I’ve been asked a few times over the last couple of days what it would cost for Giancarlo Stanton. Recently there have been a few rumors that the Marlins would listen on Stanton. These sound very similar to the Justin Upton rumors that always come up. A young superstar is mentioned in trade rumors and soon enough every team’s message board has trade ideas for how their team can acquire the young star. Most of those offers are way off. As an example, I was given a “Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, and Kyle McPherson” suggestion recently. That’s a top pitching prospect, a top hitting prospect, and a good pitching prospect. Unfortunately that wouldn’t come close.
I don’t normally do trade value posts for players who aren’t linked to the Pirates in a rumor. In this case I figured I would look at the trade value for Stanton, just to paint a picture of the insane cost of a trade.
To start things off, remember Andrew McCutchen before his extension? It was a little over a year ago that I did a trade value article on McCutchen, writing why a deal would be impossible. That was back in the time before his extension, when people were convinced that McCutchen would be traded in a year or two, all because the Pirates hadn’t extended him by November of the off-season prior to the off-season when he would be arbitration eligible for the first time. It seems kind of silly now. It kind of did back then too.
McCutchen and Stanton aren’t similar players, but their values were similar. McCutchen in 2011 had four years of control remaining, with three years of arbitration. He was coming off a year with a 5.8 WAR. Stanton has four years of control remaining, three arbitration years, and is coming off a year with a 5.6 WAR. Going to the trade values chart, the inputs are almost identical.
Using a 5.6 WAR for the next four years for Stanton, plus the same salary figures I used last year for McCutchen ($500 K, $5.7 M, $8.6 M, $11.4 M), the trade value for Stanton comes out to $86.6 M. McCutchen was $88.6 M last year.
So what would $86.6 M look like in the Pirates’ system? For that we turn to our prospect trade values.
We’ll start with Gerrit Cole. He will likely end up a top ten pitching prospect, with a value of $26.7 M. If you think you’re getting Stanton without giving up Cole, you’re dreaming.
Then there’s Jameson Taillon, who is probably an 11-25 pitcher. That’s a value of $18.89 M.
Next we’ll throw in Alen Hanson, who is a 26-50 hitter. That’s $18.12 M.
We could assume that Gregory Polanco is a 26-50 hitter, but I think he’ll end up closer to the 51-75 range. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and give him that $18.12 M.
That’s arguably the top two pitching prospects in the system and the top two hitting prospects. The total? $82.99 M. The Pirates would still need about $4 M. Or, in other words, a Grade B hitting prospect or two Grade C pitching prospects.
But there’s a problem. We’re only using Stanton’s 2012 WAR. He’s only 23. He should improve. What if he pulls a McCutchen and has a 7 win season in two of those years? Now his value is $100.6 M. Now you’re talking about adding Luis Heredia, and still needing a Grade B hitting prospect. And that’s based on a value that seems totally possible for Stanton.
A Stanton trade would wipe out the farm system. He could command two of the top hitting prospects in the game. If a team ever did trade for him, they might be able to save a prospect or two from that list. But they’re still going to have to give up a lot in return. By “a lot”, I don’t mean “maybe they’ll want Jose Tabata”. I mean “take Polanco out and replace him with two or three prospects in the 8-15 range of the system”. Also consider that if the Marlins did trade Stanton, they’d be looking for minor league pieces. Trading a young star away for immediate help at the major league level doesn’t add up, and it’s why the Justin Upton rumors never made sense.
The similarities for the values of Stanton and McCutchen work well. If you’re thinking of a trade possibility for Stanton, just ask yourself if you would have taken that same return for McCutchen a year ago. Considering the price, I don’t think any team would/could trade for Stanton. The cost would pretty much wipe out another team’s farm system. That’s definitely not something the Pirates could afford, even if they’ve got the prospects to actually afford the deal.
Links and Notes
**The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. Order your copy today!