ESPN’s Olney Says Cardinals’ Best Fit May Be Marlins’ Yelich or Ozuna

It’s still quite unclear what will happen with Giancarlo Stanton, but what’s abundantly clear is there will be no easy resolution to the situation. The Marlins’ prized trade piece holds all the cards here, and even if the Miami club found the picture-perfect trade partner, he could kibosh everything with a shake of the head.

Which is why ESPN’s Buster Olney is of the mind the Cardinals may see a better fit in Stanton’s fellow Marlin outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcel Ozuna. Another reason the analyst believes this is because the Marlins’ financials are in terrible shape.

“In the interim they really should start having conversations about some of their other players because every person you talk to who’s had a look at the Marlins’ books say it’s a disaster and it would behoove them to move not only Stanton, but Yelich and Ozuna,” Olney recently told The Kevin Wheeler Show.

“Those are the two players I think may be the best fit for the Cardinals.”

Olney used “in the interim” because he could see the Stanton saga playing out a long time given its complexity.

“Wouldn’t surprise me if it were closer to the start of spring training than during the course of the winter meetings.”

Olney touched on plenty more in the interview, which can be heard in its entirety below the following excerpts:

On what the Marlins can expect in a Stanton trade:

“Teams that have talked with the Marlins say they’re somewhat out of touch with reality in terms of what they’re asking for in prospects and also in what they expect teams to take on with that salary. $295 million over the next 10 years, plus he has a full no-trade clause, plus he could opt out of the contract in 2020, which is why some teams are looking at it saying, ‘Well, we don’t really know what we’d be buying in that case.

“The feeling is among some of the teams I’ve spoken with…Look, the Marlins, who are deep in debt, can try and dump the salary of Stanton, but they can’t expect that they’re going to get a lot in return if they expect a team to take him on. And if they want a lot of prospects, they’re not going to get that much money back.

“And here’s the other factor that I think is becoming fairly clear; is that there’s been little conversation between the Marlins and Stanton about what he wants and he completely controls the thing. That’s the big x-factor in this whole conversation.”

On a lack of communication between the Marlins and Stanton:

“You would’ve figured that sometime during the summer time when Derek (Jeter) knew he was going to be involved in the purchase of this team, he would’ve immediately started taking him to dinner and get to know, have a conversation; because one way or the other, the Marlins need Stanton.

“If they’re going to keep him, they need him to be the face of the franchise. But if they’re going to try to trade him, they need him to go along with it.

“Of all the teams involved in the Stanton thing, the Cardinals are, in fact, probably the best positioned teams in terms of money (and) prospects they could offer, but it’s not going to happen unless he agrees to it and there’s this perception in the industry that he won’t agree to go either St. Louis or Boston.

“I don’t know if that’s real. We don’t know if that’s actually been put in front of him, but I feel like the Marlins are way behind in the conversations they should have been having with Stanton.”

More: Miklasz – 13 Rumor-Free Thoughts on the Cardinals and Giancarlo Stanton

  • geoff

    The Marlins were stupid to give that contract to Stanton… now the Cardinals are trying to give players to the Marlins so that they can be burdened with it. The DeWitts should run away from this one as fast as they can. Let someone else have it. Any GM that gives a no-trade clause to any player should be let go. Mo gave a no-trade to Fowler and Cecil…neither player did enough prior to deserve one and neither played up to expectations last season. I understand the Fowler signing because Mo panicked, much like he did when he traded for Heyward but, what in the heck was he thinking when he gave that long-term no-trade contract to a middle of the pack middle reliever. The Cards need players who can hit but I think it would be stupid to take on that Stanton contract. He alone will not put the team over the top. The Marlins had just as good a lineup as the Cards last season and Stanton had a career high number of home runs and the Marlins missed the playoffs coming out of the weakest division in all of baseball.

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    • Realist50

      I’d also be cautious about taking on Stanton’s contract, but a major point made in this column is that the Marlins are discovering that the Cardinals (or any other team) isn’t going to give up much if anything in the way of prospect value to do that. The Marlins can either pay down a lot of the contract – likely after the opt-out – or not get much in return for Stanton.

      As for NTC’s, it’s great from the team’s perspective to have a blanket policy of “we don’t do that”, but then don’t complain when the Cardinals have trouble signing free agent. From the team’s perspective, it’s presumably cheaper to “pay” part of a free agent’s salary with a NTC than to try to blow away monetary offers from other teams to get the player without a NTC. It’s hardly surprising if a no trade clause is important to a lot of free agents who want assurance that they’ll be in the same city for a few years unless they agree to a trade, and perhaps especially so for players with families.

      As for the Marlins missing the playoffs, pitching is also part of the game. The Marlins pitching staff was terrible in 2017, while the Cardinals’ was pretty good. The Marlins had all of two pitchers who totaled 1 or more WAR last year, using Fangraphs WAR – . The Cardinals had nine pitchers do so –

      As for whether Stanton on the 2017 Cardinals would have put the team in the playoffs, the Cardinals finished 4 games behind the Rockies for the second wild card. Cardinals’ RF’s totaled about 1.7 WAR in 2017, again per Fangraphs. Stanton totaled 6.9 WAR in 2017. So, looking narrowly at the 2017 season other things being equal, Stanton would have improved the Cardinals by about 5 wins, which would have put the team in the playoffs as the second wild card.

    • Chris McGrath

      Couldn’t agree more with you. I felt like I was alone in thinking this was an absurd trade to be considering. Mo’s over-compensating for previous poor winters (i.e Fowler and Cecil) and trade deadlines. Since the majority of Cards fans seem to be ecstatic about Staton, Mo wants to redeem the image that the front office is passive.

  • Realist50

    While I see the point that Stanton has a lot of leverage with his no-trade clause, it seems like the leverage back from the team is just how willing Stanton is to spend the next three years (before his opt-out) on a really bad, rebuilding team.

    The Marlins have other paths to cut payroll by a lot without trading Stanton. They can trade their true assets with team-friendly contracts or arbitration years (Yelich and Ozuna) as well as Dee Gordon’s roughly neutral value contract. They can perhaps package some of their bad contracts (Prado and Chen) with Yelich and Ozuna and accept a less valuable set of prospects in return. They also have about $29 million in salaries coming off the books after 2018 for Volquez, Ziegler, and Tazawa.

    They would definitely take a step back with this plan, because in Yelich, Ozuna, and Gordon they’d be giving up three of their four most valuable position players other than Stanton for 2017. Significant reinforcements aren’t on the way from the Marlins’ farm system, which is rated one of the worst in MLB. Depending on the prospect return for the traded players, the Marlins probably project as something around a 65 win team after these trades. If they used these trades to dump bad contracts also, they’d still get some prospect value back, but it almost certainly wouldn’t be enough to restock their farm system.

    There are reasons to think that trading Stanton is a better payroll cutting option for the team than tearing the team down to Stanton, a handful of other average to good players, and a bunch of scrubs. Stanton after 2020 may well be either gone (if he’s good enough to opt out, and a rebuilding period in Miami might well make him inclined to leave even for somewhat less money) or be an albatross contract due about $30 million per year for the next seven years (due to injuries and/or decline).

    The potential game of chicken/negotiation, however, is the Marlins telling Stanton that accepting a trade to a contender is his way of leaving a Marlins team that will be slashing payroll one way or the other and that therefore doesn’t project to be very good at all for the next few years.

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  • Gray Nash

    He’s not worth it, The Cardinals should wait for things to develop this spring. I would spend the money on a quality starter or closer, They are not far now in terms of scoring
    enough runs. They need more speed on the bases. Could Sierra be converted into a shortstop?

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