Polanco, Taillon Could Get Giancarlo Stanton: Why the Pirates Should Do It

The Pirates are 24th in baseball in runs scored. The combined OPS of their right fielder is last in the National League. Giancarlo Stanton is one of baseball’s best right fielders.

Gregory Polanco
Gregory Polanco, whose hot start moved him to Double-A, could bring a large trade return.

Even if you didn’t read the headline, you see where I am going with this.

ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield put the situation more simply in his first line: “The Pittsburgh Pirates need Giancarlo Stanton.” Check out Schoenfield’s story, as he makes some good points about why such a trade makes sense for both the Pirates and the Miami Marlins. There is no indication that the Pirates are interested, or that the Marlins have budged from their no-trade January attitude, but Stanton’s name should be out there.

Look at our midseason list of the Pirates’ Top 20 prospects. As Tim notes, “You could take the 11-15 prospects, and a lot of teams would take those players as their 6-10 prospects. A lot of teams would also take any of the 6-10 guys in their top five.” Baseball America‘s Jim Callis seems to agree, as he lamented the fact that he could not fit Stetson Allie or Dilson Herrera onto his post-draft Top 10. In March, BA ranked the Pirates’ farm system 7th in baseball, and other than a disappointing start for Alen Hanson and Luis Heredia starting the season late, the top of the system has sparkled.

The Pirates could easily have eight or nine prospects in BA’s Top 100 to start next year, including draftees Reese McGuire and Austin Meadows. As Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes, the Kansas City Royals featured nine Top 100 prospects before the 2011 season, and Sports Illustrated called the Royals’ farm “the most formidable player development machine in memory.” A longtime scout told Yahoo’s Jeff Passan that the Pirates have baseballs best group of prospects, “And I’m not sure it’s close.”

What do the Pirates have to trade?

In short, there are precious few teams that could trade for Stanton without wiping out the farm system. Franchises like the Cardinals, Rangers, Twins, Rays come to mind. But just how much dollar value do the Pirates’ top prospects have? Below are the Pirates Prospects updated trade values for the top 100 prospects, plus Victor Wang’s values on Grade B and C prospects, and I’ll add in my feelings some of the Pirates’ prospects for easy comparison.

Top 10 hitting prospects $42.2M
Top 11-25 hitters (Polanco) $33.36
Top 26-50 hitters $18.12
Top 51-75 hitters (Hanson) $10.43
Top 76-100 hitters (Bell) $10.43
Top 10 pitching prospects $26.7
Top 11-25 pitchers (Taillon, Cole) $18.89
Top 26-50 pitchers $14.7
Top 51-75 pitchers $7.93
Top 76-100 pitchers (Heredia, Kingham) $7.93
Grade B pitchers $7.3
Grade B hitters (Herrera) $5.5
Grade C pitchers 22 or younger $2.1
Grade C pitchers 23 or older (McPherson) $1.5
Grade C hitters 22 or younger (Allie) $0.7
Grade C hitters 23 or older (Sanchez) $0.5

Schoenfield writes that a package of pitcher Jameson Taillon (Ranked 11-25), outfielder Gregory Polanco (Ranked 11-25), catcher Tony Sanchez (Grade C, 25 years old) and “a decent C-grade lefty” would be enough to acquire Stanton. Let’s call that C-grade lefty 25-year-old Andy Oliver, a starter with Major League experience that could contribute to the Marlins right away.

Jameson Taillon
Jameson Taillon remains one of baseball’s best pitching prospects.

Using the above chart, the Pirates’ package would be worth $54.25 million in surplus value (or $59.25 million if you think Sanchez’s Triple-A season has bumped him up to a B).

How much is Stanton worth?

The potential and value of 23-year-old California native Giancarlo (formerly Mike) Stanton is difficult to figure for two main reasons: he is already unusually great for his age and nagging injuries may give teams pause.

Take a look at the 10 players with the most home runs before the age-23 season:

  1. Mel Ott, 115 (1926-1931)
  2. Eddie Mathews, 112 (1952-1954)
  3. Alex Rodriguez, 106 (1994-1998)
  4. Tony Conigliaro, 104 (1964-1967)
  5. Frank Robinson, 98 (1956-1968)
  6. Giancarlo Stanton, 93 (2010-2012)
  7. Bob Horner, 91 (1978-1980)
  8. Ted Williams, 91 (1939-1941)
  9. Ken Griffey, Jr., 87 (1989-1992)
  10. Johnny Bench, 87 (1967-1970)

And guess what? After Bench comes Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline. Of those 12 guys not named Stanton, eight are in the Baseball Hall of Fame and two (Rodriguez, Griffey) have the numbers to be inducted when the time comes. Stanton’s career numbers are a .270 average, .350 on-base percentage, .550 slugging percentage. It adds up to a .900 OPS, which is sixth-best among all Major League outfielders since 2010.

The comparable players are all legends and All-Stars, but the main question is if Stanton can play 150 games per season. He missed 38 games last year, including a month for right knee surgery. He is just now coming off a hamstring strain that kept him on the disabled list for 36 games. Any team that acquires Stanton should prepare to have him for about 120 games each year with any more treated as a bonus.

So to estimate Stanton’s value, we will have to ballpark it (the kind of ballpark Stanton mashes home runs out of). Based on Wins Above Replacement numbers from Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, here is what Stanton has done so far in his career:

  • 2010 — 2.5 WAR
  • 2011 — 4.2 WAR
  • 2012 — 5.6 WAR
  • 2013 (projected) — 2.7 WAR

There are two competing ideas: one is that Stanton was a five-win player at age 22 and should only get better from there, the other is that earning 5.6 WAR is very difficult and not necessarily a starting point to improve from, especially given that Stanton is already building up injuries. Taking both ideas into account and considering the aging curve for good hitters, plus Dave Cameron’s expectations for the cost of a win on the free agent market, I came up with the following projection for Stanton.

