Giants hoping to move fast on Stanton
ORLANDO — Giants general manager Bobby Evans and Michael Hill strolled through the hotel lobby like two men who wanted to pull off a Giancarlo Stanton trade.
“We’re going to go shoot hoops,” Evans said.
It was a joke. Evans didn’t pull on his high-tops. There’s no playtime at the general managers’ meetings, where Hill, the president of baseball operations for the Marlins, is talking about moving Stanton and Evans’ Giants are talking about acquiring him.
It seems a perfect fit, one team desperate to shed the biggest contract in baseball history and the other desperate to add someone who knows what a home run trot feels like.
Although there’s a growing belief in the industry that the Giants are near or at the top of Stanton’s wish list, both sides would like to know exactly where the other stands sooner rather than later, if only to leave time to conduct other business pertinent to their respective rosters.
Striking fast on offseason roster moves has been a preference for the Giants over the years, and this is no exception.
“Sometimes you can’t dictate timing,” said Evans, who met with Hill on Tuesday, the second day of the GM meetings. “Whether you’re dealing with one club or another, we can’t dictate to them what our timing is. We have a number of priorities, and we’re going to want to do everything we can to move things along, but ultimately, we don’t control that timing. Sure, we’d love to be clear on whether they’re in or out.”
Though the Giants are targeting Stanton — the right fielder is due $295 million over
the next 10 years in a heavily back-loaded contract — as a solution to their power-deficient lineup, Hill said he’s talking with every team at the meetings about the availability of his high-priced players. The Marlins are open to moving two other outfielders, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, among others.
The Cardinals are just as eager as the Giants to land Stanton, and several other teams are said to have some level of interest. The Red Sox, for now, seem more focused on free agent J.D. Martinez.
The Stanton-based lobby talk at the Waldorf Astoria has been across the board. One Boston media outlet (the Herald) cited a source saying Stanton wouldn’t accept a trade to Boston or St. Louis, and another (NBC Sports Boston) referenced a source saying he hasn’t ruled out any team.
Hill said he knows Stanton’s preferences and that once the Marlins reach an agreement, they’d present it to him. San Francisco is said to be on Stanton’s radar as a National League city in his native California — he grew up in Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles County) as a fan of the Dodgers, who could make a play for him.
“I won’t get into particulars about Stanton,” Hill said, “but I’ve probably touched base with all my counterparts to see what their offseason plans are. ... I would qualify it as a work in progress.”
Giants outfield prospect Heliot Ramos has been mentioned as a possible part of a Stanton trade, according to the Marlins’ website. Ramos, 18, was the Giants’ first pick (19th overall) in the June draft out of Puerto Rico and hit .348 with six homers in 35 games in the Arizona Rookie League.
Along with bullpen help and a third baseman, the Giants are seeking two outfielders, including a defensive-minded center fielder, which Evans called “our focus.” If they get both, Hunter Pence’s role would be limited, perhaps as a platoon with Denard Span in left.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to upgrade the defense,” Evans said, “and if that moves Pence into more of a part-time role, then we have to be prepared for it.”
The Giants see Steven Duggar as a possible center fielder of the future, and his presence gives the Giants the option to find a short-timer to play the position, Evans said. Duggar likely will open next season in Triple-A.
Adding Stanton, who makes $25 million next season, could make it nearly impossible for the Giants to stay beneath the $197 million threshold for the competitive-balance tax. They’d face severe penalties for exceeding the threshold a fourth straight year.
The Giants could trade a high-priced starting pitcher to clear roster space. “We’ve been asked about some of our starters,” Evans said.
For now, the emphasis isn’t on a downsize but an upgrade, and nobody would provide it more than Stanton.
Miami right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, seen batting during a July game against Cincinnati, hit 59 home runs last season in a career-high 159 games. The Giants as a team hit just 128.