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The St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly emerged as an early favorite to land reigning MLB home run champion Giancarlo Stanton in a trade from the Miami Marlins.
On Thursday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports noted the Cardinals are a “prime player” in the Stanton sweepstakes along with the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies. He added the Marlins would “most like” to make a deal with the Cards due to their numerous top-tier pitching prospects.
The 28-year-old slugger is coming off a big year in Miami. He posted a .281/.376/.631 triple-slash line with 59 homers and 132 runs batted in. His 1.007 OPS ranked fourth in baseball behind only the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto.
Despite those huge numbers, Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported moving Stanton, who’s heading into the fourth season of a 13-year, $325 million contract, is part of the new owners’ plan to reduce payroll to $90 million for 2018.
The California native owns a complete no-trade clause, but he suggested to Heyman in September he’d be willing to move on if the Marlins are planning another long rebuilding project.
“I don’t want to rebuild. … I’ve lost for seven years,” Stanton said.
St. Louis looks like an ideal fit from both teams’ perspectives. The Cardinals need more power after finishing 18th in home runs during the 2017 season and also have an opening in right field alongside Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham in the outfield.
Meanwhile, the Marlins could push for at least one of the Cards’ highly touted young pitchers, a group headlined by Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty, as the cornerstone of the return package.
The question is whether Stanton would accept a deal to St. Louis. Heyman pointed out sources suggest the outfielder “would prefer to go to one of the coasts,” though he hasn’t publicly discussed his intentions.