The ball is officially in Giancarlo Stanton's court.

The Cardinals have officially pushed their chips to the middle of the poker table, ladies and gentlemen. Silencing the doubts of many in Cardinal Nation, the front office has reportedly offered more money for the services of Stanton, as well as prospects involved in the deal, national sports radio host Craig Mish said on Twitter Sunday.

For years, the narrative among Cardinals fans was simple: the team wouldn't go the extra mile in pursuing the top free agents and players via trade. They were "second-place finishers" to many. In reality, John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. were separating credible from crazy.

They didn't go overboard on Boston Red Sox pitcher, David Price. They wouldn't give Jason Heyward his extra opt-out clauses. They didn't even try to go after Max Scherzer, who can't stop winning Cy Young awards.

Their approach, as is the case with most franchises, is hit and miss.

With Stanton, they are making a clear statement. They are going all in on a player with the potential to not only transform their lineup but also give their franchise and city a makeover. Imagine replacing your well-meaning and soundly working old Chevy truck with a Lexus SUV.

By offering more money than San Francisco and willing to part with the talented young flamethrower Sandy Alcantara, they are meeting both ends of the spectrum of high stakes sports trades. The Cardinals had the jump on the Giants prospect wise from the start, but it was never precise how much money they'd offer. The Giants were rumored to offer $250 million of Stanton's remaining $285 million on his contract. The Cardinals have now topped the Giants, reports say.

The Miami Marlins have approved of each offer from the Cardinals and Giants, meaning the decision rests solely on Stanton's shoulders. He's always had control with the no-trade clause outlawing a deal to a destination he didn't prefer. With the Los Angeles Dodgers lurking outside of the fence, this has been a two-team race up to this point. The Cardinals and Giants have shown the willingness to meet every demand Stanton would have.

While the Cardinals can't provide the California native an ocean or sandy beach, St. Louis offers him a fanbase that packs 40,000 bodies for even a Wednesday night game during the school year. They can offer him a team that didn't finish with 98 losses in 2017, but one managed to win 83 games in a "down year".

The Giants have shown an ability to bounce back quickly from a disappointing season, but Stanton won't take them from 64 wins to 94.

Translation: The Cardinals offer the better possibility to win with no chance of a rebuild. All this time, Stanton has stated he doesn't want to play for a rebuilding franchise and wants to win, but so did many players before him. No one really knows what he wants.

The Cardinals have reportedly offered to pay in cash and prospects, satisfying Stanton's current employers, and if Stanton's actual words hold true, St. Louis checks all the boxes. Keep in mind, Stanton has never been quoted as saying he didn't like St. Louis, even if he did reportedly turn down a trade to the Midwest in July. Have things changed? Again, only one man knows the answer, and it's Stanton.

What Cardinals fans found out this weekend is that there is no giving up in their team's efforts to make a major upgrade. If Stanton chooses San Francisco, Mozeliak and company can't be faulted. They did what many assumed they wouldn't: make the best possible pitch to a star player. Outside of ordering a thousand tons of sand to pour around the Arch and Laclede's Landing, the Cardinals have done everything possible.

Sure, Stanton could still choose the Giants and the Marlins would go for it. If San Francisco was offering $250 million and a slew of players, Miami would take what they could get in order to cut Stanton's large contract.

Whether or not this winter witnesses the arrival of the MVP in St. Louis, the "second place" narrative is officially dead, so let's scrap it please. Let's stop pretending that every free agent and top player wasn't considered to play in St. Louis. Mozeliak and Girsch, against all odds and perceptions, know what they are doing.

Now, St. Louis and San Francisco wait. Stanton won't take long. He'll weigh the options, looking at the cities and determining where his ultimate desires lie. Sooner or later, possibly by Wednesday, he will make a decision. It would be nice to see the Cardinals win a high stakes battle over the Giants for a change.

Cardinals fans are waiting as well, but at least they can go to sleep at night knowing their team went all in on the best talent available. While not the win people want, it's a great start to the offseason.