Phillies mulled Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich trade

Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with Christian Yelich #21 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with Christian Yelich #21 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Phillies ‘kicked around’ this blockbuster trade idea, three years ago

The current landscape of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise would have looked significantly different, had this Ken Rosenthal-reported blockbuster trade came to fruition.

Exactly three years ago from Sunday, the baseball scribe reported that the Phillies internally “kicked around” a trade that would have them acquire then-Miami Marlins slugging outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.

As part of the trade, the Phillies would have absorbed the remainder of their two contracts that at the time valued nearly $340 million.

“When I first heard the trade concept — heard it from three different sources — I thought, ‘Whoa. Interesting,'” Rosenthal said. “It’s interesting, all right. Damn interesting.”

“And though the idea is extremely unlikely to advance — at least in its entirety — it is worthy of further discussion, simply because of the insight it provides into the two clubs involved.”

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Heading into the 2017 season, Stanton had slugged 170 doubles, 208 home runs and 540 RBI in a Marlins uniform since his 2010 debut. For Yelich, who debuted in 2013, he had collected 110 doubles, 41 home runs, and 212 RBI with the team.

Of course, neither Stanton nor Yelich were dealt to the Phillies that summer. Both the rising stars were instead traded that offseason to the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers, respectively. Stanton was named the National League MVP that year, and Yelich, just one year later.

Could the Phillies have afforded both in 2017? Probably. Their only commitment for the following season was outfielder Odubel Herrera at $3.35 million, “giving them the flexibility to acquire virtually any high-priced player they want,” Rosenthal wrote.

But, acquiring the two outfielders likely would mean the stars of the current team, such as Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, and Zack Wheeler, would not be set to don red pinstripes in less than two weeks when the 60-game sprint gets underway.

Plus, Rosenthal reported that the Phillies would still have to include prospects in the trade, in addition to absorbing the massive contracts. The team’s top prospects at the time included outfielder Mickey Moniak, RHP Sixto Sanchez, infielder Scott Kingery, shortstop J.P. Crawford, catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Adam Haseley, and RHP Franklyn Kilome. Four of those names were later dealt in trades for catcher J.T. Realmuto, infielders Jean Segura and Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Juan Nicasio and LHP James Pazos.

Yelich went on to sign a seven-year, $188.5 million contract extension with the Brewers. Stanton is owed more than $200 million by the Yankees through the 2028 season. The Phillies’ total payroll for this season alone is just shy of $180 million, according to Spotrac.

Ultimately, the Phillies had more interest in Yelich than Stanton and did not extensively pursue the dual blockbuster acquisition. The Phillies were “vocal” at the time of desire to acquire Yelich, with Rosenthal reporting they were even willing to assume “bad money” — such as reliever Junichi Tazawa’s $7 million commitment for 2018.

Rosenthal continued in his July 2017 report:

"The Marlins continue to say they will not consider moving controllable pieces such as Yelich, outfielder Marcell Ozuna and catcher J.T. Realmuto until they gain clarity on the sale of the club. Still, the majority of the team’s current baseball people want to rebuild, sources say. And the next owners, whoever they might be, might be looking at a $150 million payroll next season if they retain their current players and add the necessary rotation help.Given the team’s bleak financial position, it’s safe to assume that such an increase is not … going … to … happen.So with the Fish, it’s not a matter of “if” they begin selling off pieces, but “when.”"

Ironically, Rosenthal speculated the Phillies might not follow through with the trade, as they “might simply prefer to save the big money for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.”

The Phillies ultimately chose to spend through free agency via a 13-year, $330 million pact with Harper.

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“The Marlins are going to purge. The Phillies are going to spend,” Rosenthal continued. “And while a Stanton-Yelich package might not be realistic for either party, you can understand why creative minds would start spinning.”

“With both clubs, something has got to give.”