Why a Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich trade makes sense for both Phillies and Marlins

Why a Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich trade makes sense for both Phillies and Marlins

Ken Rosenthal, who now no longer writes for Fox Sports, posted a long, juicy report Wednesday night on Facebook that involves the Phillies, Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.

From Rosenthal:

"When I first heard the trade concept — heard it from three different sources — I thought, 'Whoa. Interesting.' It’s interesting, all right. Damn interesting. And though the idea is extremely unlikely to advance — at least in its entirety — it is worthy of further discussion, simply because of the insight it provides into the two clubs involved.

"The concept was this: Marlins outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to the Phillies, with the Phillies absorbing the remainder of the two contracts — Stanton’s monster deal through 2027 (he can opt out after '20) and Yelich’s below-market deal through 2021.

"A potential $339.5 million, for those keeping score — a massive sum that surely would have limited the Marlins’ prospect return if the conversations ever got started, which, according to sources, they did not. The Phils kicked around the concept internally, sources said."

Well, hot diggity. Let's take a look at this one.

Why it makes sense for the Marlins
The perpetually reloading Marlins are 41-46 with little shot at making the playoffs. They received impressive first halves from Marcell Ozuna, Justin Bour, Stanton and J.T. Realmuto and solid production from Yelich and Dee Gordon. And yet they're nine games out of the second wild-card spot.

If the Miami front office is being realistic, then it knows changes need to be made. Stanton stayed healthy in the first half, five other starting position players hit well, and they're still not a contender. If the realistic ceiling of a team with a lineup this deep is to hover around .500, then what's the point? Especially when you're not selling tickets, and especially with an ownership change coming in the near future.

If the Marlins trade Stanton, it wouldn't be because they doubt his abilities moving forward. It would be because of that gargantuan contract and the fact that Stanton has played more than 123 games just twice in his eight seasons.

Miami may also be dubious that Stanton will stay healthier as he ages. Few athletes do. Plus, he's such a big guy with so much swing-and-miss in his game that by, say 2024, this might be an Albert Pujols-like situation.

The contracts
Stanton signed a 13-year, $325 million contract prior to the 2015 season. The first three years of the deal are by far the cheapest. Here's how it plays out:

2015: $6.5M
2016: $9M
2017: $14.5M
2018: $25M
2019: $26M
2020: $26M
2021: $29M
2022: $29M
2023: $32M
2024: $32M
2025: $32M
2026: $29M
2027: $25M
2028: $25M club option ($10M buyout)

If that doesn't make your head spin ...

Stanton has a full no-trade clause, and he can opt out of this contract after the 2020 season. Though there's probably no chance he does opt out because he'll be 31 years old with eight guaranteed years and $244 million left on his deal. As sought-after as Stanton is, there's a near-zero-percent chance any other team gives him that deal at 31.

Trading Stanton would be such a typical Marlins move. Give a guy a huge, backloaded contract, pay him during the inexpensive years, trade him as soon as the annual salary skyrockets.

Yelich is on a much team-friendlier deal. He signed a seven-year deal prior to 2015 worth just under $50 million. From 2018-21, he's owed a total of $44.5 million. There's also a 2022 club option worth $15 million.

Yelich is the more appealing player even though Stanton is the bigger offensive difference-maker. Yelich is younger, has a better contract, has been healthier, and though he doesn't come close to matching Stanton's power, he's a more consistent offensive player.

Phillies' valuation of Stanton and Yelich
The Phillies' previous front office loved Stanton and probably would have overpaid for him in a trade.

The Phillies' current front office values raw power less and the hit tool more. It's why they've drafted Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley — who both drew Yelich comparisons — in the first round the last two years. It's why you hear Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail speak so often about "controlling the strike zone."

Yelich controls the strike zone. He's a .291 career hitter with a .376 OBP, and he's walked 70-plus times in two of his last three full seasons. He runs deep counts, is comfortable hitting with two strikes and though he'll whiff some, he doesn't run egregiously high strikeout totals. 

Stanton does not control the strike zone as well. He hits the ball so incredibly hard when he makes contact that his balls in play fall for hits more often than they do for others, but he strikes out a lot and when he's cold, he's an easy out. Pitchers routinely attack Stanton with breaking balls on the outside corner. He's so big and his bat is so long that he often thinks he can reach that pitch, but he rarely does. 

Any team would love to have Stanton, but you have to surround him with the right kind of team. If you have several undisciplined hitters in the lineup ahead of him or behind him, you're going to have many quick innings, many low-scoring nights and a lot of strikeouts. Of course, you're also going to have a lot of fun nights filled with home runs.

Why it makes sense for the Phillies
The Phillies' future payroll sheet is as blank as it gets. They owe Odubel Herrera $3.5 million in 2018, they're responsible for $2.5 million of Cole Hamels' deal and that is literally it. 

Even when you account for arbitration raises (Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp), and the minimum-type salaries paid to Hector Neris, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola, Tommy Joseph, Aaron Altherr and Andrew Knapp, they're looking at a payroll of approximately $25-30 million. 

Thus, they could absorb and pay Stanton's bloated contract. They might not want that sort of commitment, but they're in the position to take it on.

We've heard a lot about the 2018 free-agent class, which includes two young stars in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. If nothing materializes with this Marlins trade idea, the Phils could take their chances and hope to land Harper or Machado 17 months from now. But there's obviously no guarantee they land either player.

What might Phillies have to give up?
In Rosenthal's post, he writes that the Marlins would be wise to trade Stanton and Yelich in separate packages. It would allow them to recoup prospects for Yelich, which would be more difficult to do if they're attaching Stanton's contract to him.

If the Phillies did decide to make an offer for both players, they'd have to pay the salaries and also give up several young players. 

Would something like Franco, Velasquez, another pitcher and two outfielders from the Herrera-Nick Williams-Dylan Cozens-Roman Quinn group get it done?

The Marlins would have to think long and hard about that sort of offer. They'd get younger and cheaper while adding major-league-ready pieces. They probably want pitching more than anything else.

This is all a worthwhile exercise because the Marlins have what many regard as the worst farm system in baseball and a way to go about fixing it. The Phillies have quantity of prospects but a barren major-league roster.

Rosenthal wouldn't have reported this if there wasn't a chance, however small, of something potentially happening. Remember, he was lambasted once upon a time for proposing the idea that the Phillies could trade Cliff Lee in their efforts to acquire Roy Halladay. How'd that one turn out?

Also remember, of course, that 28 other teams could make a push for Stanton and/or Yelich. Everyone knows the Marlins will listen to offers and there will be no shortage of GMs checking in on what it would take to pry them away.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.