The Giants probably won’t trade for Giancarlo Stanton. But it sure sounds like they’re trying to.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve heard from multiple people some variation of, “The Giants are trying really, really, really hard to get Stanton, but they’re trying to play it cool.” If you don’t believe me (I’m not usually in the “sources tell me” business, so I’m not offended), note that this has been something Bob Nightengale has been tweeting for weeks, including on Tuesday morning.
The Miami Marlins are not close to trading Giancarlo Stanton but the #SFGiants have been the most aggressive team in trade talks.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 16, 2017
The Giants are Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits, and I think it’s adorable.
The reason this is something that’s impossible to keep quiet is that this is affecting every single thing the Giants are doing right now. Every trade, every free agent has to wait for a resolution on this. That means the Giants are telling agents and other GMs, “Yeah, maybe, but we kind of need to see about ... something ... first” to just about everything they’re presented with.
I can absolutely understand the desire for secrecy. It’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver when it comes to fans, and there also isn’t any additional leverage that’s gained from announcing to the world that Giancarlo Stanton is your only focus, and he simply must be yours.
At the same time, I can also understand why that secret becomes one of the worst-kept secrets of the offseason. It’s just too hard to pretend like the rest of the offseason is a normal, Stanton-free affair. And that’s before you get to the part where the Marlins might gain leverage by quietly letting other teams know that the Giants aren’t just poking around.
While the official McCovey Chronicles position is still “lol not happening,” I’m starting to come around, despite my better judgment. The first reason is that I can absolutely see the Giants considering this to be a once-in-a-several-decade opportunity, a chance to secure a potential Hall of Famer in his prime at the exact point when regional interest in the franchise is starting to wane.
The second reason is that I can see Giancarlo Stanton deciding that he wants to play in San Francisco for multiple reasons, and telling the Marlins to slow-play it if they need to, but to get it done. His no-trade clause makes him something like a free agent, and he gets the final decision. If he wants to play for the Giants, and if the Marlins are committed to shedding a substantial chunk of his contract, he can make it happen.
That written, I would very much like to pump the breaks on the idea that Stanton is obsessed with coming back to California. For one, he would lose more than a million dollars every year on taxes alone. For another, have you ever seen what a baseball player’s schedule is like? They get about two days off every six months. I can get wanting to be somewhere where you’re comfortable, but unless the player is going where his actual place of residence is — like, he gets to go to his bed that’s piled high with his favorite stuffies after 81 work nights a year — I can’t imagine making that the primary factor in his decision.
San Francisco is nice. I would live in Houston for an extra $2 million a year, though.
Or an extra $40,000.
They have good phở in Houston, so maybe an extra $10,000 and a bigger house, but we’re not talking about me.
I’m still holding true to the original analysis, which is that what the Giants want and what will actually happen are still far apart. Occam’s Razor still suggests that the Giants would want the Marlins to pay down Stanton’s contract significantly, and once they agree to that, other teams would be able to swoop in with better prospects.
The only counterpoint with that cynicism is that Stanton might not be interested in California as much as he’s interested as the Giants. He might like the park, the mostly filled stands, the idea of being the dinger savior for a franchise that has historically orbited the dinger sun. These are the Giants of Willie Mays and Barry Bonds, where the single-season and career records are kept. Maybe he’s wanted to play for the Giants since the first time he stepped foot in AT&T Park and tried to murder people screwing around on their phones during batting practice.
It could still happen. It probably won’t, but it could. From all indications, though, it sounds like the Giants are putting a lot of effort into this scenario, which suggests that ownership is very much on board. That’s definitely a significant change from what we thought we knew in July.