  • 2013 (rest of season): 2.2 WAR
  • 2014 — 4.6 WAR — Arbitration Year 1: $10.1 million
  • 2015 — 4.8 WAR — Arbitration Year 2: $16.7 million
  • 2016 — 5.1 WAR — Arbitration Year 3: $24.8 million
  • 2017 — 5.0 WAR — Free agency value: $30 million
  • 2018 — 4.8 WAR — Free agency value: $30 million

Stanton projects to provide between $35 million and $52 million in surplus value over the rest of this season and his three upcoming arbitration seasons. My projection pretty much splits the difference at $43 million in surplus value.

It appears an offer of Taillon/Polanco/Sanchez/Oliver, using the data we have, would be enough for the trade to be even on both the Pirates’ and Marlins’ sides. Remember that trades don’t happen in a two-team vacuum, though, especially blockbusters like this. If word spreads that Stanton is on the market, expect general managers to fill the voice mail of Marlins GM Michael Hill inquiring about what it would take. Should Hill expect a bump up from the Pirates, perhaps Huntington could replace Oliver with a better pitcher like Phil Irwin or one of the two talented 18-year-old Latin outfield prospects (Harold Ramirez/Elvis Escobar) in Jamestown.

Where are the Pirates’ holes?

So we have gone through the numbers, and a trade seems to make sense in terms of value for both teams. Now let’s dig in to the nitty gritty.

On Sunday, I asked Pirates general manager Neal Huntington if he is looking outside the 25-man roster to improve the team’s production in right field. He doesn’t say much, but this is Huntington’s response:

“As we start to head into the trade deadline, we’re looking at a number of different fronts that we could include the club. What’s available at the trade market and what our goals are may not align. The acquisition cost may be too significant. Again, we’ve got a club that there’s no glaring hole. There’s certainly areas we can upgrade. We’ve got some time to determine what’s available, at what cost and what’s the biggest impact on this club.”

We may disagree about Huntington’s claim “that there’s no glaring hole.” The fact that the Pirates are 14th in shortstop OPS (of 15 NL teams) and 15th in right field OPS appear to be pretty glaring. Manager Clint Hurdle is attempting to improve the production at shortstop by starting Jordy Mercer over the punchless Clint Barmes seven of the last eight days.

10 reasons the Pirates should trade for Giancarlo Stanton

1. Travis Snider has been hitting right-handers okay, but little else.

Travis Snider
Snider fits more as a role player than a starter. (Photo credit: David Hague)

The Pirates’ current right fielder owns a decent .730 career OPS against right-handed pitchers but a .645 OPS against left-handed pitchers. That trend has held this season, and the only noticeable difference between Snider’s production in past years and in 2013 is that fewer of his fly balls are leaving the ballpark. Regression will help Snider’s offense improve a bit, but he is not projected to be much more than a below-average offensive right fielder. Snider is only 25, but his skill set currently reflects a quality fourth outfielder with pop as a pinch-hitter and decent fielding ability than an everyday corner player.

Stanton does not appear to have any need for a platoon partner by any stretch. He mashes all pitchers, even if his numbers are a tick higher against lefties.

2. There is no heir apparent in right field until Polanco.

Of the outfielders in the Top 20, Polanco just moved to Double-A, Meadows graduated high school recently, Josh Bell is still 20 years old in Low-A with Barrett Barnes and Harold Ramirez is 18 in short-season ball. Andrew Lambo is flashing some early power in Triple-A, but needs to show a lot of production to be considered a true Major League option after four full seasons in Double-A.

One week ago, the Pirates’ only outfield prospect in the high minors was Andrew Lambo. Jerry Sands is hitting below .200 in Indianapolis. Jose Tabata’s OPS was a solid-but-unspectacular .744 before his injury, and that is around his career high. Alex Presley’s career OPS is .725 and he is 27. Unless Huntington finds a right field upgrade outside the organization, he is waiting for Godot or Polanco.

3. The Pirates’ system has plenty of elite prospects to “replace” Taillon, Polanco and Sanchez.

Nick Kingham
Nick Kingham would become the Pirates’ best pitching prospect in the upper minors.

By the same token, even though Pittsburgh does not have a Major League-ready outfielder on the farm, there are plenty of players that can cushion the fall of trading three strong prospects. Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia are all viable Top 100 right-handed pitchers with great height and fastball velocity in the mid- to upper-90s, not to mention Gerrit Cole could still be in Triple-A were it not for the myriad injuries to Pirates starters.

Meadows, Bell and Barnes were mentioned above, all drafted in the first two rounds and would be Top 10 prospects in most systems. If Sanchez left, the Pirates’ best catching prospects are all age 20 or younger. But McGuire (No. 9) is ranked higher than Sanchez, and Wyatt Mathisen (No. 15) and Jin-De Jhang (just outside of the top 20) have impressive tools to move up in the rankings. With Russell Martin entrenched in Pittsburgh through next season, the Pirates should be set at the Major League level until 2015, even though that notion is just an aggressive slide or collision at home from being wiped away.

Simply put, if Taillon and Polanco, the Pirates could still have a six or seven Top 100 prospects to start next season. That’s pretty formidable. Yes, Taillon has been one of baseball’s most highly-regarded pitching prospects the last two years, and he will be tough to lose, but pitching prospects are not as valuable as great hitters can be (just see the value chart from Part 1). Yes, Gregory Polanco has the potential to be a Giancarlo Stanton-level power hitter from the left side. But Giancarlo Stanton already is Giancarlo Stanton. The move would be, in its nature, high risk and high reward.

4. The window is opening for the Pirates.

My last look at Pittsburgh’s playoff odds had the team at about a 60 percent chance to reach the postseason, up a little bit in recent weeks. At their highest, the 2012 Pirates had about 60 percent playoff odds right after the trade deadline. In 2011, Pittsburgh’s contention was largely smoke and mirrors and it never got much above 5 percent odds. This season, the strong performance of young hitters and veteran pitchers like A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Jason Grilli have made the Bucs a contender.

The Major League debut of top pitching prospect Gerrit Cole opened the Pirates’ “window” for contention. From now through the 2016 season (four chances at the playoffs), the Pirates own the rights to the entire group of Cole, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Mark Melancon and Jeff Locke. As it just so happens, the Pirates would have control of Stanton through 2016 if they acquired him.

Of course many of those players will still be under Pittsburgh control past 2016, but those seven players could be the foundation until the next “cavalry” of players like Bell, Glasnow, Alen Hanson, Heredia, Dilson Herrera, Kingham, McGuire, Meadows, Stetson Allie and Barnes could meaningfully contribute.

