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Why the Rays are taking interest in Giancarlo Stanton rumors

Photo by Arturo Pardavila III

An international phenom is perhaps the only thing that will draw more intrigue during the MLB Winter Meetings than the Stanton rumors.

Zero – zip – zilch – nil – nada.

These are the chances that the Tampa Bay Rays acquire either Giancarlo Stanton or Shohei Ohtani. However, the Rays should be paying close attention to where the former ends up because, reports indicate the Miami Marlins will trade Stanton in the coming weeks. Over the last several weeks, we have learned that the two favorites to land the 2017 home run king are the San Francisco Giants and St Louis Cardinals.

Coincidentally, the Giants are also in on Ohtani.  And, given the minimal salary impact, based on the new collective bargaining agreement, their is no reason why the Giants couldn’t realistically land both sluggers.

How does this affect the Rays?

Word got out on November 15 that the Rays and Cardinals were conversing on a trade centered around closer Alex Colome.

As a team last season, the Cardinals had 43 saves – Colome led the majors with 47.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch notes that those talks could very easily “shift” to include third baseman Evan Longoria. But again, conversations involving Longoria, like Colome, could be contingent on one man and his no-trade clause.

If the Cardinals are able to obtain the Miami slugger it would create a log-jam in their outfield. A quick look at the 40-man roster and you’ll see that St. Louis has five capable MLB outfielders. They do not ‘need’ Stanton. However, when you have a chance to get an organizational-changing player like him, you go for it.

Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty are locked up through 2021 and 2023, respectively. Randal Grichuk is entering his first year of arbitration and is projected to earn $2.8MM next year. And Tommy Pham burst onto the scene last year with a .306/.411/.520 slash line after never truly being considered a top-prospect. In fact, Pham was a 27-year-old rookie in 2015.

Even if the Cardinals were not creating headlines with the Stanton rumors it would still be worth watching to see where the bulk of the outfield playing time went. Add to that the recently acquired (SEA) top-prospect Tyler O’Neill, who is expected to make his big-league debut at some point in 2018, and the Cardinals have quite the talent pool roaming the outfield at Busch stadium.

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Cardinals don’t have a closer

Expect the Rays to trade Colome very soon – St. Louis being the most likely trade partner. The interesting part will be whether or not a Stanton deal is made before or after a trade for Colome.

Since the rumors around Colome have been public for over a month now, a fair assumption might be that the teams can not agree on a deal. Perhaps the Rays want more than what the Cardinals are offering, or the Cardinals just don’t want to give up the player that has become the Rays’ main focus.

Stanton changes everything

St Louis might be hesitant to part with O’Neil, having just acquired him, but Stanton’s arrival could change that. Perhaps, Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch thinks he needs to sweeten the pot with Tampa Bay based on conversations. Or, more to the point on Stanton, he becomes open to dealing anyone – including any prospects.

This is where things could get interesting.

The Rays would do well to acquire a right-handed bat, bullpen help, and perhaps a true second baseman. However, if they are compelled to “blow it up”, as some may suggest. All positions become an option. In fact, scouting director Rob Metzler has probably spent plenty of time looking at the Cardinals’ top prospects – regardless of position.

Names like O’Neil, Pham, and catcher Carson Kelly could all be in play for a blockbuster multi-player deal to a Florida organization. It remains to be seen if Miami will get top-prospects in exchange for Stanton, or if they will obtain salary relief – they won’t get both.

With Longoria added to the mix, the Rays and Cardinals could strike a deal even if St. Louis misses out on the Stanton sweepstakes.

Keep an eye on this situation – the Winter Meetings start Monday December 10 in Orlando.

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