Welcome to hunting season, Cardinals fans. The wait is over, the time to fester over strategy is gone and the process of reformatting this team for another World Series has begun. As Lawrence Tierney once said to a group of reservoir dogs, "Let's get to work."
The Cardinals won the coaching change offseason by bringing back Jose Oquendo and acquiring Willie McGee and Mike Maddux — but they have work to do in reshaping this lineup for a comeback.
Let's be clear: the Cardinals need to trade for Giancarlo Stanton, the Miami Marlins superstar with a desire to play in front of more than 15,000 fans and actually compete for a title before he's 35.
Sure, the Cardinals could sign Eric Hosmer, a Matt Carpenter replicant who isn't much better than No. 13. They could sign Greg Holland, a 32-year-old closer whose arm may not be as sharp as it looks. Michael Girsch could bring in J.D. Martinez for six years and $180 million.
But neither of those players gives you the substantial impact that Stanton brings, and I am looking at this from a marketing standpoint and winning point of view. Stanton changes things in a big way, but what would it take to get him.
First, there's the contract, which includes ten more guaranteed seasons for a grand total of $285 million with a 2028 option of $25 million more attached to it (10 million dollar buyout). Right off the bat, Miami has to know they are eating at least $60 million of that contract, especially if they want a few players in return.
Christian Yelich is a fine ballplayer and Marcel Ozuna can mash, but they don't take enough money off the books for Derek Jeter's new ownership group, so it's going to be Stanton leaving. With three years left before the slugger can opt out of his contract, the time to deal him is now.
What would it take to acquire Stanton, in addition to the $220 million being shoved into his bank account? A combination of players that would NOT include Alex Reyes or Carlos Martinez.
Unless the Marlins wanted to eat $80 million or more of his contract and ask for nobody else, Reyes isn't going to South Beach. It simply doesn't make sense for the Cardinals to deal away their future #2 starter for even a star like Stanton. Miami isn't that stupid, so let's move on.
A package could include Stephen Piscotty, who has a friendly contract and could pair well with Yelich and Ozuna, and give the Marlins a formidable outfield. It's not outside the box to think Piscotty could benefit from a fresh start and return to his 2016 ways. He could even move his mother down to warm and sunny Miami to live with him as she battles ALS.
The Cardinals could also send second baseman Kolten Wong to Miami, giving the Marlins a replacement for the eventual loss of Dee Gordon (who could hop on the plane to St. Louis if he liked). Wong showed a lot of improvement in 2017, albeit spending a fair portion of it on the disabled list. Wong also has a team friendly contract that benefits the Marlins. The Cardinals have a clog in their infield, and could easily replace Wong's production and receive better defense with Jedd Gyorko taking over full-time duties at second, with Paul DeJong settling in at shortstop. Heck, Aledmys Diaz could even exist as a fallback option if Gyorko got hurt.
Miami would still want some pitching, so the Cardinals would have to send either Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver, or Dakota Hudson in the trade, and that's fine because the Cardinals have pitching pipeline that keeps churning out talented arms. If there's one area that no soul can touch John Mozeliak, it's the ability to find and mold great pitching. The Cardinals have merely spent the past two years in a transition mode, and then Reyes got hurt, so there's been a delay, but that plane is soon moving off the tarmac.
If the Cardinals send Piscotty, Wong, and Flaherty to the Marlins for Stanton, Miami could eat some of the contract, and each side wins big. The Cardinals could even toss in Randal Grichuk, because there's no future for him in St. Louis, and the Marlins could then have a cheaper replacement for Ozuna if they dealt him.
So, let's recap.
Cardinals get Giancarlo Stanton, 60+ million dollars, and possibly Dee Gordon.
Marlins get Stephen Piscotty, Kolten Wong, Jack Flaherty or Dakota Hudson, and possibly Randal Grichuk.
*If the Cardinals do take Gordon, the cash return would decrease, but Miami would be shedding $37 million in the process, so it's not far far-fetched.
I understand that you look at the Cardinals acquiring a big money bat with the same skepticism that you'd have with ABC stopping production Grey's Anatomy, but the time is now for the big transaction.
The Chicago Cubs are going to hang around contention, but their stranglehold on the NL Central is loosening by the year, so close the gap and actually move ahead now! The Cardinals can position themselves for a long run if they acquire Stanton and/or Gordon, because their pitching is going to make some noise in the latter parts of 2018 and beyond.
It can't be one and done with a Stanton acquisition, but you'd sure send a statement to the rest of the league that the hiatus is over, and the Birds on the Bat are back and better than ever.
Also, as my good friend Moz Algorithm pointed out, there's extra reward in bringing Stanton over. Let's just say home run milestones will be met before he has a chance to opt out...
Giancarlo Stanton sits at 267 career HR. He will most likely hit #300 in 2018. The #STLCards could cash in on #400 and #500 and possibly #600. Moments we didn’t get to share (500 & 600) with Albert. pic.twitter.com/IX84cKhYo2— Mo's Algorithm (@MozAlgorithm) November 9, 2017
And what if Stanton opts out? Well, you get the best three years of his career,. The premium cuts. Every reward includes a fair dose of calculated risk.
You wanted to know what it would take to get Stanton and I have given you an idea. Don't hate the make-believe messenger, hate the process.
It's time for Bill DeWitt Jr. to put his money where his mouth is. If you want to be a true winning franchise, go for the biggest prize instead of settling for participation trophies.