5. Giancarlo Stanton’s power can play anywhere.

When I wrote last year that the Pirates should not trade for Justin Upton, I noted Upton owned a .924 OPS at Chase Field and a .744 OPS at all other ballparks. Even with an astronomical start to 2013, Upton’s OPS has returned to a more earthly .818 on the season.

Stanton’s success is not built around a friendly ballpark. Quite the opposite, as his career home OPS is .892 and career road OPS is .907, and Marlins park appears to play neutral but reduce home runs for right-handed hitters. While Stanton pulls most of his home runs, he pulls them deep. He is already known for his tape-measure shots, and even playing at PNC Park would have only reduced his home runs last year from 37 to about 33.

Giancarlo Stanton at PNC Park

And while it may be a little “pie in the sky,” if the Pirates acquire a power pull hitter like Stanton, nothing would stop the team from bringing in the left-field fences for the 2014 season. Even if it would eliminate the distinctive “North Shore Notch,” Stanton’s production would benefit.

6. With no lineup protection in Miami, no one in baseball has been pitched around more than Stanton.

At Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller have focused on Giancarlo Stanton quite a bit. Several players have shown up on the Marlins’ lineup card under Stanton’s name, most recently Marcell Ozuna, a 22-year-old with pretty good gap power but not much else. There has not been much protection for Stanton, which could be the reason he is seeing the fewest pitches in the strike zone of any Major League hitter. Put Stanton in the Pirates lineup, where Walker and McCutchen can reach base in front of him and veteran hitters like Garrett Jones and Martin provide punch behind him, and the slugger will have to be pitched to.

While we’re at it, let’s project out a possible 2013 lineup with Stanton included:

  1. LF Starling Marte
  2. 2B Neil Walker
  3. CF Andrew McCutchen
  4. RF Giancarlo Stanton
  5. 1B Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez
  6. C Russell Martin
  7. 3B Pedro Alvarez
  8. SS Jordy Mercer

7. Stanton is an excellent extension candidate.

Jose Tabata
Jose Tabata is one of only two players guaranteed a contract past next season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates are projected to spend about $70 million on their Major League roster this season and may only have to commit about $70 million next year in current contracts, arbitration players and options. (Stanton is playing for just $537,000 this year, his final pre-arbitration season). They will likely only pay about $9 million to their draft class of 2013, and a pool of about $2.5 million to spend on international players this year. As a franchise expects to earn about $180 million in revenue this year, the Pirates could have plenty of money to spend.  Starting with the 2015 season, only Andrew McCutchen ($10 million) and Jose Tabata ($4 million) have guaranteed contracts. There are no albatrosses limiting future contracts.

In comes the chance to trade for Stanton and extend him. There aren’t many better extension candidates in the game. Though he missed about one month last year and a month last year with right leg injuries, he may already be baseball’s premier power hitter at 23 years old. Stanton is currently only under team control through his age-26 season, when he would become a free agent. Good hitters don’t tend to go south until after age 30 and have their best seasons between age 25 and age 28.

If a team acquires Stanton, it would be wise to ensure his prime age-27 and age-28 seasons are with that team as the Marlins are not looking to extend him. One would assume Stanton would not want to sign an extension with the Marlins anyway, as he said he was “pissed off” following the team’s trade of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.

A good ballpark figure for a Stanton extension would be five years, $110 million. To get to that figure, I used my projections and figured Stanton could earn about $30 million in each of his first two free agent seasons, which looks high, but salary figures inflate every season and every MLB team is about to earn more than $50 million each year in National TV money.

Stanton signed a $475,000 signing bonus out of high school and has earned about $1.4 million in Major League salary. He is far from poor, but may be more open to a guaranteed nine-figure contract than a player that received a giant draft bonus. Any team that acquires Stanton would be wise to bring him and Wasserman Media Group to the table after the season.

8. Imagine an outfield of Marte, McCutchen and Stanton.

McCutchen and Marte
How’s this for an All-Star outfield? (Photo by: David Hague)

Let’s go beyond numbers for a moment and think about what the Pirates’ outfield could be for the next five-and-a-half seasons with an extension for Stanton. Left fielder Starling Marte is developing into a leadoff man with gap power, while opposing hitters fear his defensive range and runners fear his slingshot arm. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is a two-time All-Star and one-time MVP candidate who can spray the ball to all fields, put the ball over the fence and man his outfield territory. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is one of baseball’s best all-around right-handed hitters and has the power to crush baseballs 500 feet out of stadiums.

All baseball dynasties have an elite core of players. The ’90s Braves had Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. The ’70s Reds featured the hitting Machine of Rose, Perez, Morgan and Bench. The Giants’ winning of two World Series was built around a run-prevention machine of Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner being caught by Posey. Elite players create elite teams. Though the Pirates’ potential outfield may not be Hall-of-Fame caliber, it would be elite.

9. The Marlins could use Taillon, Polanco and Sanchez pretty quickly.

Tony Sanchez
Tony Sanchez would make his return to South Florida.

Miami native Tony Sanchez would likely step in right away as the Marlins’ everyday catcher over struggling young Rob Brantly. Taillon and Polanco would appear at Marlins Park sooner rather than later. Ozuna, 22 years old, was called up to start in the outfield having played just 10 games above High-A. Jose Fernandez, 20 years old, did not even make an appearance past High-A, but the Marlins have placed him in the rotation to great success.

If Stanton is traded after the team’s offseason fire sale, Miami fans would be justifiably angry at losing one of the only exciting aspects of their baseball team. Attendance at Marlins Park is once again the lowest in baseball, down almost 10,000 fans from the stadium’s debut season last year. If Stanton goes, the Marlins organization will want to immediately show off their new players to keep fans interested. In essence, Taillon, Polanco and Sanchez would provide more immediate value to the Marlins than they would to the Pirates, a system in which they may still be a year away from making the Majors.

10. It’s time to put up.

As it turned out, Huntington was right to be cautious at the trade deadline the last two years. The Pirates would have missed the 2012 playoffs even if they had acquired Hunter Pence and Anibal Sanchez instead of Travis Snider and Wandy Rodriguez. And no one or even two players could have prevented the nose-dive the Bucs took in 2011.

