Sept 5, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) at bat against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Rays Make a Run at the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton?

Even while the Miami Marlins conducted their fire-sale this offseason, one player remained off-limits: outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton, who turned 23 a little over a month ago, missed a little over a month after undergoing knee surgery but still had a huge season, hitting to a .290/.361/.608 line (158 OPS+) with 37 home runs and 86 RBI in 123 games and 501 plate appearances. On a team that has traded away many of their core players, Stanton is one of the few Marlins players fans will recognize next season and certainly the only true star remaining. However, that may end soon. Jim Bowden of ESPN and Sirius XM tweeted that although the Marlins are not shopping Stanton and would rather not trade him, they are listening to offers from other teams. It could be only a matter of time before the right package of players is put on the table and the Marlins pull the trigger on yet another franchise-defining trade. Could the Rays be one of the teams dangling a staggering amount of young talent in an attempt to make one of the best young sluggers in baseball all their own?

Giancarlo Stanton is quite a player- and the cost to get him will be quite steep. Look at the short list of players who hit more than 35 homers in a season at 22 years old or younger.

Rk Player HR ▾ Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Eddie Mathews 47 1953 21 MLN NL 157 681 579 110 175 135 .302 .406 .627 1.033
2 Joe DiMaggio 46 1937 22 NYY AL 151 692 621 151 215 167 .346 .412 .673 1.085
3 Johnny Bench 45 1970 22 CIN NL 158 671 605 97 177 148 .293 .345 .587 .932
4 Juan Gonzalez 43 1992 22 TEX AL 155 632 584 77 152 109 .260 .304 .529 .833
5 Mel Ott 42 1929 20 NYG NL 150 675 545 138 179 151 .328 .449 .635 1.084
6 Alex Rodriguez 42 1998 22 SEA AL 161 748 686 123 213 124 .310 .360 .560 .919
7 Eddie Mathews 40 1954 22 MLN NL 138 600 476 96 138 103 .290 .423 .603 1.026
8 Boog Powell 39 1964 22 BAL AL 134 506 424 74 123 99 .290 .399 .606 1.005
9 Frank Robinson 38 1956 20 CIN NL 152 667 572 122 166 83 .290 .379 .558 .936
10 Jimmie Foxx 37 1930 22 PHA AL 153 674 562 127 188 156 .335 .429 .637 1.066
11 Ted Williams 37 1941 22 BOS AL 143 606 456 135 185 120 .406 .553 .735 1.287
12 Albert Pujols 37 2001 21 STL NL 161 676 590 112 194 130 .329 .403 .610 1.013
13 Giancarlo Stanton 37 2012 22 MIA NL 123 501 449 75 130 86 .290 .361 .608 .969
14 Alex Rodriguez 36 1996 20 SEA AL 146 677 601 141 215 123 .358 .414 .631 1.045
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/31/2012.

Everyone other than Gonzalez, Powell, and Stanton is a Hall of Famer or a future one (Rodriguez and Pujols). It’s hard to find a better list of 12 players than this (Matthews and Rodriguez make the list twice). When you’re talking about a player with as much power as Stanton at such a young age, we’re talking about a player who could be a superstar for years and years to come. And to get him, it’s going to take quite a return. We’re talking about the Rays trading a starting outfielder, Desmond Jennings or Matt Joyce, three young pitchers at the big leagues or close to it, say Chris Archer, Alex Colome, and Enny Romero, and then another top prospect, say Hak-Ju Lee. That sounds crazy, but could also still be understating what it could take. By the way, the Marlins will also probably make the acquiring team take on the last year of Ricky Nolasco‘s contract at 11.5 million dollars. What we’re talking about here is a team sacrificing young major league players and several top prospects at the upper levels of the minor leagues. The reward, though, could be unbelievable. Imagine the Rays with their pitching and one of the best lineups in baseball. A Stanton trade could make that possible. That being said, would it be worth it for the Rays to pursue that type of deal?

Giancarlo Stanton hit 37 home runs in 2012. The Rays acquired an outfielder this offseason who also hit 37 home runs in 2012: Wil Myers. Myers, believe it or not, has the ability to be even better than Stanton. He has less raw power- it took him 90 more plate appearances than Stanton to hit the same number of home runs and we’re talking Triple-A versus the big leagues- but he also shows better pitch recognition, the ability to hit for a higher average, and better defense. Can Myers get there? There’s certainly no guarantee he will and there’s a very good chance that he won’t. No matter what happens, though, the Rays acquired him at exactly right time, with his ability standing out as much as ever but his lack of major league experience keeping his value at a fraction of what it could be in a year. The Rays were able to acquire Myers without risking everything to win now, in fact doing the opposite as they acquired Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard for James Shields and Wade Davis. That trade may represent a slight downgrade for the Rays in the immediate future, but it also gives them a good chance of significantly improving their ballclub within two or three years as Myers and the other prospects develop into productive big league players- and the Rays think that all of them, especially Myers, can be much more.

Acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, no matter what it would take, would make the Rays a much better team right now. The Rays understand, though, that in all probability it is not the right move for them to make. Their goal is not to acquire a player like Stanton at peak value, risking the future to go all in right now, but instead to find the next Stanton, a player like Myers who can help them become one of the best teams in baseball for the foreseeable future. There’s an extremely small chance that the Rays will be acquiring Giancarlo Stanton over the next few weeks and months. However, in acquiring Wil Myers, they may have just done something better.

Tags: Giancarlo Stanton Miami Marlins Tampa Bay Rays Wil Myers

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