Sure, the rumors about Giancarlo Stanton were fun during a pretty cold-stove winter. And the Giants front office doing everything they could to get in the mix and stay there made things a little more fun.
It gave some hope that the Giants weren’t quite as done as they really are. If they believed in the team, as it stands now, so much that they were willing to spend a ton of money on a big contract like Stanton’s, then hey, maybe things aren’t that bad.
Stanton chose to go to the Yankees, though. As a fan and ardent defender of the Warriors’ Kevin Durant, I cannot in good conscience complain about that decision. Athletes are people and they have the right to choose where they want to play when given that opportunity.
More than that, Emma Span recently posted this on Twitter:
Stanton was very smart about his contract. He believed the Marlins were serious about wanting to win soon and build around him, but he was careful to protect himself in case they weren't, and rightfully so. pic.twitter.com/FNYeMT47p0— Emma Span (@emmaspan) December 9, 2017
Stanton spent his career thus far on a team that was in a near constant state of rebuild, a team that he believed was committed to winning due to the amount of money they signed him for, but he took precautions. And that was a smart move, because that team is now facing yet another rebuild.
What appeal would a 98-loss team have for him? Or for any other available player?
Bryan and I argued about this on the McCovey Chroncast, Bryan insisted that the Giants would try to spin the fact that they didn’t lose 100 games as a positive, whereas I insisted that they could not spin 98 losses into anything better than it is. And I appear to be right. Free agents may hear the Giants out, but they do not want to sign with them.
Sure, spin may work for wealthy season ticket holders, but it isn’t going to work for top-tier free agents or players with a no-trade clause like Stanton.
Stanton chose to approve a trade that would send him to a team that was doing better than they were expected to. A team that surprised everyone with a deep postseason run that came earlier than projected. And that makes sense as a landing place for him.
So now, the big question is, what do the Giants do? Do they embrace the inevitable or do they try to be competitive with their core for one more season and see what happens?
I, for one, do not see them being willing to blow up the ship just yet. Their bread and butter in terms of fan interest is still revolving around a pretty good core of guys. Unless they want to drive away every fan they have left, they are not trading Posey, Bumgarner, or the Brandons.
I think it’s fair to assume that 2017 was a bit of an outlier — as it was in most things — and I’m happy enough to try a do-over in 2018. But it is hard to argue that a rebuild isn’t coming. And it’s wrong to be angry at Stanton for sensing that as well. A band-aid isn’t going to fix the bullet-hole.
Not to mention the fact that Stanton had apparently given the Marlins a list of teams he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause for and the Cardinals and the Giants were not on the list. Nevertheless, Miami decided to line up potential trades with them and have him meet with them, all the while knowing he was not interested. So that’s more on Miami than Stanton.
Stanton, at Yankees press conference, said Giants/Cardinals meetings went well but they were never on his list to waive no-trade clause. "I was open to listening ... that just wasn't a fit for me."— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) December 11, 2017
It’s honestly surprising that Stanton even met with either team, as he reiterated at Monday’s press conference that he wanted to join a team that was already ready to compete, as opposed to a team that needed another piece to get there.
This entire situation is pretty ridiculous:
The backstory of the Giancarlo Stanton trade is bonkers. Miami threatened that if he didn’t accept a trade to St. Louis or San Francisco, he would be a Marlin for life. He called their bluff. And because of it, he’s a New York Yankee.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2017
Imagine threatening your star player with the terrible fate of ... continuing to play for your team? The level of incompetence involved on Miami’s part would be astounding if it were any time in history other than the one we are currently living in.
Ultimately, it isn’t fair to blame Stanton for not wanting to come to San Francisco. He clearly never wanted to in the first place and we were foolish enough to get our hopes up despite the cold, grim, reality staring us in the face.
His decision makes a lot of baseball sense, given his circumstances. We can only take solace in the fact that he chose an American League team on the other side of the country. The Not-Dodgers win again, and in this day and age, that is the best we can really hope for.