Gaby Sanchez
Gaby Sanchez arrived from the Marlins last year and has produced well. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

But it’s a new season and a new deadline. Pirates fans, rightly or wrongly, are expecting Huntington to bring in an impact player. Trouble is, there may not be such talent available at the deadline beyond the Phillies’ Cliff Lee. After Lee, you get into the second tier of possible acquisitions like Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, Astros starter Bud Norris, or right fielders like Alex Rios of the White Sox or Marlon Byrd of the Mets.

Either Byrd or Rios would be a fine upgrade in right field, and the Pirates should inquire about a veteran reliever, but none of these players is Giancarlo Stanton. Huntington and Marlins GM Michael Hill showed last year they can swing a deal when Gaby Sanchez came to Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska and a draft pick. Now they have a chance to go next level with a trade that would shift the balance in the National League in the Pirates’ direction.


Giving up two elite prospects in Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco is difficult to reckon for any singular player. Trading for Giancarlo Stanton, though, would immediately shift the Pirates from still-building to going-for-broke. The opportunity to acquire a slugger of Stanton’s current status and legendary potential is exceedingly rare. One scout told John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus, “I’d give up my whole farm system for him because you’re talking about a guy who is heading to the Hall of Fame.”

Just watch the guy hit:

In this 2013 season alone, Stanton could provide a huge boost. The Pirates are currently expected to win 87 games, the perfect place to make an upgrade at a position of need like right field. Even if Stanton added just two more wins for the rest of season, the marginal value of the wins is huge. Bringing in Stanton could leap the Pittsburgh’s playoff odds from 55 percent to 85 percent. Of course, he would be around after the 2013 playoffs too.

The Pirates arrive at the 2013 trade season with the most elite young talent in decades. The front office has the opportunity to turn PNC Park into the home of an exciting, contending baseball team. Pirates games would become must-watch, not just for Stanton but because the team would be a no-doubt winner.

Now is Huntington’s chance use a couple of chips, make a giant wager that could change the future of baseball in Pittsburgh. Make the bet, Neal.

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Great article, well thought and and presented. I think a factor that not many are pointing out is that if/when Stanton gets to his walk year, we could always trade him for a haul of prospects and young major league guys – maybe not quite Taillon/Polanco/Sanchez level – but a good haul no doubt about it. Unless Stanton falls on his face, which I doubt.

Mike Shutlock

As far as I’m concerned, JT is off the table. Period. Everyone else is fair game, but the Pirates need 2 legit aces at the front end of their rotation and haven’t had that in years. If we could get him with another combination of players, go for it, but JT MUST remain a Pirate


As we all saw with the Pens this year, making a big splash in the trade market is not a guarantee of a championship. I don’t care, There is no way that giving up Taillon is a good idea. Nick Kingham may never get past AAA. then you are depending on the Free Agent market to bolster your rotation that next year looks alot weaker if Burnett isn’t back and Rodriguez is gone. Not to mention if something happens to Russel Martin then we are relying on “The Fort” to be an everyday catcher. There goes your “No-Doubt Winner” status. I want the bucs to win more than anybody but don’t think that prospects don’t matter anymore just because we are close to the playoffs. The Ray’s wouldn’t make this trade and that is good enough for me. Polanco is probable the most expendable of the prospects listed. simply because there are many other high-end prospects in the system but Taillon, Snachez and Hansen should be untouchable. There are not enough SS with a bat in all the minor leagues to make a Hansen trade make sense.

Robert S. Myers

Adam Lind would be a good target. He is crushing rightys and has even been hitting lefties pretty good in few ab’s this year. Play him at 1st and move GI Jone to RF

Bryan Graham

I’m wondering what might be available at first base also. It definitely isn’t a position of strength and Gaby Sanchez has no business starting any games. The Dodgers are stinking up the joint, what would it take to get an Adrian Gonzalez type player?


Look, I’m 18 years old I follow baseball and love the Pirates more than any other team in any sport. I’m tired of freaking waiting and being patient. Neal has done a wonderful job drafting the past few seasons and it’s time to use some of these assets. Rebuilding is closing in on legally being able to drink and I can’t even legally drink yet. It makes me miserable to watch the Steelers and Pens go out and make big deals and trades and the Pirates go out and acquire Gabby Sanches. I’m sorry but that isn’t getting it done make a splash do something to tell Pittsburgh and Major League Baseball that the lovable losers are done losing.

Robert S. Myers

Steelers dont make trades, they draft well and play w the hand that is dealt.


Agreed, at some point stockpiling prospects becomes a liability because there aren’t enough roster spots to fit everyone. And even then, these prospects don’t guarantee to fill the holes on this team. If we are gonna have to trade some of these guys anyway, do it now while we are contending and a guy like this is out there. Polanco would be a big loss, but his power swing still looks like a projectable thing with him, Stanton is ready and powerful now


“at some point stockpiling prospects becomes a liability” Yeah, I read that in Sports Illustrated. The story was titled “The Dark Side of Stockpiling Talent”. Wild Action!

Bob Smith

I posted this on the earlier thread also. Any thought s on marlon byrd. I know he had issues. But I want him to drive in runs not date my daughter. He right now has an ops over .800, has 11 hrs. He is cheap 700k salary. Free agent next year so only have him for the run. And plays for the mets who are sellers and should cost us much less in prospects then rios or stanton…granted for a good reason.


Byrd kinda sounds like Ryan Ludwick all over again, I see a good deal of risk bringing in this marginal patch of a player. And I don’t exactly trust Neal Huntington to find the right patch to fix RF, he hasn’t shown good scouting at that position. Stanton helps by reputation alone. The entire NL knows he can hurt you every AB

Monsoon Harvard

I’ve always wanted the Pirates to get Stanton, even back when he was in the minors and his name was Mike. I don’t know why they never tried to get him back then when he was more relatively inexpensive (as opposed to what he costs now)…
For that reason, I don’t think the Pirates management is smart enough to make a deal like this. I would make it. I’d hate giving those guys up, but Stanton would solidify the outfield into something not seen around here since our playoff teams in the 70’s and early 90’s.

