Fact vs. fantasy on Stanton & Co.
ORLANDO – The annual general managers meetings might be in the shadows of Disney World, but the Waldorf Astoria is where true fantasies come alive, where teams believe magical deals or free agent signings can turn into you into the 2017 Houston Astros.
Certainly, it’s the land of hyperbole, too, where agents can market their clients as the missing piece, with Scott Boras already positioning J.D. Martinez as the Zeus of sluggers, seeking $200 million.
Oh, yes, let the GM meetings begin as GMs, top executives, agents and media began filling the Waldorf lobby Monday, a prelude to the winter meetings three weeks down the road.
There will be a plethora of trade talks at these meetings, and while it will be an upset if any of consequence are consummated, the origins of these winter trades will be right on these grounds.
Oh, and there will be plenty of Fake News too. The Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants already are denying they had any talks of sending Jason Heyward and his bloated contract to the Giants for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Mark Melancon, and surely, there will be plenty more rumors that will be dashed by week’s end.
The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers already are bracing themselves to be accused as potential landing spots for lucrative free agents and high-priced trade chips.
Sorry, wrong administration, wrong era.
The Yankees, let them say it loud and clear again, will go under the $197 million luxury tax for the 2018 season so they can spend as wildly as they want a year from now. This means no Yu Darvish. No Martinez. No Giancarlo Stanton.
The Dodgers, who spent an MLBleading $244 million in player salaries last season, according to their year-end payroll reports submitted to MLB and obtained by USA TODAY Sports, also plan to trim their payroll. Darvish, last seen having two atrocious starts in the World Series, might want to return to the Dodgers, but the Dodgers have little interest in him.
The Dodgers, who paid $31.8 million in taxes a year ago, will again be hit with another bill exceeding $30 million. Yet they will owe only $7.4 million to players no longer with them next year compared with $36.1 million this season.
While the Dodgers plan to keep trimming away their payroll, the Marlins want to slash theirs, under new owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter. They have $95.2 million on their books for the 2018 season, and they can instantly wipe off $25 million next year by trading Stanton.
Stanton, who hit 59 home runs and had 132 RBI last season, is the envy of every team in baseball.
Yet he has one blemish: $295 million, the amount of money left on his contract the next 10 years.
You will hear plenty of rumors linked to Stanton this week, but the reality is there are only a precious few teams interested in him.
The Giants, who are flush with money and mere spectators in last year’s record home run harvest, would love to have him. They don’t have prospects, but they have the cash.
The St. Louis Cardinals, who missed the playoffs the last two seasons, are one of the few teams that has the tandem of money and prospects, but they also know if you’re going to take on at least $200 million, there’s no reason to give up prospects too. And no, prized pitcher Alex Reyes isn’t going anywhere.
Oh, and let’s stop with the Philadelphia Phillies rumors. Remember, Stanton has a no-trade clause. If he wants to keep on losing, and be part of a rebuilding club, why not just stay put where he bought a glorious penthouse in South Beach than going to Philly?
It’s like the silly notion the Arizona Diamondbacks will try to keep Martinez, who provided a lethal punch with MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt. Sorry, but they are not going to add $25 million to the budget, even for a guy who hit 45 home runs. Now, if someone traded for Zack Greinke and his $30 million contract, it might be different, but that’s not happening, either.
There realistically are only four potential free agents who will receive in excess of $100 million this winter: starting pitchers Darvish and Jake Arrieta, first baseman Eric Hosmer and possibly Martinez.
A year from now, those will be bargain-basement deals with outfielder Bryce Harper and third baseman Manny Machado seeking in excess of $400 million and three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw expected to opt out of his Dodgers’ deal and top $300 million.
The sentiment all 30 teams share this week is hoping they can persuade their own peers and a lobby full of player agents to come to their way of thinking.
It’s the time, and place, for everyone to dream.
The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs and had 132 RBI last season. He’s owed $295 million over the next 10 years. ERIC HARTLINE/USA TODAY SPORTS