St. Louis Cardinals: Giancarlo Stanton or Manny Machado are viable options

MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Giancarlo Stanton
MIAMI, FL - JULY 11: Giancarlo Stanton /

It is trade deadline season, and the rumors are swirling. One of which is Giancarlo Stanton and the idea of him being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Worth it, or should the Cardinals go after a big name free agent?

There is cause for concern in either direction the St. Louis Cardinals would choose to go if both of these were options. The contract for Giancarlo Stanton is one of those mega-deals that last over ten years, 13 to be exact.

The original deal lasts until his age-38 season in 2028 with numerous player options occurring every year from 2021 on.Add that on top of the asking price of the Miami Marlins and it is a decision tough enough to give any baseball mind a headache.

How about Manny Machado? Well, he is team controlled through next season and is expected to cash in during the 2018 Winter Meetings.

There are two options for the Cardinals: attempt to trade for him next season and lure him into the St. Louis lifestyle or try to sign him in free agency.

Obviously, going the second route would mean that the organization would not need to give up any prospects. However, bringing him in mid-season could be what it takes to convince him to remain in St. Louis for his big pay day.

Stanton’s contract ensures that he could remain in St. Louis for a long period of time while Machado could be a half season rental. It is not out of doubt that Stanton could do the same if he believed he could get more money on the market, but that seems unlikely.

What do both of them bring to St. Louis?

If you have been asleep and have not followed the MLB in recent years, both of these guys are all-stars.

Stanton is a four-time National League All-Star, Silver Slugger award winner (2014), Hank Aaron award winner (2014), and NL home run champion (2014). Oh, and he also won the 2016 home run derby. He is known for his raw power and long bombs that often land near Cuba.

Stanton has hit at least 22 home runs in each season that he has played in with batting averages in the .250-.290 range. This season he is up to 26 home runs and has been able to stay healthy, which surprises me some. He sports a .302 BABIP, which is not a career best by no measure, but is up from the past two seasons.

One knock on Stanton is his tendency to be a free swinger. That said, in 2017 his strikeout percentage is down. It is actually a career low 23.8%, but that may regress back to his career average of 28% as the season progresses.

Machado is just as good of a talent, if not better. He flashes a nice glove defensively at third base, but there have been rumblings of him moving to shortstop as his career proceeds. Manny is a two-time gold glove winner and three-time American League All-Star.

Although Machado is not the proven power hitter that Stanton is, he has had 35 and 37 home runs in the past two seasons. He has 18 dongs this year, which has been considered a disappointing season for most. The bright spot for him comes from his hard contact rate, ranking ninth in exit velocity with an average of 93.5 MPH.

His BABIP is a career low of .239 so there is plenty of reason to believe there is some bad luck in his play. I would be 100% comfortable with plugging him in as the long-term option at shortstop.

What’s the cost?

The cost of both will be extremely expensive in one way or another. Stanton is set to accumulate at least $25 million each season starting next year and would cost at least three or four highly-rated prospects. Poll-master Brenden Schaeffer asked Cardinals nation what they thought of giving up a major league talent in Stephen Piscotty and two quality arms. They believe it to be a good deal.

If that poll indicated what the trade could be, I would be the first in line to sign up for Mozeliak and company to pull the trigger. However, I believe it would take much more.

The Cardinals may be able to afford it too. There is an influx of outfield talent and even a crowded left side of the infield. Throwing in a talent like Oscar Mercado, Aledmys Diaz, or even Paul DeJong could be enough for an agreement. This is just me spit-balling at this point. Even throwing another major league player into a trade could be a good idea.

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On the other hand, Machado could come at a less steep price. Baltimore may see the reading on the wall with Machado leaving and offer him up at next season’s deadline. If the Cardinals managed to get in on those talks, surely the price for a potential half-season rental would be less expensive.

Spotrac projects Machado’s market value at $20 million, which is considerably cheaper than Stanton. To calculate this, they looked at the production and costs of other stars such as Mike Trout, Evan Longoria, and Robinson Cano. The base calculated value is at an eight year deal worth $160 million.

Regardless, something needs to happen for the St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals current state is not where it needs to be to compete. They no longer have a scary bat in the lineup and have a bunch of fringe guys who have managed to keep this team on the cusp of competing in the division.

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Guys like Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko, and Lance Lynn should all be in trade talks in some form or another. Carpenter is a shell of himself with a low batting average. Gyorko is having a career year and should be capitalized on while his value is high. Lynn is in a contract year anticipating a pay day.

Do the Cardinals absolutely need any of these players going forward? Sure, missing Gyorko’s bat and Carpenter’s calming presence would diminish the team. However, it would mean the organization is moving in a new direction to compete and would allow other players to step in leadership roles.

Talent like Paul DeJong, Luke Voit, and Harrison Bader could be the next crop of major league talent and the front office should consider letting them shine. Two of those three have already shown their capability of carrying the offense. If they could implant a Machado or Stanton in the middle of the lineup with those guys, the Cardinals might be on to something.

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Do I expect one of these two to join the St. Louis Cardinals? Not really, but there is a need for a superstar talent. The Cubs have multiple superstars who are not going away anytime soon. There is no harm in trying to play catch by acquiring a young guy like Stanton or Machado.