I still see Neil Walker as a weak hitting link right now. I’m starting to think about how much better they can get once Alan Hansen and Dilson Herrera hit the majors. I wonder if the Marlins might accept, say a package of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, and a marginal prospect instead of Polanco?


I hope they stay the course. I’m more in favor of MLB-ready low-ceiling prospects for better players (e.g., the Wandy trade last year). A blockbuster trade like Stanton could make the Pirates contenders for three years, but they could become a losing team for years again after that. It’s not as easy to restock the shelves via the draft these days as it was three years ago.

For that matter, I wouldn’t mind seeing them trade a “spare-parts player” (e.g., Alex Presley, Josh Harrison, Jared Hughes, Brandon Inge) to someone for low-level prospects with higher ceilings. Not sure if that’s possible, but maybe someone will hire David Littlefield & make this dream a reality…


One other comment. I don’t buy Taillon and Cole as 11-25 top pitchers. Preseason I know some lists had Cole in the top 10 and Taillon right there as well. This whole trade scenario changes real quick when Taillon or Cole is worth an extra 8 million for trade value.

For my two cents- I’d trade Oliver, Irwin, Hanson, and Taillon for Stanton. That’s it. I wouldn’t give Polanco because we can’t replace him in terms of young all around talent. Polanco will be a better defender, better baserunner, steal about 500 bases more than, and likely hit for a better average than Stanton. Stanton is not a 5 tool player, Polanco is. Lets not sell that short. I’d go as far as saying i’d probably trade Cole before Taillon but that’s just personal preference.



I have a real serious question and I want you to give it some thought.

If hitters are considered as roughly around 1/3 more valuable (kinda taking an average from your dollar values above) why then, when it comes to the draft, do you say “best player available” it makes zero sense to NOT go for a hitter over a pitcher every single time all things considered at the top of the draft. This value system makes it almost retarded to pick Mark Appel #1 because Kris Bryant is WAY more valuable as a trade piece to bring another Appel and a JP Crawford type talent back later on. Instead of having the most “talent” shouldn’t teams pick the player of the highest value to the market? Especially when rebuilding! Theoretically we should be able to trade Bell and Hanson for another Cole or Taillon and another C level prospect. If potential Ace pitchers are so undervalued vs. position players of the same stature, then why are they so impossible to trade for? Maybe i’m missing something.


Do the anti-Stanton people here realize how anemic our offense has been? Even if Stanton struggles a little, teams are still gonna respect him. That fact alone means more protection for McCutchen, less pressure on Jones, who isn’t a clean-up hitter, and Alvarez for production. And Stanton’s presence helps the bench too because now Snider’s coming off the bench which bumps Inge or Presley out. My only problem remains losing Taillon. I suggest Kingham, Polanco, Oliver, Lambo/Sanchez, and maybe Hanson. Or Marte, Kingham, Oliver, Hanson, and another filler. I’d call up Lambo with the Marte trade too

buc em all

Polonco is a stud he should b here by next June that outfield is gonna be so fast n good I almost jizz in my tighty whiteys


It’s a very tempting trade idea, but here’s why I wouldn’t do it: I anticipate an offensive surge by the Bucs similar to last year. About this same time, they went on a run that put them among the top scoring teams in the majors. I can easily see it happening again; Pedro seems to be warming up, Cutch is still not playing to his normal level, but probably will, Walker will heat up, as will Jones. Mercer now getting playing time will help. Marte will keep getting better. If Snider/Tabata don’t pan out, you make a move for someone short term that doesn’t cost too much prospect-wise.
Stanton IS scary good, but has shown to be injury prone, which makes it too risky to give up arguably 3 of the top 10 prospects we have. If I thought the Bucs were going to continue hitting as they have been, then it might be worth the risk, but I really don’t think they will.

Bryan Graham

In case you didn’t realize, baseball is a 6 month season and even with that hot streak they finished the season near the bottom of every major statistical category. In short, the Pirates offense is poor even with the occasional hot streak thrown in.


I realize it’s a full season, and IMO it was more than a hot streak; they hit well for most of the year after a very slow start against some tough pitching (kinda like this year). What hurt them most last year was the failure at the end to pitch, due to injuries and an overworked bull pen. If that doesn’t happen this year (they do have more depth), the they’ll be fine – offense included.


I think we should just stick to the plan and consistently build from within adding a few pieces here and there. I am more interested in not just breaking the losing mold but continually doing so year after year.


My thoughts, if anyone cares:


In brief: Stanton makes a ton of sense for the Pirates, and they should be willing to trade a boatload of talent for him. But if they’re getting Stanton, the plan should be to maximize their potential during the 2013-2016 window when Stanton and Cutch will both be here. Trading away Taillon and Sanchez, who should both be big contributors in 2015-16, is two steps forward and one step back. The Pirates should not do that. They should look to build a package around guys who are farther away. They have enough top-shelf talent in the low minors to make it happen, if the Marlins are indeed willing to deal Stanton.


There’s no evidence to suggest NH will make this type of bold move. Not that I’m in favor of it anyway. I like Rios.

Matt Beam

I prefer Kendrys Morales who actually has a history of outperforming himself w/RISP, which this team needs in a huge way

buc em all

Have u guys thought about adding a forum it prob increase traffic

buc em all

Ya I’m not big on loosing polanco n taillon we finally got a deep farm system lets keep adding to it since well need it to be deep to compete we can get a good rf bat without trading away should be untouchables

NorCal Buc


NorCal Buc

DO NOT trade a potential Cy Young candidate in a few years (Taillon) and a potential stud RF (Polanco) and the catcher for the future (Sanchez) for an oft-injured All Star, no matte how young or how good he appears.


buc em all

Off topic does neone else hate Brian Kenney


Pirates can always trade him when he gets expensive, assuming health.

buc em all

It’s not gonna happen


Trading for Stanton is obviously a Pirates fans wet dream, but there is no way the Pirates would commit to an extension at $22 a year. As a small market team we have to live and die through the draft. We need to keep stockpiling quality players in order to be competitive for years to come. Not only that but I’m not ready to say McGuire, Bell, Heredia, Glasnow and Kingham are the future considering how young they are. I wish I could, but I can’t get behind this proposed trade. Taillon, Cole, Marte, McCutchen and Polanco will be the star core and possible baseball dynasty.


