We're still three months from the busy July trade season, but that doesn't stop rumors from circulating all season long. The most recent involves Marlins star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and the New York Mets.
In a recent article by MLB insider Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the idea of a deal that would send Stanton to the Mets for their two top prospects in right-hander Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d'Arnaud was kicked around.
Despite their offseason fire sale, the Marlins were hesitant to take offers on their 23-year-old budding superstar, and understandably so.
Entering the season, Stanton already had three big league seasons under his belt and 93 home runs. Battling injuries last season, he still managed a career-high 37 home runs in just 449 at-bats while leading the NL with a .608 slugging percentage.
Despite the team's struggles, Stanton was none too happy to see the core of the team moved this offseason, setting the franchise up for a wide-scale rebuild in the years ahead.
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
Under team control through the 2016 season, Stanton doesn't have any say in the matter to this point, but there is no question his production could take a hit as the losses start to pile up.
It could be in their best interest to move him, as there are few players in the game today who would net a bigger return than the young slugger.
The Mets could certainly build one of the more compelling trade packages, but would the dynamic duo of Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud be enough? Here is a closer look at the two prospects.
He joined the Mets at the deadline in 2011 in a straight-up trade for Carlos Beltran, as the Giants gave up one of the game's top young arms for two months of Beltran and a shot at the playoffs.
Wheeler opened last season with his first taste of Double-A and ended the season with six Triple-A starts. All told, he went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA and 8.9 K/9 last season, though the team opted not to give him a September call-up.
Long term, a rotation made up of Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, fellow top prospect Noah Syndergaard and Wheeler could be the driving force behind the Mets' return to contention. That is, if they opt against dealing Wheeler.
Though he's still only 24 years old, d'Arnaud has already been used as a trade chip in a pair of blockbuster deals.
Back in 2009, the Phillies shipped him to Toronto in the deal that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Then, this offseason, he was traded from Toronto to the Mets for reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.
It's understandable he's been so in demand, as franchise catchers are few and far between, and he certainly has the look of an impact big league backstop.
Had it not been for a torn PCL, he likely would have been the Blue Jays' everyday catcher by the end of last season. Through 67 games at the Triple-A level, he hit .333/.380/.595 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI.
With John Buck off to a torrid start (.375 BA, five HR, 15 RBI), d'Arnaud continues to bide his time in Triple-A, but there is little question the 32-year-old is simply holding down the fort until d'Arnaud is ready.
So, would Wheeler and d'Arnaud be enough?
The Marlins have done a nice job stockpiling prospects since the trade deadline last season, but Wheeler and d'Arnaud would still rank among the best in their organization if they were added.
Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner both profile as front-line starters for the Marlins down the road, and Wheeler would give them a dynamic young trio to lead the pitching side of their rebuild.
Losing Stanton would be a huge blow to the team's offense now and in the long term, but d'Arnaud has a chance to be a special player at a premium position.
Replacing Stanton would be no small feat, but the team does have a pair of high-end outfield prospects in Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick who could help ease that loss once they arrive on the scene.
There is no question Stanton is a rare talent, but few teams would be capable or willing to move two of the game's top 25 prospects (h/t Baseball America) in a deal, so this may well be the best package available to the Marlins at this point.
By no means do the Marlins have to deal Stanton now, but he will be arbitration eligible for the first time next offseason and in line for a huge raise. If they opt to trade him now, it's hard to envision a better package of young talent on the cusp of contributing than what the Mets have to offer.