Does he prefer the Golden Gate Bridge over the Green Monster and Gateway Arch? Does he fancy toasted ravioli over clam chowder and cheesesteak sandwiches?
When and if it comes to trading Giancarlo Stanton -- to St. Louis, to San Francisco, to Boston, to Philadelphia, or to wherever -- the decision will ultimately rest on his broad shoulders.
The full no-trade provision in Stanton’s contract gives him final say on whatever deal the Marlins are able to work out for him, veto power that puts him in the drivers’ seat.
“He’s got complete power,” said a former front-office executive. “Giancarlo’s running the show.”
Hypothetically, the Marlins could receive four trade offers and Stanton might only accept the one that provides the worst return. Or he could refuse to go anywhere else, choosing instead to remain in Miami and luxuriate in the three-story penthouse he bought there recently.
“I’d say that’s definitely a possibility,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Monday, the first day of the General Managers Meetings. “That’s why I don’t like to comment on rumors because you never know how things are going to play out.”
Hill said the Marlins have an idea of which teams Stanton would accept in a trade.
“I do have a sense, and we’ll keep that internal, and at the appropriate time we’ll discuss whatever we need to discuss,” Hill said.
It’s all part of the challenge the Marlins have in trying to trade their elite slugger, who led the Majors with 59 home runs last season but comes with a hefty price tag, a $295 million contract most teams are unwilling to touch.
“No-trade clauses are fun the day you sign them,” the former executive said. “But then things like this happen and you’re, ‘Oh (expletive).’”
For years, the Marlins had a standing policy of not granting no-trade protection to any players signed to long-term deals. Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes wanted no-trade wording put into their contracts when they signed with Miami in 2011, and the Marlins refused with each.
After one season in Miami, both were traded.
It became a challenge for the Marlins to deal former catcher Charles Johnson to the Rockies in 2002, all because Johnson had full no-trade rights built into his contract. Johnson refused to agree to the trade at first and waived his rights only after the Marlins offered to give him an extra $1 million to leave.
But the Marlins, in order to sign Stanton in 2014, caved in on his demands and gave him no-trade protection.
“We were trying to sign the player and felt that was the best way to make that happen,” Hill said. “Ultimately, we felt comfortable enough to make the deal and made the deal.”
Now the Marlins, who are trying to cut payroll to about $90 million next season, could have trouble not only finding another team willing to take on all or most of Stanton’s future salary, but also finding one to his liking.
The Cardinals and Giants are thought to be most interested in Stanton. Philadelphia is considered a long shot among teams most often linked to him, as the Phillies are in rebuilding mode and Stanton would prefer to play for a winner.
But does he want to play in either St. Louis or San Francisco? Or Boston?
That decision is Stanton’s, and Stanton’s alone.
▪ Derek Jeter, the Marlins’ part-owner and chief executive office, is putting in his hours at the ballpark.
“He’s in the office everyday,” Hill said.
▪ When asked if Wei-Yin Chen would be ready for spring training, Hill replied: “I hope.”
The oft-injured southpaw missed most of last season and part of the previous one due to arm issues. Hill said Chen has been rehabbing in his native Taiwan but will return to the U.S. sometime in the near future and continue his rehab work in California.
▪ Hill said he and Jeter both spoke to Ichiro Suzuki in person when they informed him the team wasn’t exercising its option to keep him in Miami.
“We felt it was only right that we did it in person,” Hill said. “We paid him that respect and thanked him for all that he did in the time he was a Miami Marlin.”