I like where your heads at Mr. Santelli. I wouldn’t give up Taillon though. Is there any way you could substitute a Nick Kingham and a B hitting prospect like Alen Hanson? Or even a trade like Kingham, Marte, Sanchez, Oliver, and Hanson just to save Polanco?

joe g.

No thanks – not for Sanchez, Polanco and Tallion. First, our catching depth is is nowhere near ready for the major leagues. Russell Martin is gone after next year and the Fort is a defensive liability. Second, the Pirates have great pitching depth but they don’t have top of the rotation depth for next year. If Tallion continues to pitch well, he will end this season in AAA and possibly join the Bucs sometime in 2014. No way you trade him knowing that Burnett may be done after this year. Third, Polanco could see AAA next year. He is a beast and made for PNC. No way I trade him with his potential and years of control.

What to do: trade for a right field platoon this year. It will cost less and help provide more offensive production before Polanco arrives. No need to give up three top prospects. Think about their talent and service time lost.


I’d rather stay the course, pick up a Josh Willingham *this year* at the deadline and see what happens. His trade value has to be much lower than last season whenever folks clamored for him. He only has one more full season at $7 or $8 million (depending on plate appearances). Big fan of Stanton, but the 120 games per season throws up a red flag. I can see why so many folks luv Stanton, the skills are there. He’s obviously more of a sure thing than any of the prospects. In the end, though, he’s a luxury more than a necessity. Interesting read.


Idea — Jeff Locke’s put up nearly one WAR this season. Let’s just say he’s a 1.5 win pitcher.

The upcoming two full years that he earns the rookie salary at 1.5 wins would carry a good bit of trade value on their own.

If somehow a major league ready jeff locke could get them out of including Taillon, i think that’s something that should be explored.

This idea shouldn’t be limited to Stanton either, IMO.

Once Wandy and AJ are healthy, the pirates’ rotation will be solid with or without Locke. Liriano and Wandy provide more than enough leftiness for the rotation this year, and perhaps Justin Wilson can take over for Wandy next year if he leaves.


So the pirates have the prospects to trade for the best young power hitter in baseball but not a descent young shortstop? Hopefully Polanco keeps hitting and cures the pirates RF woes in a month or so


I think a trade I would attempt to make would be for J. Profar, instead. The Rangers are thinking of using him as an outfielder, and don’t have the opening at shortstop.

I would attempt a trade of Kingham, Hansen, Tobata, and Bell, to get him. Tobata could be a major league ready outfielder to help until Bell would be ready, Hansen has a big upside, defense not withstanding, and Texas always needs pitching. 3 top prospects, and a major leaguer to fill a major need at short for the pirates. Also gives you a top of the order hitter. Not sure if Texas would do it, but these topics are always fun to throw out.

Stanton has too many injury issues.


I agree completely with this. The reason that I am on the fence about Stanton and probably err on the side of preferring we don’t pull the trigger is that the ESPN article and a lot of speculation ignores organizational depth when looking at “holes.” While there appears to be a current “hole” in RF (which you can argue there is or there isn’t with Snider/Tabata/Jones), we would be giving up valuable farm pieces to acquire a player who occupies a position where we have the most depth (OF). If we’re going to trade top prospects, I want a cost-controlled SS stud or SP (as you can never have enough of those). End of story.


The Rangers won’t trade Profar under any circumstances.


I do not like this at all… I would much rather just play things out this year and just wait until Tallion and Polanco get here at some point next season, or at the latest starting out of ST the following year. Maybe I’m too high on Polanco and not high enough on Stanton but I think an outfield of Marte, Cutch and Polanco can be just as good. Then throw an at the very least quality starter(potential ace) in Tallion and I just think we will be better off in the long run to just wait it out a little longer. Stanton just seems a little too desperate to win now when we have quality pieces about to arrive before too long. And after losing for so long I think I can hold out a little bit longer, we will at least end the losing streak this season and that would be fine wit me. Playoffs can be the focus after we get that monkey off our back.


DO NOT TRADE Polanco, he should be untouchable,


triple : thats my call too !


Lets give them Pedro even if he doesn’t hit for the Marlins he can keep the stadium cool with all those fans of his.


I would try to get him without Taillon. We need him to take over for AJ, Wandy, Liriano in the next 1-2 years.

I’d try Polanco/Hanson/Kingham/Bell. I’d be willing to add in Sanchez but I’d rather not bc they need him to replace Martin soon.


You would be a lot better off trading McCutchen or Marte than Polanco. It is pretty obvious to me that you folks have not seen this guy play yet.


I’d agree Polanco looks like A better prospect than marte was. But if you fill the hole in RF with Stanton i wouldnt want to create a hole in LF by trading marte.

Saying Polanco is better than mccutchen is going too far. He has been in AA about a week


3111 : Where did I say that Polanco was better than McCutchen ” right now ” ? I did say that he is a much better looking hitter right now than either Marte or McCutchen were at the same stage of developement,and is coming on very quickly. I don’t know where you migh live,but if you get a chance go watch him play,then tell me what you think.


You can’t state we’d be better off trading McCutchen or Marte because if you trade for Stanton, you’re trying to win now. Marte-McCutchen–Snider may not be better than Snider-Marte-Stanton.

Jeremiah Ewing

DO IT!!!!


I’ve taken in all those facts and figures from this excellent article, trying to digest it all, forming an opinion. Deep down I have this gut feeling (which may be wrong) that it’s taken us such a long time to bring our farm system up to the standard we’re all seeing and enjoying today.

Let’s try and keep this talented group of prospects together and see them develop until most of them (hopefully) make it as first teamers at PNC Park. It would be magical to have a player like Stanton but if the Marlins were actually willing to trade we would have to give them a ton of top prospects in return. Stanton might be a star for us, or he might be a bit less of a success, no one knows.

But I just have this maybe naive desire to see guys like Polanco, Taillon and Sanchez play and win for the Pirates one day and nobody else.
Even if we were or are still in a postseason race, keeping our top prospects together, in my opinion, gives us a chance to compete and take part in the playoffs for years to come, not just this year or next.
That we are a team that’s finally looking upwards is largely due to the way we’ve improved our farm system, I like this way of improving the team.

