29 November 2017

Trading for Stanton and Other Half-Baked Notions

Let’s get this out of the way right now and say that the Orioles are not going to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. The reasons for this are as obvious as the no doubters Stanton blasts with regularity: His massive 10 year, $295 million contract, his opt out provisions, his cost in prospects, his extensive injury history, and his no trade clause. Any one of these would be enough to tank a deal, but all of them, combined with the the fact that the Orioles front office regularly loses sprints to snails, makes it an utter and complete impossibility.

Having said that, let’s make a deal!

First, let’s consider what Stanton is. An MVP winner? You bet. An elite power hitter? Sure. An injury prone, not super young guy with a lot of mileage and whose team is seemingly desperate to move him? Well, yeah, that too. You know, there was a guy the Orioles traded for once. An “old 30” kinda guy. The kind of guy that, if he played now, would probably be in Stanton’s position; an older, highly paid player on a team going nowhere that has the ability to take a new team to the next level. I’m not saying Stanton is Frank Robinson, but let’s take a look at their numbers through their age 27 seasons, just for fun.

Stanton: .268/.360/.554, 146 OPS+, 267 homers, 672 RBI, 34.1 WAR
Robinson: .303/.389/.557, 148 OPS+, 262 homers, 800 RBI, 47.4 WAR

The biggest difference between the two players is Robinson’s durability. Through his first 8 seasons he played in 1190 games, while Stanton has played in a relatively paltry 986. Robinson was also a more complete hitter and player, but Stanton gets the edge as a power guy. The point here is not to say that Stanton is as good as Frank Robinson, because he’s not, but that adding a player like him would be in the same realm of magnitude as when the Orioles acquired Frank before the 1966 season. MVP’s don’t get traded in their prime very often, yet that’s exactly what is likely to happen this offseason. Stanton is a great player when healthy, and none of his injuries are of the chronic variety, so there’s at least a chance he has gotten over the health hump and can consistently play 150+ games. If that happens, you’re talking about a top 5 or so player in baseball.

So Stanton is great. We know that much. Why would the Orioles make this deal? Well, other than the fact that they wouldn’t, they’d do it because they have decided to throw caution to the wind and try to win a World Series in the next few years. They’d also do it because (bear with me, here) they’ve just signed Manny Machado to a ten year, $300 million extension, and Alex Cobb, and Tyler Chatwood, and Mike Minor, and, you know, a couple more pitchers! What an offseason they’ve had in my fevered brain.

Realistically, this would be far out of the realm of possibility for the Orioles at their current payroll level, but let’s say they’ve gone as crazy as I have and will commit to running a $180 million payroll for the foreseeable future. Suddenly, there’s room in the budget not only to sign Machado but to bring in another huge piece. And, since Stanton is the craziest one of all, he’s decided that he wants to play in Baltimore and be the modern day Frank Robinson. It’s all coming back around, folks!

Under a $180 million budget we can make this happen. In our offseason blueprint series, we set a budget of $155 million, and within that, the team would be able to pay guys like Cobb and Chatwood. Stanton will make $25 million this season, and assuming Cobb and Chatwood sign for their BORAS projections, they're already at the $180 million cap. But! Since the Orioles are going to deal Austin Hays, Hunter Harvey, and Ryan Mountcastle to the Marlins for Stanton, Miami is also going to take Mark Trumbo and be grateful for it. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, we’ll be needing to trade those guys to get Stanton. We subtract Trumbo’s $12.5 million salary and add it onto Machado’s projected $17 million arbitration deal and, bingo! $180 mil on the dot.

Easy enough? Ok, obviously not. Trading the team’s best two position prospects and arguably the most talented pitcher in the organization is a very steep price, though shedding the Trumbo deal makes it sting a bit less. But, if we assume that Machado bounces back to his pre-2017 level and the pitching improves with the additions of Cobb, Chatwood, and whoever else, adding a +7 WAR bat suddenly makes this team look like a legit contender. Even if the Orioles only sign one of the better arms on the market (which, let’s be honest, they’d basically have to do if they went this route), the addition of Stanton itself might be enough to get this team back into the playoffs.

Also, come on. Are you telling me you’d rather have Austin Hays than this:

I mean, really. Adding Stanton to a team with Machado, Schoop, Jones, Davis, and Mancini would, if nothing else, be incredibly fun. While I know that it's not going to happen, and that there are pretty good arguments for why it shouldn't happen even if it could, Stanton could hit 70 in Camden Yards. For late November, in an off season that hasn't exactly been a rip roaring joyride, that's not the worst dream in the world.

Dan Duquette, I've laid it all out. The rest is up to you. Godspeed, sir.


Pip said...

I enjoyed this article very much, even though it's a tad bitter.
yes, Dan won't make this trade, which is a good thing. However, he won't make any worthwhile trades, and he won't sign any worthwhile free agent.

Unknown said...

Why not just offer Davis and Trumbo for Stanton? Have the Marlins throw in a mid level prospect or two for our generosity. Problem solved.

Rob said...

A legit question - do we know what DD's "constraints" are as the O's GM? I mean the actual things he's permitted/not permitted to do when constructing a roster? I know international signings seem disallowed, but I can't help feeling some of his shortfalls as a GM are because he's operating in a constrained system. Maybe all GM's do, but maybe our ownership is kookier than the average team? He has a very specific approach (signing FA's late in the process, stockpiling AAA pitchers, etc). I just wonder what DD knows that we don't that informs his style as GM...

Pip said...

It is a very good and valid question, and none of the shills for the organization are going to respond to it with any kind of honesty if they bother to respond to it at all.
However, dance moves are often extremely contradictory, so much so that he doesn't seem to have any plan at all.
The only constant seems to be that if he makes a move that works, it is a surprise. He has made too many blatantly foolish moves, and too many contradictory moves for me to think that he is being constrained.
He can't sign international players, And he was banned in Korea, and yet he signed Chen, Wada, Kim and Yoon, only one of whom worked out.
His budget restraints don't prohibit him from spending obscene amounts of money on bad players, and yet he will make stupid moves to save insignificant amounts of money.
Because his moves are so often contradictory, the only conclusion to make is that there is no plan at all.

Unknown said...


Jon Shepherd said...

Sorry to be a stickler, but the Orioles are banned from scouting Korean Baseball Association sanctioned events. It would be akin to a team being banned from scouting high school or college teams. They can and extensively do scout professional games. They arguably can hold personal workouts for amateurs though i have not heard of them doing that. They could also have a free lancer attend a KBA event, write up a report, and then buy that report.

Pip said...

Jon, I was aware that I didn't know the full details of the Korean issue, and I'm grateful for your clarification. You're not being a stickler at all except perhaps in a good way.
But the larger point remains valid, and although the Korean problem wasn't necessarily Dan's direct doing, it did happen during his reign so it's his responsibility.