SAN FRANCISCO - As a brutal 2017 comes to a close for the Giants, they just had one of their best days without ever taking the field.
Being granted a meeting with Giancarlo Stanton's representatives on Thursday is a clear sign that the Giants can at least see the finish line for what would be a franchise-altering move. Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans, per sources, led the contingent to Los Angeles, and the Marlins wouldn't let those two speak to Stanton's agents at the Wasserman Media Group unless they were confident that the right package is in place.
Now it's up to Stanton, who has a full no-trade clause, to make up his mind. The Giants executives were greeted with questions about a future arrangement, and while it's not known exactly what was discussed, some educated guesses can be taken.
The Giants need to convince the reigning National League MVP that he should waive his no-trade clause and maybe spend his next 10 seasons in San Francisco. How can they do it? Here are some potential questions Stanton might have, and some ways the Giants might try to swing him over to their side.
You lost 98 games last season. How can you contend? In September, Stanton told Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports that he didn't want to rebuild anymore. "I've lost for seven years," Stanton said. Heyman reported earlier Thursday that Stanton might have some concerns about the Giants' roster.
A couple of years ago, Sabean might have just pointed to the three rings on his fingers. But after a last-place season the Giants pushed a different blueprint in end-of-season meetings and press conferences. They had a clear message for fans: We can compete with a full season of Madison Bumgarner; health for Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt and Mark Melancon; a bounce back from Brandon Crawford; a few tweaks to the bullpen; and improvement defensively.
A lot of things have to go right, and Stanton couldn't be blamed for thinking this might just be a sinking ship. But if you're trying to convince a player that you have a winning core, you could do worse than bringing up names like Posey, Bumgarner and Crawford.
Is there a commitment to turning this around? This one is a no-brainer. To convince Giancarlo Stanton that you're willing to do anything to get out of this hole, all you have to do is point out that you're trying to spend nearly $300 million on Giancarlo Stanton. From an aggressiveness standpoint, the Giants can note that they've guaranteed more than $400 million in multi-year deals over the past 24 months to try and be competitive (they should not point out that much of this approach has backfired). At the very least, Stanton will never have to worry about a Marlins situation, where resources were never fully devoted to the roster.
What about the ballpark and my numbers? Free agents hitters always avoid AT&T Park, but Stanton has a .676 slugging percentage there in 27 career games and regularly takes aim at the Coke bottle during batting practice. This shouldn't be a sticking point.
What about the fact that I grew up in Dodger territory? It's believed within the industry that Stanton's first choice is to play in Los Angeles. He went to high school minutes from Dodger Stadium and the 818 area code is in his Twitter handle. But if the Dodgers aren't interested - and they don't seem to be - the Giants can point out that they provide a meaningful alternative. They play nine games a year in Los Angeles (triple what the Marlins do), nine more in nearby San Diego, and spend occasional off days in both towns. Stanton would return home as a rival, but he would still be spending an extra week or so in L.A. during the season, and the flight is a short one for family members and friends.
What about my taxes? According to ESPN's Buster Olney, a move from Florida to California could cost Stanton $25 million over the next decade in state tax increases. There's no way to sugarcoat that one unless the Giants are willing to change the finances of his deal, which they really shouldn't given how massive it already is. If Stanton is willing to go to Los Angeles, there's no tax difference in ultimately accepting a deal to play in Northern California.
How can you protect me in the lineup? This would surely be important to a player who might be wary of being the next Barry Bonds, a prolific slugger who lives life in the intentional walk lane. Stanton got 419 of his 597 at-bats in the No. 2 spot last season, with Dee Gordon in front of him and Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna right behind him. The Giants don't have a Dee Gordon, or a Yelich-Ozuna combination, but they can offer Posey as lineup protection and that should be a strong selling point. If Stanton would rather become an RBI machine, he could hit behind Posey (.400 on-base percentage) and Belt (.355). It's not what he had in Miami, but as long as Posey is on the field, Stanton should be confident that he won't be on an island.