Who knows ? Maybe we have a Stanton kind of player in our system already without knowing it, let’s see what happens.


I know that everyone tends to poo-poo the idea of a quantity-over-quality trade for Stanton, but is there any scenario that might make sense WITHOUT Taillon or Polanco?

Virtually every other prospect could be in play, just potentiaqlly more of them, i.e. Hanson, Heredia, Glasnow & Bell for Stanton, plus some immediate things like choices of Snider/Presley/Sands/Sanchez/etc., and/or McPherson/Cumpton/Watson/Morris/etc.

IOW, fill-in pieces aside, would the NEXT FOUR prospects (or whatever next four prospect smost interest the Marlins) be a potential replacement for the first two?

Per your comment above, if you project that the Bucs could have as many as 8 or 9 Top 100 prospects starting now – presumably Taillon, Polanco, Hanson, Heredia, Glasnow, Bell, Meadows, McGuire and ???, and the two new draft picks can’t be traded anyway, then you would be talking about possibly trading 4 (or 5) Top 100 prospects for Stanton, just not your top two.

Sounds good on paper – “4 (or 5) Top 100 prospects for Stanton”. At a minimum, the Marlins wouldn’t be able to say they could strike that deal with many other teams, simply because only a couple teams will have that many Top 100s to begin with.

Protect the Top 2…….the two draft picks at the other end can’t be traded anyway……sell the middle 4 (or 5).



I think the problem is that the Marlins would want quality more than quantity. If the Pirates did not include both Taillon and Polanco, then other teams would be able to provide better deals most likely


Agreed–look, Stanton is an elite-level talent, and those guys are hard for any organization to find. I’d be surprised if the Marlins would take a bunch of guys with number two starter and decent-but-not position player upside in exchange.


As Tim would say “What would the Rays do?” Don’t get me wrong I would love to see Stanton in this line up. But there’s really no chance of extending this guy and if there’s anything I’ve learned from this team it’s that one guy isn’t going to save the franchise. It has to be a group effort. So while Stanton is clearly a “known” if you will until 2016 – I think Polanco, Taillon and Sanchez just might be too much for Stanton. I think their 3 combined effects on the line up would outweight Stanton. But I’m also a coward when it comes to these deals. Talk to me next week though if Stanton goes on a tear and the Pirates score 4 total runs over the weekend. Also James I loved the Troy McClure picture.


Good article, but Stanton won’t fix the Pirates problem, so to me it is a no deal deal.
Nothing in the article tells me he can hit with someone standing on third or second in the ninth inning, if anything the article tells me that they will just pitch around him and someone else in the Pittsburgh lineup with have to hit with runners in scoring position, something none of them has proven that they can do this year on a consistent basis. I don’t care what they did last year, this year we don’t have one guy you wish was at the plate in a crucial situation.
What Stanton probably will do is sell a few more tickets, that is about it.
Ask the Pens how they did bringing in all that talent to get them to the cup, how did that turn out?


An interesting argument, but I don’t see it. I don’t see Stanton making us a championship team in 2013 or 2014. By 2015, Taillon will likely be as valuable a player as Stanton, Polanco would be starting in right, and we’d be fishing around for a catcher that can hit .250 (though I’m not sure Sanchez can do that). None of our young catchers are ready to call a major league game, etc. by 2015.


Not true, Sanchez can call a major league game right now, that is not his problem, he can’t get playing time in Pittsburgh right now and he has to play, if Russell goes down, he will be he the NO. 1 catcher in Pittsburgh and he can hit .250. Your talking about a major league ready catcher right now.
Taillon by himself could not even bring Alonso when the Reds had him, the Pirates tried, the Reds said no.

Andrew Smalley

Great support for that side of the argument. I’m not sure where I land, but I’ll offer three rebuttals to some of your reasons:

1) I don’t think Taillon/Polanco/Sanchez/Oliver would get it done. Frankly, I don’t think it would be that close to getting it done. I would think that – rather than Sanchez (who the Marlins don’t *need* due to Brantley) – they would want someone else, like a young stud like Glasnow or Meadows. So, I’m not sure we’re discussing an actual likely possibility.

2) Protection is a myth and shouldn’t factor any situation. If you look at the Marlins line-up last year, it was just as bad behind Stanton. The Marlins aren’t going to trade Stanton because they don’t have anyone else behind him (actually they do w/ Ozuna, but even if they didn’t). That actually would make them *less* likely to trade him.

3) And, finally, this may be semantics, as I don’t know precisely what you meant. But, Polanco – even if everything goes right – won’t be an equal in power to Stanton. It won’t be close, it won’t be in the same ballpark. Their completely different players, and, outside of possibly Miguel Sano – there isn’t anyone close to the Power that Giancarlo provides.

If this deal were to be desired by the Marlins, I’m not sure I’d do it. However, I suspect the deal isn’t enough – and protection (myth) and projection of Polanco (not close to Stanton) aren’t reasons for doing it.

Good article, though. It really spells out the situation well.


Similar to what I was going to say, Andrew. Having that big bat in the middle of the lineup is huge. It makes the other hitters better. The Pirates don’t really have that guy in the middle of the lineup to strike fear in the other team’s pitcher. Maybe McCutchen for part of last season. Cutch would see better pitches, and you have a bopper who can change the game with one swing.


How much better can the pitches be than right down the middle? Cutch does not have a problem with getting bad pitches to hit, he has a problem with approach, he wants to hit every pitch in the river.


leadoff : I don’t think these folks can see McCutchen swinging out of his shoes at everything. He has been doing this since at least August 2012. Putting Stanton before or after him isn’t going to change his approach.


Yes! I’ve been complaining about him trying to crush/pull everything and rolling the ball over to short since after the All-Star break last season. He was such a better hitter when he was content to just “hit the pitch where it is”


Pirates need OBP more than power – Alex Rios is currently hitting .282/.341/.470 for the White Sox and probably could be had for Tabata and a decent pitching prospect like Andy Oliver. An even cheaper option is David DeJesus from the Cubs – he’s not having a good year but has a career .350 OBP. Both these guys are in their early 30’s, both teams are going nowhere, and both have OBP’s comparable to Stanton without either the prospect value or future salary cost. Stanton going to arb after this season is going to be seriously expensive, and no less of an injury risk.

