Trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
Mmm, yeah, that's the stuff.
Sorry, what? Ohhh, you meant more about the possible trade? And other players beyond Stanton? I mean, there is no one but Giancarlo; he's a God in pajamas. A gladiator with a stick. The closest this baseball generation will ever get to Barry Bonds.
In all seriousness, the Marlins are under new management and have been pretty vocal about their desire to shed payroll and retool. Stanton is signed to the biggest contract in baseball (which, thanks to Curt Flood, the strikes, etc. is also the de facto biggest contract in all of professional sports), so he's an obvious target for Miami to shop around. And, because he's toting around 295 million albatrosses around his neck, teams like the Mariners, with a farm system that feels emptier by the day but hypothetical room in their payroll, can realistically dream of acquiring him.
In 2013 Bleacher Report did a piece on what it would take for the Mariners to trade for the then-23-year-old: Taijuan Walker, James Paxton (tossed in there for "his upside as a backend starter"), Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Tom Wilhelmsen/Stephen Pryor (yes, they were used interchangeably), or some combination thereof. Just for fun, I checked in with Fangraphs to see just how lopsided that trade might have been. Since 2013 Stanton has been worth 21.5 fWAR, while that entire haul has been worth 22.2 fWAR; saved almost entirely by Mr. Upside Backend Starter's 10.2 fWAR. However, it's also important to note that Stanton became a free agent during this time and signed MegaContract, which brings us nicely into today.
Stanton will scarcely require a return like what was proposed in 2013, but it remains to be seen just how desperate the Marlins are to offload his contract. A conservative estimate for what it would take to get Stanton likely looks something like this: Player A (upper minors guy, likely a pitcher, with major league service time and cost-controlled. Think Marco Gonzales or Andrew Moore, though Gonzales seems more likely) + Player B (mid-minors guy, again bonus points for pitching since that’s a dark spot for Miami, with a decent prospect sheen; Nick Neidert, or comparable) + Player C (low minors, moderately high ceiling, thrown in because three is better than two and everyone likes a lottery ticket; basically any non Kyle Lewis/Sam Carlson/Evan White who hasn’t reached AAA) for Giancarlo Stanton and his mammoth contract. Now, after all this, the real question is if this move would make sense, and the obvious answer is absolutely not. There’s no question Stanton is amazing, but the Mariners are a team who have continued to push back an inevitable rebuild and, once their time finally arrives, Stanton would make said rebuild demonstrably more difficult; that contract is debilitating. Additionally, Stanton has a full no-trade clause and, though he’s expressed a desire to leave if the Marlins go full tear-down, I’m not sure Seattle would be the first place on his mind when relocating for a winner. Look, I want a lineup of endless dinger possibilities as much as the next Jack Z, but given where this organization is right now it's both highly unlikely and a bit unwise to trade for Stanton. We'll feel better eating Haniger-harvested, all-organic brussels sprouts, instead of gorging on chocolate molten lava cake for a month straight.
Beyond Stanton, the other two names that Miami has been vocal about wanting off their books are Martin Prado and Dee Gordon. Prado is currently 34 and stands to make $28.5 million over the next two years. No. No, thank you. Gordon is intriguing, and would be a great fit within the Mariners philosophy and as an unbelievably fun player to cheer for; positionally he’d be a little bit of a nightmare. If acquired, one of two things would have to happen: 1) Gordon, who has only ever played shortstop and second base in the majors, would be moved to the outfield. Nothing has ever gone poorly when this organization has put middle infielders in the outfield, right guys? 2) Gordon would kickstart a chain reaction, wherein Jean Segura would move back to second, and Robinson Canó would make his new multi-million dollar home at first base. This is a move that’s coming, to be sure, but right now? This season? Seems pretty unlikely. If you wanted to play this hypothetical game, you could likely get Gordon for Ben Gamel and a low minors arm (Matt Festa, or another guy playing in the AFL perhaps), or a decent prospect plus a reliever. The Marlins get ~38 million off the books, the Mariners have a hyper-athletic guy who stole 60 bases last season; the only problem is where to put him.
Comically, the Marlins have voiced an unwillingness to part with J.T. Realmuto, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Justin Bour and Dan Straily, which is pretty cute and pretty dumb. Sorry Derek, you don’t get to just trade away all your expensive players while clinging to your good, low-cost players. Of those, Justin Bour seems like the best fit, in terms of need, but he’s a lefty with pretty strong splits and his type is going to be readily available in free agency. The M’s reportedly have some financial flexibility, but lack many big chip trade pieces, so it makes sense, when the potential players are comparable, to pay in cash rather than other players. Marcell Ozuna has long been on Seattle fans’ radars, but will cost $10.9 million and will be a free agent after 2019. Edinson Volquez would have been an interesting target but had Tommy John surgery and likely won’t make it back until late in 2018; Wei-Yin Chen had a partial UCL tear that didn’t require surgery, but missed five months on the DL, had health issues beforehand, and the last thing the M’s need is another injury risk in their rotation. Kyle Barraclough or Jose Urena, who appears to be Wade LeBlanc lite, are of interest, but the old adage “Beware, beware, of the arm, that has come from the Marlins farm” still holds true (I know they traded for Barraclough, just let the rhyme work). Ultimately, though the Mariners have room in their payroll, it seems unlikely that Miami will be the beneficiary of that wealth. Long live Giancarlo.
Update: I didn't even bother to include Ichiro in this because, well, it feels obvious- the Mariners are not going to trade for Ichiro Suzuki. But then we got this explosive little nugget:
Official: The Marlins declined their club option on OF Ichiro Suzuki.— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) November 3, 2017
Now what? Who knows. Discuss amongst yourselves- I'll just be here remembering the chills from his ninth inning home run on that Wednesday afternoon this season.