There is a way to make sure your free agents stay with you through retirement.
(A) Sign them to outrageous, long-term deals that no other club would be willing to eat
(B) Demand a lot in trade for those players without eating much, if any, of the outrageous salaries
Yep, you wanted the guy, you got him.
Now to the topic of this post:
First, what I am about to propose is unlikely to happen as has been indicated to me by someone who is much more knowledgeable about the Indians' situation than I will ever be. But still, let's dream on this.
I have been saying for some time that the Indians need another outfield bat. I know they are hoping that this bat belongs to Bradley Zimmer, and I hope so, too.
But wouldn't it be nice to have a proven run producer? The window is open for the Tribe to compete. Do we bet that Zimmer will aid that effort or do we look to use Zimmer to get someone who will aid this effort? It's a tough question.
Just for grins, let's explore what a possible trade with Miami for Giancarlo Stanton would look like.
In preface of this proposal, Miami is in the middle of bad season. Stanton is about to get an $11 million raise next year (to $25 million) and his salary doesn't get any smaller through the end of it in about 8 years. There are also some bidders to by the Marlins and it will not make the team any more attractive if they have Stanton's albatross of a contract to deal with. Not that Stanton is bad. However, paying one player $25 million plus a year on a team that needs to continuing rebuilding doesn't make any sense.
In order to trade Stanton the Marlins may need the following:
a. A replacement for Stanton
b. A ML-ready starting pitcher
c. 1 or 2 stud prospects, depending on which OFer they would receive.
Plus, it doesn't appear that they are going to be eating much, if any, of that contract. Remember, potential buyers don't like sunk assets that won't bring back a return.
Looking at it from the Marlins' perspective, here are the players I think they would want:
Zimmer, Clevinger and Francisco Mejia.
The first two are for need and the third one is just the icing on the cake to placate their fan base that they got value for Stanton, when it is mainly a salary dump.
To be honest, this trade would likely stick in most Indians' fans craws. Not every fan but a lot of them. Plus, we are a small market team who blew their budget to sign Encarnacion. That's a lot to give up to get one player back AND have to eat this salary. Two of these three would be bad enough, but all 3? The Indians would need something else back. But what?
Our bullpen looks good with Goody slotting in so there isn't much need there (unless you think Cody Allen is going to break down soon). The OF is overcrowded and we have more than enough depth at infield. I wouldn't want AJ Ellis instead of Perez as the backup catcher and they aren't trading their starting catcher, Realmuto. Basically, they have nothing on the ML roster that we need right now.
So, let's think out of the box. If the Marlins want these three guys and don't want to throw in like $30 million ($10 million a year starting in 2018 when Stanton's contract balloons) they are clearly planning for the NEAR future and would need that money for flexibility in signing free agents. So let's get some of their FAR future.
Pulling out the trusty Baseball America prospect handbook the Marlins don't have a lot in the lower minors that the Indians would want, at least not on paper. The only guy I could find is pitcher Edward Cabrera, their pre-season #7 prospect. Not really enough to make up, in my opinion, for eating a bunch of Stanton's salary.
OK, let's try something else. How about if we substitute Yandy Diaz for Mejia and throw in Joe Colon?
So we would get Stanton and Edward Cabrera and give up Zimmer, Clevinger, Diaz and Colon. The Marlins would throw in a paltry $5 million to help pay Stanton's salary this year.
We have now blown our budget out of the water for the next several years making it extremely difficult and, likely, impossible to re-sign Carlos Santana. I am willing to lose Santana to free agency or trade him if Stanton remains healthy. DHs are relatively easy to find and cheap to sign. Maybe not as good as Santana but much cheaper.
As a prospect person I would stick with Zimmer. However, as a guy who has witnessed the Indians give up Frazier, Sheffeld, et al for Andrew Miller, I am on board with this trade. You can't play it halfway. You can't try to break in prospects and expect to have the horses to make it back to the WS. Zimmer is still too much of a question mark for THIS year and our other options, like Almonte, are just not going to cut it. Besides, if we want a CFer for the future we have Greg Allen.
Having Stanton also means less of a need for Abe Almonte as Stanton is righthanded. Basically we have Brantley in left, a platoon of Jackson and Chisenhall in CF with Brantley and Chisenhall being able to play multiple OF positions. I am not convinced Chisenhall can play CF for a contender but, what the heck.
So, I think we should seriously explore this trade and NOW. If we are going to have Stanton and pay a high price for him, we should get as much of him as we can...starting now.