Possibly the best guy to target, though, is Aoki from the Brewers. He’s 31, and has a .370 OBP. He’s a natural laedoff hitter, too, so Staring could be bumped down to the 5-hole. He could surely be had for Snider and a ML ready starter.

The Bucs can also target LF’s, since Marte should easily be able to move to RF. That puts Carlos Quentin (.267/.367.471) or Josh Willingham (.217/.357/.410) on the radar, and Quentin is clearly expendable in SD with Kyle Blanks going nuts. Both these guys are defensive butchers, but Stanton isn’t going to win any Gold Gloves either.

Count me against making the “big move” to try to get a wild card spot. That still leaves a one-game playoff situation. It would be different if I thought the Cards were catchable, but I don’t think that’s the case, and the Bucs are just too far behind them talent-wise.


I could see the Cubs trading a piece inside their own division. But do you really think NH wants to help make them stronger by trading anyone worth while for DeJesus ? I don’t think so…..


Your thesis hinges upon Stanton accepting an extension and the Pirates being able to afford a $22 million a year player for 5 years. Neither is likely and the latter is nearly impossible.

I’d much rather stay the course, develop from within and resign our own talent, while supplementing the MLB roster with affordable MLB talent. That is how we got this far and that is how we will sustain success. I always like the old – what would the rays do? mantra – and a quick all in move with both financial and prospect resources isn’t it.

Matthew Lobb

I agree. I would try to trade for an instant and temporary upgrade like Rios and hold the fort until Polanco is ready. I would like to see Polanco up next year, but we could give him a whole extra year of development and bring him up in 2015 because Rios is signed through 2014. I like Stanton, but not enough to part with Taillon and Polanco. I think the price for Rios would be much more reasonable and he would be a good enough upgrade. I keep seeing people suggest that Tabata would be a trade piece. Well, he is a good piece for the Pirates to try to trade, but not one that anyone will really want to trade for.


Is it safe to assume the Marlins would want this much? Examining their other trades, none resulted in the acquisition of loads of prospects like this trade is suggesting. The Ramirez trade cost the Dodgers their third overall prospects (Nathan Eovaldi) and a non-top 10 in Scott McGough. Toronto’s acquisition of Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle, while resulting in the swapping of several players, only cost the Blue Jays 3rd prospect (Jake Marisnick), 5th prospect (Justin Nicolino), some high upside, non-top 10 prospects, and a major league ready player in Yunel Escobar. It seems, however unlikely, that if the Marlins were to want to trade Stanton (which still seems highly unlikely), it may not cost as much as some would think. It definitely would cost a top prospect like Hanson or Polanco but the Marlins may be seeking to horde younger players in quantity over the high quality of who they are receiving. Something like Hanson/Herrera/Snider/Holmes could get it done. And that is not me trying to horde prospects and never want to trade them. It seems that the Marlins may very well go for quantity over quality


The difference between stanton and ramirez is the salaries. Stanton still makes a rookie level salary.

In the simplest of terms, Trade value = Talent converted to dollars MINUS salary.

Many say that “talent converted to dollars” = WAR * a constant with units of dollars per WAR, which is around $5 or 6 million.

Dodgers got a discount in terms of the prospects they paid because Hanley makes a lot of money. No such discount exists for Giancarlo.


I don’t think the recent trade with the Blue Jays is a good comparison.

In my opinion, the 2007 Miguel Cabrera deal is more comparable.
In the Miguel Cabrera trade, the biggest pieces coming back to the Marlins were the #6 (Cameron Maybin) and #10 (Andrew Miller)prospects in baseball, ranked by Baseball America pre-2007. I would argue that Cabrera had more value at the time of his trade, but not a ton more. So, Polanco and Taillon seems like a logical starting point to me.

Thom Kay

I’m on board.
I would really hate to lose all three of those main guys, and I’d really prefer the Pirates use more players from lower down on the prospect rankings.
Could Kingham + McPherson replace Taillon?

Lee Young

It’s a nice dream scenario, but I doubt it will ever happen.




I read the ESPN aricle earlier this morning and said to myself,” no way I trade Tailon and Polanco,” but after reading your article I’m all in…make the call to the fish Neal!!


Schoenfield is a funny guy. It is pretty easy to play with house money.But after thinking about it,I would be open to this deal : Either Marte or McCutchen,Cole ,Casey Sadler ,and Adelbertos Santos. But I would not,NOT,trade Polanco and Taillon ! Polanco right now is far far more advanced as a hitter than either McCutchen or ,Marte were at the AA level and is a star waiting to happen. I have seen all the participants mentioned play from several to many times,and I promise you this,both Taillon and Cole would be going nowhere if I were the GM ! Furthermore,any scout that tells you Stanton is a HOF er needs another line of work. When,and only when, he can prove he can play 140 to 150 games a season,then you start talking like that. When a player in his early to mid 20’s is only playing 120 to 130,what do you think will happen to him later in his career ? Those players do not make the HOF !


I am sorry for a mistake. I meant that neither Taillon or Polanco would be going anywhere if I were GM.


I’d say if this package would get it done, get it done. When the ballclub’s situation has called for patience, the Pirates have been patient–and kudos to NH for that. That said, there is a window for the Pirates now; there aren’t any great teams in either league right now (though the Cardinals will be in the next year or two), and there comes a time where you need to decide that you’re all in. Is the price steep? Hell, yes–but what are you willing to pay for a shot at a World Series in Pittsburgh?

Kerry Writtenhouse

While I think Stanton would be a nice fit since his right hand power plays anywhere, I would be reluctant to trade a potential perfect fit for our ballpark in Polanco. Not to mention a top of the rotation pitcher like Taillon. As much as I like Stanton, I’d have to pass if it means trading Polanco and Taillon.


To me the only Untouchable in the system is Taillon. No matter what happens the rest of the year, with the real possibility of Wandy and Burnett not being her next year, you don’t trade a potential front of the rotation guy.

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