Stanton is only 23, and is already putting up crazy numbers, leading some people to call him not only a future MVP, but also Hall of Famer. And the thing is, I tend to agree. When you look at what this kid has been able to do so far, it’s hard not to say those kinds of things.
In a little under 3 full years in the bigs, Stanton has posted a line of .270/.350/.553, .383 wOBA and 140 wRC+, along with 93 home runs. That’s an average of 31 home runs a year through age 22. The guy has overwhelming power, and is capable of really changing an offense. Last year was his best year to date, putting up career highs in almost every offensive category that matters, including passing the .600 SLG% and .400 wOBA marks, with .608 and .405 respectively.
For reference, his batting line last year was .290/.361/.608, .405 wOBA, 156 wRC+ and 37 home runs.
Now, all that and the fact that he is only 23 and has 4 years of cheap team control means that he in fact isn’t cheap at all. He may be one of the most valuable players in the league. Its very rare for a young cost controlled talent like this to be traded, because not only are they uncommon, but teams usually have no reason to move them. The Marlins don’t really either, other than the fact that they traded everyone else and could fleece a teams farm system for one player.
All that being said, is Stanton worth it?
Well in a couple words, most likely. This kid is an extremely rare talent and is very similar to Ken Griffey Jr. in that he has been able to succeed at such a young age, and has all makings of a future star.
First of all, we need to figure out what it would take to pry him away from Miami. It’s pretty safe to say that it will take 3-4 top prospects and an MLB ready player to get him. Something along the lines of RHP Taijuan Walker, SS/2B Nick Franklin, LHP James Paxton, 3B Kyle Seager, and a couple C prospects. Told you it wouldn’t be cheap.
Ideally we would swap Walker with Danny Hultzen, but I can’t imagine Miami parting with Stanton for anything less than a package headlined by Walker or Mike Zunino, and I think he is off limits. I have gone back and forth on whether or not I would do this deal. Right now, I would. And believe it or not one of the hardest parts would be trading Kyle Seager because he has become one of my favorite players. He wasn’t hyped up at all, but he came out, did his job, and was one of the better hitting Seattle had last year. Plus, he gave me his broken bat.
But after looking at it and giving it some more thought and research, I think it’s a deal Jack Z would have to make. Adding too much more could change that, but as is, it’s a good trade.
In acquiring Stanton, here is what the M’s would likely be giving up:
Seager: 4-5 WAR
Walker: 5-7 WAR
Paxton: 3-5 WAR
Throw ins: 1-2 WAR
That’s 15-24 wins that we would be giving up for a 7-8 win guy. But we now have to think about the people who would replace those players we traded, so we can see who that is and what they bring.
Seager’s likely replacement Stefen Romero dominated both A and AA last year, posting a combined .432 wOBA and 163 wRC+ in his second full year. He looks like he will be a solid major leaguer in the future, but there’s always a chance he pulls a Vinnie Catricala in AAA this year, since both were older for their league and could be overachievers.
I’d put him down for 2-4 WAR.
Walker’s replacement would in a sense be Danny Hultzen. The lefty is a consensus Top 10-15 prospect in the MLB, and looks like a solid bet to be a good #2/3 starter in the future. However, since he would have already been in the rotation, I am not sure he would be considered Walker’s replacement. That might instead be Victor Sanchez, who dominated Short-Season A ball at the age of 17.
Either way, you can probably expect 3-5 WAR.
Paxton’s replacement would be fellow “Big 4″ member Brandon Maurer. He burst on to the scene last year thanks to his 3.20 ERA and 3.05 FIP in 137 2/3 AA innings. I can’t verify this, but I have read that they numbers look even better without his first few starts of the year. He looks like he could have a very similar future to Paxton as a solid #3/4 guy. Hard to tell what’s real about him, but I like him.
3-4 WAR seems like a fair bet.
Finally, we have Nick Franklin’s replacement, who I happen to think is a better player. Brad Miller played great in his first full year, as seen in his .406 wOBA and 146 wRC+ combined between A and AA. Like Franklin there are concerns about his defense, but his seem to be his clunky hands rather than movement and range. He is the reason I have never been a huge Franklin guy.
This may be a little high, but I think 3-5 WAR is reasonable for his future.
The replacement for the throw-ins would likely be other throw-ins. Guys that can come up and be league average are not too hard to come by, so they really become a non-factor to the M’s in this trade. 1-2 WAR.
Oh yeah, and there’s that Giancarlo guy too. Based on his talent and how good he already is, I think he will be good for 7-8 WAR a year. He has averaged 4.3 a year in his first 3 seasons (would be 4.8 if you extrapolate his rookie WAR out to a full year), including 5.8 WAR last year at 22. It’s safe to say he will get even better as he gets into his mid-late 30′s so there may even be a chance for a few 9-10 WAR seasons in there as well, but maybe not in the 4 years Seattle has him for.
If we add all those up, we get somewhere between 19 and 28 wins from Stanton and the “replacements.” Obviously there is no guarantee that any of these guys, both those being traded and those who would replace them, will meet those expectations. Some could bust, but some could also go above and beyond.
But as you can see, the replacements plus Stanton in this scenario make for about 4 more wins, going from 15 to 18 on the low end, and 24-28 on the high end.
The only person that we know for sure of is Stanton, which gives Seattle the edge. You never know what the prospects will do, so we are giving up hope and potential for proven production, with even more potential on top of that. It’s a risk, and a big one at that. But with the depth that this team has in their system, it very well could be worth it to snag a once in a generation player like this before he even hits the market.
Stanton is the kind of player this team needs. Even if the guys that are traded end up reaching the top of their range (24), and the replacements end up being worth their low end (18), Stanton’s impact could reach further than that. Not only does he give Seattle a proven, MVP caliber bat, but he may also help some of the other guys around him, as well as make Seattle a more attractive destination for for free agents in the future. He may even be instrumental in keeping Felix Hernandez here. Those things could very well tip the scale back in the Mariners favor. Keeping a Cy Young-caliber ace in town, and attracting another solid hitter through free agency (Ellsbury? Choo? Granderson?) would be very valuable.
It’s time for Jack to make a big, franchise altering move like this. The risk will most likely be worth the reward.