walk, or strike out is as “Moneyball” as it gets and Oakland currently lacks star power behind Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes.

WHY IT WON’T: Oakland doesn’t need outfielders. They have plenty. Sure, Chris Young will hit free agency and Seth Smith isn’t really blocking anyone long-term but if Coco Crisp is healthy, and Choice is ready, than Oakland can turn to other needs, such as pitching depth or a real second baseman. Also, these are the Athletics; Billy Beane doesn’t build his team around big (read: expensive) stars. The only time he trades for guys like Stanton are if they are close to free agency, and thus can either a) net a draft pick or b) get swapped again for prospects if Oakland isn’t contending. That’s how they handled Johnny Damon, how they handled Matt Holliday, and how they’ll probably operate in the foreseeable future. Oakland is a near lock to have Stanton someday: but probably when he’s 39 and teams are undervaluing his aging skillset.

PROGNOSIS: UNLIKELY TRADING PARTNERS

3. Astros trade of George Springer, ss Jon Villar, rhp Jared Cosart, and of Marc Krauss for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Well, the Astros are loaded with prospects right now. They could probably match and top any offer made by anyone else as long as only minor leaguers are included. Last year’s top pick Carlos Correa is the only current contender for real blue-chip status but they’ve got at least a half dozen guys who have star potential at various places around the diamond, and a whole army of second-tier B-grade guys who can fill out a package. Houston could probably find use for Stanton on a team that’s winning about 25 percent of its games. That is, unless they want to “beat” the 1962 Mets’ record.

WHY IT WON’T: GM Jeff Luhnow has looked smart so far, stocking up prospects and outlining a real future for this team, but one thing he’s made abundantly clear by the product that is currently on the field at Minute Maid Park is that the Astros are not playing for tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. This team is not one Giancarlo Stanton away from being good. This team is about six Giancarlo Stantons away from being good. And they might have that somewhere down on the farm. But management won’t trade those guys away for the ACTUAL Giancarlo Stanton. Although I think I might have seen Mike Stanton warming up for them in the bullpen.

PROGNOSIS: IF STANTON IS TRADED FROM MIAMI TO HOUSTON HE’D PROBABLY JUST QUIT BASEBALL ANYWAY

4. Mariners trade rhp Tijuan Walker, lhp Tyler Pike, and “C” Jesus Montero for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: Walker would give Miami a second young ace to build around (with “J-Fern”), Montero would give Miami a potential future first basemen who is currently suffering from the twin burdens of catching and trying to hit in Safeco Field, and Pike is a wild card, a teenage lefty in low-A who could blossom over the next year or so. That should be enough to get Stanton, who would be the new centerpiece of Seattle’s lineup, a team that has been cycling through a lot of those lately. The difference here though is that Stanton’s already hit over 30 Home Runs for a big league team.

WHY IT WON’T: Even if you substitute Montero for some other hitting prospects (another pitcher? Infielder Stefen Romero? Brad Miller?) the Mariners can’t really afford to give up much on offense, even in a trade for Stanton. They have had a terrible time developing good hitters once they come to Safeco, either through the draft (Dustin Ackley) or a trade (Justin Smoak, Montero) and currently have just one usable major league lineup piece under contract beyond this year (that would be the underrated Kyle Seager). Even if they can acquire Stanton, they still need to find some young hitters who can be assets on offense. They have some very promising prospects at AAA right now, but just a year or two ago guys like Ackley were in the same position. Seattle might be in a better position to trade for Stanton after the season, but for now it might make more sense for them to hold on to their upper-level minor leaguers and see how they play out the year.

PROGNOSIS: POSSIBLE TRADING PARTNERS


5. Rangers trade rhp Justin Grimm, lhp Martin Perez, 1b/3b Mike Olt, 2b Rougned Odor, and of Lewis Brinson for of Giancarlo Stanton

OR

Rangers trade ss Jurickson Profar and any B-level prospect lying around for of Giancarlo Stanton

WHY IT WORKS: How good a fit is Texas for Stanton? Let’s start with the options they have to trade with. Texas is so stacked at both the major and minor league level that they can try to acquire Stanton in two ways, either by offering the next Hanley Ramirez (Profar) or by dealing in bulk. The Rangers roster currently includes a number of rookies or near-rookies who are off to very good starts, but are nearly luxuries on a team that is winning 65 percent of its games and yet doesn’t even have their full arsenal of arms healthy and ready to go yet. That means they can offer some extra guarantee that they’d be dealing major leaguers, to go with whatever promising players from their prospect stash are also included. Texas has a clear need for another outfielder too, or at least an obvious fit for one, as David Murphy is struggling and the Leonys Martin/Craig Gentry tag team is still a bit questionable on offense. Nelson Cruz will also be a free agent this winter. And even though Texas is winning handily, do they not still miss that extra bit of superstar fairy dust they lost when Josh Hamilton departed?

WHY IT WON’T: There really isn’t any reason. Texas might feel strong enough about their team to not make a deal. It’s possible they don’t want to get locked into Stanton after so generously extending Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison. But destiny beckons.

PROGNOSIS: LIKELIEST (!!!) OF TRADING PARTNERS

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