Everyone wants Giancarlo Stanton in theory.
He's the game's preeminent slugger. He's got a shot at passing Roger Maris for second place on the all-time single-season home run list (yes, Giancarlo, we said second place). He's 27 years old.
In a vacuum, that's a general manager's dream—a strapping franchise cornerstone with a huge stick and face-of-MLB potential.
Stanton doesn't exist in a vacuum, though. He exists in the context of his contract, which is worth more than $290 million through 2028, including a $10 million final-year buyout, unless he opts out after the 2020 campaign.
It's understandable why teams are interested and why rumors have swirled that the Miami Marlins could move him this winter.
At the same time, jettisoning a haul of prospects and taking on that albatross deal could cripple or destroy your favorite club.
Let's begin with the San Francisco Giants, who are "expressing the strongest interest," per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. That rumor came before the sale of the team was finalized, but the new ownership group—headlined by former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter—is reportedly open to a swap, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (h/t CBS Sports).
On the surface, it makes sense. The Giants are in the midst of a dreadful season, buried more than 30 games under .500 and in the National League West basement. They rank dead last in either league with 112 home runs.
Stanton would immediately and immeasurably improve San Francisco's offense. No argument there.
He'd also decimate a thin farm system Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked No. 26 in the game.
There's no telling what the Marlins would demand for Stanton, but it's safe to say the Giants would have to part with some or all of their top prospects, including infielder Christian Arroyo, first baseman Chris Shaw and right-hander Tyler Beede.
The worst part, though, would be the money.
Even if the Fish swallowed some of Stanton's contract—a concession for which the Giants or anyone else would have to surrender extra MiLB chips—he'd be an enormous payroll drag.
Here's a stark way of viewing it: Assuming San Francisco shouldered Stanton's entire deal, it could have $144 million committed to eight players over the age of 30 in 2020, as McCovey Chronicles' Grant Brisbee outlined.
For those keeping score at home, that leaves 17 roster spots to fill for a club that already ranks sixth in the game with a $188.8 million payroll, per Spotrac.
Acquiring Stanton would prevent the Giants from spending on any noteworthy free agents for a long while. Certainly they would be out of the vaunted class of 2018-19.
Perhaps he'd be worth it. Maybe the Orange and Black have one more even-year run in them and Stanton is the missing ingredient—Barry Bonds without the performance-enhancing drug baggage.
More likely, he'd be a fence-clearing distraction on a franchise in decline.
What about other possible landing spots? Surely some team with a rumored connection to Stanton makes for a decent fit?
In addition to San Francisco, Nightengale name-dropped the St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Texas is essentially in the same boat as San Francisco, with a farm system Reuter ranks No. 21 and a payroll of $185.8 million.
The Cardinals (No. 11 farm) and Phillies (No. 6 farm) have better prospects and more financial flexibility, especially in the case of Philadelphia.
Still, Stanton's contract is poison for any front office. And if the Marlins are going to absorb enough of it to offset that fact, they'll undoubtedly command a farm-leveling return.
He burns any team at both ends, depleting the minors while financially handicapping the big club.
Heyman reported the Yankees "did make a call" on Stanton. They've got the money in theory and the prospects in practice, but they also have Stanton's younger doppelganger in Aaron Judge, who is a fine long-term right field solution despite his second-half slump.
Heyman also speculatively tossed the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers on the heap, though both have ample depth in the outfield and, in the case of the Red Sox, a depleted farm system.
The Dodgers make some sense—Stanton was born in Southern California—but his contract would hobble even their gargantuan payroll.
It's also worth noting that Stanton played 119 games in 2016 and a scant 74 in 2015 while battling various injuries. He's put those concerns behind him with a healthy 2017, but it adds another eyebrow-raising caveat to those mega-mega-bucks.
"I personally would never have signed that kind of contract for any individual player in this marketplace," former Mets general manager Steve Phillips said, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "It's not a judgment of him. I would love to have him on my team. I don't know how a small market team survives with that kind of a contract to one player."
Even big-market teams should blanch.
Someone may trade for Stanton. They might benefit from his Herculean tendencies. Everyone wants him in theory.
In practice, it's a potentially disastrous gamble.
All statistics and contract information current as of Thursday and courtesy of Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
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