ST. LOUIS — Once upon a time, the St. Louis Cardinals went all in on Giancarlo Stanton.
The former Miami Marlins slugger was prepping for departure from South Beach and courting offers, because he held all the cards due to an ironclad no trade clause. John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. made the best pitch to Miami for Stanton's services, and the slugger watched it go by for a ball.
Stanton would accept a trade to the New York Yankees later that winter two years ago, and things haven't gone quite as expected out east. After a solid if not robust 2018 season where Stanton put up an OPS of .852 and fWAR of 4.3, he missed the majority of the 2019 season. The New York media, wait for this, hasn't exactly been kind to Stanton's less than superstar status that came with a mega contract. The Yankees won 103 games and made it deep into the playoffs without him.
So, does that mean the Cardinals could swoop back in and offer New York a trade for Stanton? Would he accept it now? Scott Wuerz of the Belleville News-Democrat offered up the idea on Monday about a potential deal, and let's just say the warming gates of Cardinal Nation were up in arms about it.
Do I think a Stanton deal could take place? Before I answer that, allow me to tell you why the idea isn't full-blown insane.
Just two years ago, the Cardinals were ready to take on all the entire contract. Just like that. They are also in need of outfield help, the big-time variety, and they don't exactly have eyes for Marcell Ozuna-the Stanton rebound move-these days.
There's the opt-out clause in Stanton's contract that kicks in after the 2020 season, and while I initially thought this would be a stopping point for St. Louis, maybe they embrace the "one last ride" approach with aging vets like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and truly go for it next year.
While the idea is more far-fetched than sound, it's not 100% impossible, which makes it fun chatter to warm the kettle for the hot stove season.
Having said that, I don't see it happening. It's just highly unlikely, and there are reasons for that.
1. Stanton turns 30 in a little over two weeks. A man who has missed chunks of four seasons in his career, albeit due to some freak injuries, carries a red tag once he climbs into that feared age bracket. If the Cardinals were smelling the roses a couple years ago, these days would be a different story.
2. If they didn't give Bryce Harper, a younger and just as exciting outfielder, the big contract last winter, why would they bother with an older Stanton? Harper would have only cost money. Stanton comes with a price tag and player expenses. DeWitt Jr. isn't the easiest person to bring back to the table, especially for a guaranteed $244 million. That's right, calculator ninjas. If the Cardinals would buy out Stanton's age 38 season in 2028, they'd still have to hand him $10 million to walk away.
3. The trade pieces don't work. Wuerz made a claim that sending Matt Carpenter and a prospect would get it done. I don't think many teams a defensively-challenged and possible declining infielder with a couple years left. While Carp would love that short porch in right, the prospect that would come along with him couldn't be a throw-in. St. Louis will most likely have to eat that Carp extension as he stays in the Midwest. The Yankees are letting a big bat, injury-prone or not, walk. Do you think the Cardinals allow an outfield prospect to go for possibly one year of Stanton? Debatable.
4. The Cardinals were turned away by Stanton once, so do you think they just come back and take him now? Sometimes, being turned away can leave a bad taste in their mouth?
5. Do you really think they make this trade for a 30-year-old with eight guaranteed seasons left on his deal? Check history and get back to me.
Look, I love Stanton. I really do. At his best, he's a superstar talent. A stick of dynamite in a lineup begging for one. A marquee face, the biggest one on a summer blockbuster movie. He put up a WAR of 6.8 and 7.3 once upon a time and won the MVP award in 2018. He hits homers, gets on base, and plays a decent outfield. As the kids say, the prospect of him manning left field for St. Louis is dope.
But I think the ship has sailed on a Cardinals-Stanton romance. They were all in once, aiming to make the biggest deal in franchise history, and he was in a New York state of mind instead. Some things change, but feelings evolve every single day. For my money, I don't see the Cardinals looking that hard at Stanton again.
For that reason and the ones stated above, in classic shark tank fashion, I believe the Cardinals are out of the Giancarlo Stanton acquisition business.
It would have been nice. Trust me. He would have shined like a brand-new penny in a Cardinal uniform. Sadly, that will be eternal fan fiction.
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