SocraticGadfly: #Cardinals look to Plan B after Stanton spooks out

December 09, 2017

#Cardinals look to Plan B after Stanton spooks out

Giancarlo Stanton 
So, Miami Marlins $295 million albatross Giancarlo Stanton won't waive his no-trade clause to come to St. Louis, even while remaining clueless about the lux tax — especially since it gets tougher in some ways in its new version and not realizing that it is highly unlikely either the Dodgers or the Yankees are going to trade for him — unless, as appears, Brian Cashman has done a volte face on lux tax issues in Gotham, with Great Red Satan reporting that Marlins-Yankees talks could be near fruition.

So, what's next in St. Louie?

The Plan B of some sort that informed fans have always known was on the back burner of the Hot Stove League and now is on the front burner.

And, let's at least be thankful the Iron Galoot said no before the start of winter meetings, so Mozeliak and Girsch are already in position to deal.

Marcel Ozuna
Christian Yelich
One portion, or one fork, of that Plan B is looking at Stanton's current outfield running buddies Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. For a mix of reasons, from adding a lefty bat to seeing his peak potential dampened more by Miami's stadium, to seeing a steadier player, and seeing one under club control for five more years, the Cardinals reportedly lean toward Yelich. (I expect Ozuna to attract something in the $10 million range on arbitration this year, or at an absolute minimum, more than the $7 million Yelich gets next year. Yelich is also a year younger.

But, that's not the Cards' only option.

Florida's other low-budget baseball team (and more on that later), the Tampa Bay Rays, could also become a trade partner.

Evan Longoria
The Cardinals have already hinted at Alex Colomé being a trade target to be their new closer. More recently, the Birds have also hinted at asking about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.

If the ask by Miami, in turns of return players, isn't too, too high for Yelich or Ozuna, it's certainly possible Longoria could also be a target. His next three years are at or under $15 million. He goes to $18M and $19M after that, with a $13M team option in the sixth year left on his contract. Yelich has a $15M team option that same year. Even without exercising his opt-out, Stanton himself, at $29M, would be making a million more in 2022.

So, yes, both are affordable in terms of salary, Yelich, or Ozuna possible, plus Longoria.

Now, are they affordable in terms of trade, of players?

Let's think. For Yelich or Ozuna?

Either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for starters. Either Yelich is in left, and Tommy Pham is your likely center fielder with Dexter Fowler in right, or Ozuna is in right and Fowler in left. (Though he needs to be out of center, I'm OK with Fowler in right.) Add other players as necessary without breaking the prospect bank.

For landing Longoria? Cards third baseman Jedd Gyorko would of course be redundant. As with the Miami OF trade, add other players as necessary. Gyorko is somewhat cheaper, with the Pads picking up $3M of his contract each of the next two years, and a bit younger. After that, the Rays could pick up his team option, and after that, decide whether to give him a QO or just let him walk. Throw in a mid-level prospect to sweeten the pot, maybe, or otherwise add players as necessary.

Especially if the Cards made both these trades happen?

Giancarlo Grifter, if we throw out 2017, while at the same time normalizing his previous years, with their injuries, to 162-game stats is a 5-WAR guy who doesn't walk a lot and isn't that fast.

Yelich + Longoria are 6 WAR or better. And, they have more stable stats, generally, than Stanton, or Ozuna.

But, the Cards may need to temper their thoughts on Yelich or Ozuna. If Jeter is successful in dumping Stanton for no bigger salary back than Starlin Castro, as is being rumored, he may not have a major urgency in moving other players.

Of course, there's a different path in Plan B, too.

Josh Donaldson
On Twitter, James Cameron suggested a week ago he thought this was better for the Cardinals. He has a proposed trade on Fangraphs: The Cardinals send Gyrko and current first baseman Matt Carpenter to Toronto for top-flight third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Pluses? Donaldson has higher performance than Giancarlo Stanton, and certainly above Yelich or Ozuna, and about what one of them plus Longoria have combined in WAR.

Minuses? A free agent after this year. And, Donaldson is four years older than Stanton, and several years older than Yelich and Ozuna. and at a position where people don't play much after 35. Plus, in the first version of Plan B, Longoria's available for a lot less.

And on contracts, remember the last one-year player for whom the Cards traded? Jason Heyward crashed and burned here, then got the Cubs to overpay him.

So, I'm against Cameron. But, it is theoretically an option.

Now, an additional word or two on the lux tax. The Dodgers are miles over. The Yankees are a fair bit over. We should note that tax is based on salary on the 40-man roster, too, not the 25-man roster. It also includes about $11 million in pension and medical benefits. PLUS — starting next year? If a team is more than $40 million over the cap, its first pick in the First Year Player Draft, per MLB, gets kicked down 10 spots. ALSO, the new tax includes surtaxes, in addition to repeater rates. These aren't too bad for each dollar in the $20-$40M overage, but each $ over $40M is hit at 42.5 percent — the first year. A repeater rate for that is at 45 percent.

So, through the life of the current CBA, through 2021, there's two numbers to watch. One is whatever the lux tax line is, and the other, even for richer teams, is that number plus $40 million. The draft choice penalty kicks in every year that's exceeded, not just for repeater teams.

Cashman in New York WAS under orders to get below the lux tax line. The Yankees were not too far over the threshold last season and are now losing the old $25M/yr contract of CC Sabathia. The Dodgers would, at a minimum, I think, like to get below that $40M-plus threshold for 2018, and absolutely for 2019.

But, if Cash Man makes this trade, they're possibly still above the lux tax and at the multiple repeater 50 percent rate. (This was written before the Yanks dumped Chase Headley for a scrubbini.) In fact, they're probably at the smaller 12.5 percent tax level at the $20M-plus mark. And, when others want their paydays in the future? Almost surely at that $40M-plus threshold. They're lucky to still have two pre-arb years on Aaron Judge. Wonder if MLBPA is going to use his case to ask to further address arbitration-related issues down the road.

More details on some of those issues at this post of mine.

If both Ozuna and Yelich get traded, and the Yankees deal falls through, that lets the Iron Giant play with a team full of AAA players next year. It should fall through, but Manfred won't investigate it.

Sidebar — When are more people, including Commish Rob Manfred and those around him, going to admit that Central/South Florida just ain't good MLB territory, and not make excuses for Tampa-St Pete that don't wash?


That "Central" is X-ed out because Tampa-St. Pete, like Miami, is South Florida. This goes back to a 2014 discussion that is reflected in those last two link.

After this initial discussion, one Rays fan, then another, on this group baseball blog I used to belong claimed that Tampa / St. Pete isn't south Florida. I said BS at the time, and five plus years later, now officially confirm that.

By latitude, Miami is about 25.5°North and Jacksonville 31.5N. Halfway in between? Orlando is exactly 28.5N. WELL north of Tampa-St. Pete. BOOM.

Said bloggers can, on both that, and being Democrats only non-Republican voters, kiss my ass.


PDiddie said...

Cheer up! Ozuna is peaking.

Gadfly said...

Oh, indeed. I'll take him as a decent second offering. And, while it didn't make big news, the Piscotty trade gave them good depth. They're still in talks on both Colome and Longoria, and reportedly on Machado now, too, which I am kind of doubtful, as the Cards tend to avoid Scott Boras clients.