The Dodgers’ interest in MVP and possible trade candidate, Giancarlo Stanton, has many fans excited. They envision adding Stanton to an already solid Dodgers lineup and imagine themselves gazing at mammoth home runs hit over the left field pavilion on a nightly basis.
It’s hard to blame anyone for dreaming about this. Undoubtedly, Stanton is a beast. His 59 dingers last year were the most in baseball since Barry Bonds’ record-setting 73 back in 2001. However, we all know there are many who think that records set by Bonds (as well as marks set by McGwire, Sosa, or anyone else in that era) are tarnished due to PED allegations.
So, you could argue that Stanton’s power display last year was one of the most impressive in MLB history, perhaps only topped by Roger Maris (61 in 1961) and Babe Ruth (60 in 1927.)
Regardless where you place Stanton’s achievement, there’s no doubt he’s a great player. His performance this past season just earned him the N.L. MVP Award. He leads all active MLB players with with one home run every 14.3 at-bats. Also, at only 28 years old, he’s still in his prime.
Who wouldn’t you want a guy like that? Even my counterparts here at Dodgers Nation seemed to have got on board the Stanton train. Well, not to sound too much like the party pooper here, but if it were up to me, I’d prefer the Dodgers pass on Stanton.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. How in the world did the Dodgers lose Games 2 and 5? They had those games in the bag, and if they had just pulled out one of them, the entire series would — oh… you weren’t thinking that? Maybe that’s just me then. Sorry… still having occasional flashbacks. I digress.
Getting back to Stanton, perhaps you’re actually thinking why in the world I wouldn’t want his services on the Dodgers. Let me explain.
That $295 million contract
Obviously, any protest to acquiring Stanton has little to do with him as a player, and more about his hefty contract. Stanton is due $295 million over the next 10 years, and in 2027, he’ll still be getting paid $25 million at the age of 37.
Andrew Friedman, and the rest of the Dodgers front office, has shied away from long term contracts so far during their tenure. Kenley Jansen’s 5-year deal last off-season was the longest one given out under their regime. Taking on a contract as massive and lengthy as Stanton’s doesn’t really fit in with Friedman’s style.
Of course, the Marlins could always pay a portion of the contract in a trade. However, the more salary that Miami remains on the hook for, the more likely it is that the Dodgers would have to include some top prospects in any deal. In other words, the Dodgers will end up paying one way or the other – either in money or in prospects.
Stanton’s health could also be something to consider before any deal. Last year was only the second time in the last six years that he’s played at least 125 games. While it would be a little premature to slap the “injury-prone” label on him, it does raise some concerns.
Other contract particulars
In addition to Stanton’s contract being expensive, it also has a couple of particulars that make it less appealing. For one, Stanton has an opt-out clause which will allow him to become a free agent after the 2020 season. That only gives three guaranteed years of his services.
Perhaps the Dodgers wouldn’t mind if Stanton opts out at that point, or they might even prefer it. Still, Stanton would have control over what happens either way, which is not ideal.
Stanton’s contract also has a full no trade clause, allowing him to veto any deal he doesn’t approve of. That would really limit the Dodgers’ flexibility with him in the future, and they could find themselves in the same situation as the Marlins are currently in, where they’re at the mercy of Stanton’s desires in any negotiations.
The Dodgers’ current outfield is pretty good already
The Dodgers had one of the better offenses in baseball in 2017. Although Stanton’s addition would definitely be a boost, it’s certainly not a necessity. Assuming no other moves are made, the Dodgers will have Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Alex Verdugo as primary outfield options going into next year.
Sure, there are some questions around a few of those options. Pederson’s career has been filled with ups and downs, and any kind of consistency has eluded him. There’s no way to tell what version of Joc the Dodgers will get next year. Toles is coming off of a serious injury which sidelined him almost all of last year, so his health may be a question mark. Verdugo will be a rookie, albeit a highly touted one, so some might caution expecting too much from him right away.
Even with these questions though, it seems like the Dodgers will have enough options to field a very productive outfield, and the money they would fork out for Stanton could be spent elsewhere. Perhaps to bolster the bullpen. Maybe adding another starting pitcher or two.
Or, if you really want to think big, maybe saving up for even greater things to come…
2018 free agents
This year’s free agent class is nothing great. Next year’s, however, is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever, in terms of top tier players.
Here are just some of the top free agents for the 2018-2019 off-season:
- Clayton Kershaw (opt-out option)
- Bryce Harper
- Manny Machado
- Josh Donaldson
- Charlie Blackmon
- Andrew McCutchen
- A.J Pollock
- Daniel Murphy
- Brian Dozier
- D.J LeMahieu
- Adam Jones
- Dallas Keuchel
- David Price (opt-out option)
- Zach Britton
- Andrew Miller
- Craig Kimbrel
- Cody Allen
“Holy Schinkes” you say? Exactly. And that’s only the top 15 or so. This will be one of the deepest free agent classes in recent memory, with many superstar players on the market.
Topping that list is the Dodgers’ own, Clayton Kershaw, who can, and assuredly will, opt-out after next season. It would seem that the Dodgers’ first order of business would be to bring back the best pitcher in the game and that, of course, won’t be cheap.
Moving along down the list, you can pick any number of great players who would be great to see in Dodger blue. Bryce Harper? Manny Machado? Maybe Zach Britton or Andrew Miller? There’s plenty of options, and all of them will cost a pretty penny.
With so much money coming off the books for the Dodgers at the conclusion of the 2018 season, they’ll have some money to play with. Adding a contract like Stanton’s wouldn’t necessarily cripple the Dodgers in free agency, but it could limit them. And if there’s ever a year where you don’t want to be limited, it would be next year.
There’s no doubt that Giancarlo Stanton is a great player with phenomenal power. That said, it might not be in the Dodgers best interest to add a contract like his when you look at everything involved.