The last time the Cardinals made a move for a franchise-level talent, nobody really saw it coming. Sure, there were some “looks like Atlanta might be rebuilding, wouldn’t it be nice to get Jason Heyward?” talk, but when the trade happened, it appeared to come out of the blue. Four months earlier, in a somewhat shocking move, the Cardinals traded away Allen Craig and Joe Kelly for John Lackey in a move designed to transform the clubhouse. Nobody saw that one coming, either. Landing Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins might still end up as a shocking move, but if it happens, you can’t say you weren’t warned.
All of the buzz right now is building toward a Stanton to Cardinals trade. Buzz doesn’t always end up right or even close to being right, but it also isn’t something normall associated with the Cardinals. Even if the Marlins and Cardinals agree on players and money, there is the possibility that Stanton exercises his no-trade clause to force a trade to a more desirable location.
Jon Heyman at Fanrag Sports from his article titled Cardinals look like prime players in Stanton Sweepstakes:
This could lead to an interesting situation, as the Cardinals are believed to be the team the Marlins would most like to make a deal with, as they have several top pitching prospects, including Alex Reyes, Sandy Alcantara, Jack Flaherty and others. In any case, it will be difficult for the Marlins to nudge Stanton to say yes to, say, his potential third or fourth choice, as the Tigers were able to do with Justin Verlander and the Astros – Verlander said he had to make the call with “milliseconds” to go, between the rebuilding Tigers or Astros, but Stanton has 10 years on the clock, giving him much, much more leverage.
Another national write has weighed in on the probabilities, although it isn’t clear what this opinion is based on other than the information we already know:
It would be a stunning upset if #Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton is traded anywhere besides the #Stlcards or #SFGiants. They each have the money to pull it off, and Cards have loaded farm system, if necessary— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 9, 2017
Locally, the writers at the P-D have had their weekly chats and the paper rounded up the Stanton related questions and put them in a slideshow. Not in that slideshow, but in the roundup of Derrick Goold’s chat, he addressed the no-trade speculation.
QUESTION: Some reports say that Stanton may want to go to a West Coast team. Other reports (Jim Bowden) say he'd flat-out say "no" to STL. Is there any indication of this? Does St. Louis still have enough attractiveness for him to say "yes"?
GOOLD: To the best of my knowledge and some people who would be in the know that I have spoken to, Stanton has never articulated anything about St. Louis.
At most, he's offered up a preference or interest or musings about playing on the coast. That's not unusual. Hear that a lot from players and players around the players. Same thing with the Yankees. Some players want a chance to play for the Yankees. Remember back in 2004, a young switch-hitter with the Houston Astros talked about the kind of team he wanted to play for as a free agent and did everything but name the Yankees as that team. Of course, that player, Carlos Beltran, signed with the Mets. Things change when there is a contract put in front of them -- or an opportunity.
I do know that there has been some speculation about Stanton and St. Louis that is based only of the supposition by the writer/talker that Stanton couldn't possibly want to be in a Midwest town in the middle of fly-over nowhere like St. Louis. Whatever that means. I hear such things a lot. They're guesses, often rooted in that person's opinions, not the player's. Presumptions abound this time of year.
Heyman discussed Stanton’s preferences to go to a team on the coast and a team that isn’t rebuilding, listing the Giants as a potential destination as well as the Phillies. We don’t know whether Stanton would accept a trade to St. Louis, but as Derrick Goold reported, it doesn’t seem like Stanton has indicated anything about St. Louis.
Stanton’s contract presents an obstacle not easily overcome for potential trade partners. The Marlins and Stanton could get into a game of chicken over whether the Marlins get to accept the best package—which would seem likely to come from St. Louis—or if they agree to accept a lesser deal to get Stanton off the books. It isn’t clear who has most incentive to stand their ground.
On the Marlins side, they just want to get Stanton’s contracts off the books, but if there aren’t any contending teams on a coast willing to take on a vast majority of the contract, the Marlins will be faced with a tough choice. They might need to start packaging their valuable players like Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna to their bad contracts, like Wei-Yin Chen and Martin Prado. That situation could also work out for the Cardinals.
From Stanton’s end, he negotiated that no-trade just for instances like this. If he doesn’t like the destination, he can say no. On the other hand, if the Marlins are forced to sell off their good players instead of trading Stanton, he might find himself in a less desirable situation in Miami than in a city he might not prefer. The Marlins are an average team that apparently needs to shed payroll. If Stanton is given the option of sticking with a bare-bones Marlins team or accepting a trade to St. Louis, the Cardinals could end up looking a lot more desirable.