PHOENIX • If there has been a fantasy baseball-level fascination that has preoccupied a subset of Cardinals Nation for the past few months in the chats, on Twitter, or wherever fans gather to hatch trade dreams, it has been about acquiring Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Save yourself some time, say the Marlins. He's not moving.
Even other teams have stopped calling.
“I think that message has been received, and he’s a Miami Marlin," the team's president of baseball operations Michael Hall said Tuesday. "Nobody’s coming at us. We tried to squash that last offseason, and our peers have respected that and have taken us at our word, and that’s what it is.”
Stanton's name blowing in the trade winds was always spurious, at this point.
The Marlins are positioned to contend in the National League East this coming year, and while Stanton's salary may double through arbitration it still won't reach the stratosphere that has scared away the Marlins in the past. Stanton is coming off a season where he established himself as the premiere slugger in the National League, and he will finish top three in the Most Valuable Player award voting later this week. He's seen as Clayton Kershaw's chief rival for the award, and had Stanton not missed the last month of the season after being hit by a pitch he may have overtaken the lefty as the favorite for the award.
Stanton made $6.5 million in 2014. He has a second crack at arbitration this winter and could at least double his salary. After the 2015 season, he'll have one more turn through arbitration that could really let his salary soar. After the 2016 season, he'll be a free agent.
The timing for a trade was always off this winter.
The more likely move for the Marlins would be the trade him with the pressure of the July deadline shaping the market or field offers a year from now before Stanton enters the final year of control.
The Cardinals, Boston, and a host of other teams certainly have interest in Stanton. But their interest doesn't amount to much more than a wasted phone call -- because Miami had no interest in moving Stanton.
They are trying to keep him.
"We want the player to be a Marlin," Hill told reporters during the GM availability on Tuesday. "We're just keeping an open dialogue and letting them know what we want to do. … Giancarlo Stanton is a Marlin and we're going to do everything in our power to keep him as long as we can."
That could mean an extension that exceeds $200 million and, of course, an average annual salary that surpasses $20 million. It's a place the Marlins haven't gone before, but then revenues have never been this high before -- even for teams famous for their fire sales and franchise policy. Stanton may actually force the Marlins to re-think something they wouldn't even offer Albert Pujols.
When the Cardinals visited Marlins Park for the opener back in 2012, several players saw the dimensions of the place and one said: "Well, we know why Pujols didn't sign here." Maybe. But that was only part of it. While the Marlins were willing to un-retire No. 5 to land Pujols, they were not willing to break from the team policy of not allowing no-trade clauses. It's a policy that obviously caught both Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes after the free-spending days by the Marlins. And it was a policy they wouldn't bend for Pujols.
Hill allowed this week that they may for Stanton. (See this story from Yahoo! Sports Tim Brown.)
The no-trade clause is something elite players receive, and it may be necessary to keep him.
The calls aren't coming now from other teams.
That will change if an extension doesn't happen this winter.
Some other items from the ongoing general manager meetings here at the Arizona Biltmore:
• If you're keeping a list of outfielders who could be available to the Cardinals, go ahead and replace Stanton's name with this one: Jason Heyward. The Braves' new GM, John Hart, told AJC.com's David O'Brien that he didn't think an extension could be worked out with the right fielder before he hits free agency and the possibility of a move is there. ...
• CBS Sports' Jon Heyman gets ahold of the Max Scherzer binder from Scott Boras and runs down the reasons why the St. Louis native and ace pitcher Max Scherzer is the most prominent pitcher available this winter. ...
• The Cardinals met with lefty Andrew Miller's reps on Tuesday and the fit is obvious for the Cardinals. Miller will be one of the most popular free-agent relievers on the market, and Jerry Crasnick writes the lefty would like a chance to close. ...
• Walt Jocketty is going to cross paths with the Cardinals this winter as he looks for a left fielder. C. Trent Rosecrans with the Cincinnati Enquirer maps Jocketty's search.
More to come throughout the day here in Arizona.