By: Noah Wright
Currently in the MLB, Giancarlo Stanton is one of the most prolific power hitters in the game. Last year, Stanton followed up his 59 home run, where he recorded a .350 ISO with an impressive 38 home runs season with a .243 ISO. That was between the Miami Marlins, and NY Yankees. However, what if the trade before the 207-2018 offseason did go through? What if the Pirates acquired Stanton at the 2013 July trade deadline?
Back in 2013, the Pirates were looking to make history. After 20 consecutive losing seasons spanning from 1993 to 2012, the Bucs were destined to break .500, and return to the postseason. Plus, they were on pace to do both. Entering the All-Star break, the Pirates had a 56-37 record. They were currently holding down the first Wild Card spot with the Atlanta Brave on their heels at just one game out. However, the Pirates were on the heels of division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals, as they were only one game out of leading the division.
Though the Pirates were a great team mid summer, they weren’t 100% complete. They had a few holes, namely 1B and right field. Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez made a solid platoon over at first, but it wasn’t anything special. The outfield was stacked with MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen in center field, and rising star Starling Marte in left field. Right however was a different story. Travis Snider and Jose Tabata made up a platoon in right field, which was like the platoon at first base. Solid but nothing spectacular.
So at the deadline, the Pirates were in the market for a bat and glove for right field. And Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton fit that mold perfectly. At the deadline, Stanton was batting a solid .259/.377/.496 with 13 home runs. He had plus defense, was only 24 years old, and was controlled through the 2016 season. This was all after a 2012 season where he eye popping .288/.361/.608 line in 501 PA’s. He blasted 37 home runs, and 158 wRC+.
We all know that even though the Pirates pushed hard to get Stanton, a traded never came to fruition. However, what if a trade happened where the Pirates did acquire the slugger? What would it have cost? How would this have changed baseball history? Well for one, the team likely would have had to trade one of Jameson Taillon, or Gregory Polanco. A guy like Giancarlo Stanton who’s still on his rookie Contract, and has over 2 years of control remaining is pretty valuable. Both could have been included in a trade for Stanton. Though it’s also possible former top 50 prospect Alen Hanson would have been involved instead of Polanco or Taillon. Hanson was the 40th best prospect at the time, and one of the top middle infield prospects the MLB had to offer. He had dynamic speed, fielding, and batting skill that made him a stand out.
It’s also likely that Stanton never signs that record breaking extension. True, while the Pirates were a little more willing to spend a bit more back then, they probably were not willing to give Stanton an extension as large as what he was given. Now that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have been given an extension, but if he performs like he did in 2014 and beyond, he probably would be out of the Pirates budget. After 2016, Stanton would be a free agent. It’s possible that Giancarlo becomes a Yankee a year sooner than he did in real life. However, he’d be on the open market before the free agent collapse, and not have a no trade clause like he did back in the 2017-2018 off season, meaning that every team could be in on him. We know that the Giants, and Cardinals were one of the multiple teams pursuing Stanton during that off season. Maybe he never becomes a Yankee, and ends up with the Giants since they did have a deal in place for Stanton back in 2017-2018, but he enacted his no trade clause.
So in real time, what did the Pirates do? Well they didn’t just sit back and do nothing to improve their situation like it feels like they do sometimes. At the August trade deadline, the Bucs went out and got outfielder Marlon Byrd, for 2 minor league players (neither of whom panned out), who hit an impressive .318/.357/.486 with 3 home runs in 115 PA’s. He was also a plus fielder in RF for the Bucs that year as well. While Byrd was a rental, it didn’t cost the Pirates to give up any of Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon, or Alen Hanson. Two of which are now some of the Pirates best players. Also, Byrd came up clutch for the Pirates in the playoffs that season, blasting a homerun in the 2013 Wild Card game, and finished the NLDS with a .333 BA, and .813 OPS.
A Giancarlo Stanton trade involving the Pirates acquiring the 2017 MVP today seems like a trade you could only make in MLB The Show. However back then, it wasn’t so far fetched. The Pirates were in the midst of putting together a historic run and the Marlins, well nothing really has changed there, but the Bucs could have had an amazing team for years after the trade if they did acquire Stanton. Stanton’s acquisition would have put Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte in the same outfield as Giancarlo. Along with that, we would have seen a massive power spike in Pittsburgh during his tenure as a Pirate. It’s really hard to say how much it would have impacted the future. We don’t know what the Pirates would have to give up. Sometimes, trades are really one sided. Sometimes, it takes an entire farm system to acquire a star player. However one thing is certain: many many Pirate fans, including myself, would have loved to see Giancarlo Stanton in a Pirate uniform, and it definitely would have been an interesting time if he did become a Pirate.