Normally, when baseball’s Winter Meetings are less than a week from their commencement, speculation surrounding free agent signings and potential trades of dozens of players are swirling like crazy around the baseball blogosphere. However, this year seems to have a bit of a different flavor, as most of the news around the league is about two players only—Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani.
As Monday’s lunch hour approaches, the Dodgers are still alive in both the Stanton and Ohtani sweepstakes, at least theoretically. Personally, I’m in the camp believing that the Los Angeles management crew is prioritizing the 2018 team budget, while continuing its quest to steer towards the luxury tax threshold. Landing either Stanton or Ohtani will be very improbable, although the front office is likely exploring every possibility in case a deal could be made which cannot be turned away. Conceivably, Ohtani’s initial payday may be limited by the structure of the collective bargaining agreement, but as far as Stanton goes, at least according to a number of reports, the biggest priority for the Marlins is moving his salary, while the quality of players they receive in return is secondary in nature.
As it stands now, Ohtani has narrowed down his possible landing spot, as there are seven clubs still alive—the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Giants, Mariners, Rangers and Cubs. It’s perceived that Ohtani will eventually be rewarded with a huge contract down the road, but at least for the first year or two, his paycheck may lurk somewhere around the league minimum, which could allow the Dodgers make a play for the Japanese superstar while maintaining their own payroll guidelines.
Over five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters, the 23-year-old Ohtani has posted a slash line of .286/.358/.500 offensively, while putting up a 2.52 ERA with 624 strikeouts in 534 innings on the bump. His heater has been clocked in excess of 100 MPH, and his batting practice home runs have been measured in the 500 feet range. It’s no wonder that fans of the remaining teams in the mix are beyond excited.
According to popular belief, the Marlins have agreed in principle to trades with both the Giants and the Cardinals, and everyone at the table is just waiting on Stanton to approve of one, or both, or neither of the deals. Some pundits belief that San Francisco may have the upper-hand, yet others believe that if it were up to Stanton himself, he’d much rather play for the Dodgers.
The 28-year-old Stanton hit .281 with a career-high 59 home runs and 132 RBI for the Marlins in 2017. He has 10 years and $295 million remaining on his record-breaking contract, which he signed in November 2014.
While Stanton certainly has the power to force Miami’s hand with his no-trade clause, many still believe that Los Angeles is the unlikeliest of destinations, just based on his salary alone.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @)