Why the Marlins Shouldn't Trade Giancarlo Stanton
There are a number of reasons why free agent deals and trades have been slow in coming, but one of them is because teams are waiting to figure out what the heck the Miami Marlins are going to do with Giancarlo Stanton. Recent rumors suggest the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and a number of "mystery teams" are all involved in trying to acquire the reigning National League MVP.
New Miami owner Derek Jeter says the team needs to clear payroll in order to be competitive and the solution is either to trade Stanton or to keep him and sell off everything else. Financial considerations are driving this decision, and if the Marlins want to win, they should be doing the exact opposite.
The Marlins have an offense that is good enough to win right now. They should be adding pitching. If they did, they could be a playoff team next season.
Certainly, Stanton is a big reason why the Marlins are an effective group, but it goes beyond him. Last year they were 11th in runs scored, better than the Dodgers and Cardinals and just 7 runs less than the Red Sox. They were seventh in total team fWAR, better than the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, and Colorado Rockies.
With Stanton and his 59 home runs, the lineup is young and talented.
Marcell Ozuna was second on the team in fWAR (4.8), with a slash line of .312/.376/.548, 37 homers, 124 RBI, and a weighted runs created (wRC+) of 142. Christian Yelich is the third member of what is probably the best outfield in the National League, with an fWAR of 4.5 and a slash line .282/.369/.439, 18 homers, 100 runs scored and 16 steals.
They have one of the best young catchers in the NL, J.T. Realmuto, who finished third in all of baseball in fWAR among backstops (3.6) behind Buster Posey and Gary Sanchez. He hit .278/.332/.451 with 17 dingers and played above average defense behind the dish. Second baseman Dee Gordon, who is also likely to be traded this winter, finished with 60 stolen bases last year, a .303 batting average, and an fWAR of 3.3. And first baseman Justin Bour provided a good deal of pop in 108 games played, slugging .536 with 25 bombs.
Instead of dealing away their young core, the Marlins should be investing in their pitching staff, which combined to put up a 5.15 ERA, the fifth-worst in baseball. Dan Straily is the de facto ace at the moment, with a 14.3% strikeout-to-walk ratio, an ERA of 4.26 and a batting average against of .250. But the rest of the rotation struggled.
Wei-Yin Chen simply couldn't stay healthy, making just five starts last season. Jose Urena led the team with 14 wins and had an ERA of 3.97 but brought along a fielding independent pitching (FIP) of 5.28 that indicates he got a bit lucky last season. Vance Worley and Tom Koehler each made 12 starts and each finished the season with ERAs over 7.00. Adam Conley and Edinson Volquez were both underwhelming in 2017 as well.
If the Marlins didn't have their financial issues, they'd be a team that should be primed to nab a quality starting pitcher or two from the free agent market. Adding a top of the rotation pitcher like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta would instantly make the staff better, and with a couple other tweaks, the Marlins would have the talent to challenge the Washington Nationals in the NL East next season.