What began as a happy marriage between the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton is turning into a messy divorce. Three years after signing the slugger to a record contract — a deal that was to make Stanton a “Marlin for life” — the Marlins are having trouble getting rid of him.
On Friday, Stanton informed the Giants and Cardinals — the two teams known to have an agreement in place to acquire the slugger from the Marlins — he would not waive his no-trade clause to play for them.
That decision left the Marlins in limbo, struggling to find a trade partner while increasing the chances that Stanton remains in Miami. If that turns out to be the case, the Marlins would likely gut the roster, slashing their top-paid players in order to accommodate Stanton’s $25 million salary next season.
There were reports that Stanton could be holding out to play for one of his preferred teams, the Dodgers or Yankees. But interest by both of those financially challenged teams has been lukewarm at best.
“Unfortunately we were not able to convince Stanton to waive his no-trade clause and join the Cardinals,” St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “We felt this was a great landing spot for him, but it was not meant to be.”
The Giants also issued a statement saying they were out of the running.
“Our agreement with the Marlins to acquire Giancarlo Stanton subject to his waiving of the no-trade clause will not move forward and it is our understanding that the Marlins and Stanton are exploring other options,” the statement read.
While Stanton has said he doesn’t want to be a part of a rebuild, he could find himself in the middle of one if he remains with the Marlins, who are trying to cut payroll.
They began that process on Thursday by trading second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle. More trades could happen in coming days with the approach of next week’s Winter Meetings.
Other players who could be traded include outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, as well as relievers Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa. It’s not out of the question that the Marlins would even trade inexpensive catcher J.T Realmuto, who would likely command a strong return in prospects.
For now, though, the Stanton saga continues — and could continue through the winter offseason.
The Cardinals and Giants had worked out trade agreements with the Marlins for Stanton, and met with the slugger in Los Angeles last week.
But Stanton used his veto power to block those deals.
Now the Marlins’ attention could turn to the Dodgers and Yankees, though working out deals with those teams will be difficult and likely require them to take back high-salaried players to offset Stanton’s contract — something the Marlins would prefer not to do.
In the end, Stanton could remain a Marlin, at least for one more season, and hope a team to his liking comes calling.
Craig Mish of Sirius XM reported that Stanton would accept trades to the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros and Cubs. But there has been no indication that any of those teams have had more than lukewarm interest in a trade for Stanton.
The Marlins’ suitors recognized the difficulty in acquiring Stanton.
After representatives for the Giants and Cardinals met with Stanton last week, Giants general manager Bobby Evans said “it’s his call as to ultimately what he wants to do.”
“It’s a tough decision for him,” Evans said. “He may take a lot of time before he’s ready to make that call.”
The Marlins have said little involving Stanton.
“I don’t comment on speculation,” Marlins president Michael Hill said Thursday. “When there is a need to make a statement, we’ll make a statement.”
Though the Cardinals are moving on from Stanton, they have been in discussions with the Marlins involving trades for the team’s two other outfielders, Ozuna and Yelich.
The Marlins covet the Cardinals’ top minor-league prospects and would likely receive a greater return for either Ozuna or Yelich than they would have for Stanton, whose expensive contract lessens the return in any trade package for him.