Gi­ants hop­ing to move fast on Stan­ton

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By John Shea

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 here about the avail­abil­ity of his high-priced play­ers. The Mar-

lins 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) at­trib­uted a source say­ing he 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.

Lynne Sladky / As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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