Pittsburgh Pirates Should Sell Part of the Farm for Giancarlo Stanton

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2012

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins hits a home run against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park on September 4, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

When the Miami Marlins initiated their biennial fire sale this month, trading three useful players to the Toronto Blue Jays, one notable star was left behind.

Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' best player and one of the brightest young stars in all of baseball, expressed his displeasure with Miami's most recent salary dump. Understandably, Stanton may not be making plans for a long-term future in South Beach.

The Marlins have stated that they have no intention of trading Stanton, and this is also not a surprise. He is one of the best players in all of baseball and is under control for four more seasons, including 2013 at the league minimum. No team would openly welcome the idea of parting with such a player.

That said, the Marlins' most recent trade pushes their window of contention back to a period likely beyond Stanton's time with the club, and Miami will not be thrilled if he remains unhappy. If the Pirates can swoop in with a legitimate offer, Marlins management will at least have to pay attention.

The Pirates are in a position to make such an offer, and this is exactly what they should do. Their optimal package will not have as much value as FanGraphs' Eno Sarris suggests would be equivalent to that of Stanton, but given the Marlins' circumstances they would likely at least consider the Pittsburgh offer.

The Bucs should offer Miami the following players for Stanton: Jameson Taillon, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and a few lesser Triple-A pitchers (Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson, etc). The Marlins would receive a ton of talent, yet the Pirates would retain a few high-end prospects while locking up one of the game's best players for the foreseeable future.

Taillon would be, by far, the biggest loss, as he is a potential future ace who has progressed well in the minors. But the Pirates are in the very unique and advantageous situation of having two pitchers, in Taillon and Gerrit Cole, who are top-ten prospects and likely future aces. They obviously would do well to keep both of them, but chances to acquire young players of Stanton's caliber are exceptionally rare and Taillon is the slightly weaker prospect at this time.

Marte and Polanco are both elite outfield prospects, and the Marlins would do well to obtain both players. With Stanton and Andrew McCutchen in the outfield, the Bucs will have less of a need for Marte, and the loss of Polanco is softened by the fact that the Pirates have similarly developed hitting prospects in the system in Alen Hanson and Josh Bell.

Sarris' analysis states that acquiring Stanton would require four top-50 prospects, and here the Pirates are only offering up three. Adding Locke and/or Wilson would give the Marlins a few additional pieces. It wouldn't quite be fair value, but it would be hard for Miami management to just ignore an offer containing this much talent.

In exchange, the Pirates would acquire Stanton, who hit 43 home runs and had a .970 OPS last season at the age of 22. Stanton and McCutchen would combine to generate an incredibly potent young outfield, one that could lead future Pirate teams for years to come. 

It is also possible that the Pirates might be able to sign Stanton to a somewhat club-friendly extension. While he is more established this year than McCutchen was last year and will command better terms as a result, the offer of playing beside McCutchen for the majority of his career would be a pretty appealing one.

The Pirates have a tremendous amount of high-ceiling talent in their current farm system, and even after this hypothetical trade the Bucs would have four top-100 prospects in Cole, Luis Heredia, Hanson and Bell. You don't trade away multiple top prospects in anything other than special situations, but the opportunity to acquire a player like Stanton is very rare and the Pirates should jump at any chance they have.