Giancarlo Stanton, once close to becoming a Dodger, has a chance to come home

first_imgA special photo of the Notre Dame High baseball team is hanging on a wall of Tom Dill’s office. This one was taken in Sept. 2016, right after Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident.When news of the fatal crash reached the Sherman Oaks campus, Notre Dame’s head baseball coach dressed every player in his program – freshmen to seniors, JV to varsity – in a Marlins shirt bearing Fernandez’s number 16. The players lined up in three rows of about 20 each. A photographer captured the moment from an elevated perch.Dill kept one copy of the photo for himself. He sent another to his star pupil, Giancarlo Stanton, who was mourning 3,000 miles away from home.“When a guy represents your school in good character, I thought, I want to do something right now,” Dill said. “That was a nice moment. And my guys wrote him letters, a box full of letters.” Giancarlo Stanton might never become a Dodger, the team he rooted for growing up. He almost did a decade ago and he seems to have a chance now. The Marlins are trying so aggressively to trade him, some teams received permission from Major League Baseball to meet Stanton personally to discuss a potential deal. The Dodgers were not among those teams.Still, Stanton’s connection to his home town remains strong. He lives in Southern California in the offseason. His immediate family lives in the area too. When the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were recently granted an audience with the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, the meetings were reportedly held in Los Angeles.The photograph Dill sent Stanton was not unrequited. Each of the last two years, Dill said, Stanton has supplied the Notre Dame baseball team with equipment from his sponsor, Nike.It’s no wonder that the Dodgers would be Stanton’s first (if not his only) choice to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, which guarantees a total of $325 million – the most ever for an MLB player.If he does not choose to opt out of his contract after the 2020 season, Stanton is still owed a minimum of $295 million. The Dodgers had baseball’s highest player payroll in 2017, reportedly totaling $244 million. They would have to get creative to simultaneously lower that number and absorb Stanton’s 2018 salary of $25 million. So far, the Giants and Cardinals are the only teams reported to receive permission to meet with him. The last time teams came to Southern California to visit Stanton, the field was wide open.At Notre Dame, Stanton played baseball, basketball and football. Football was his favorite. USC, then coached by Pete Carroll, actively recruited him as a cornerback. With the speed and the height of a Division I point guard, Stanton could be taken seriously in all three sports. That left him no time for the summer baseball circuit, which in turn shrouded him somewhat from major league scouts.The Marlins, led by scout Tim McDonnell, were on to Stanton early and often. The Dodgers were intrigued too. At a private workout at Dodger Stadium in 2007, a 17-year-old Stanton was already ringing balls off the deep left field bleacher seats in batting practice.Dodgers scout George Genovese wrote in his 2015 memoir that he recommended Stanton to the team’s draft director, Logan White, as a first-round pick. The Dodgers had two picks before the second round that year, 20th and 39th overall. They used the picks on pitchers Chris Withrow and James Adkins, respectively.The Marlins passed on Stanton in the first round too, instead choosing infielder Matt Dominguez from Chatsworth High. But by the time the Dodgers drafted in the second round, Stanton was gone. He went to the Marlins with the 76th pick and signed for $475,000 – $56,500 over MLB’s recommendation for the draft slot at the time.Hindsight is 20-20. White acknowledges there was an oversight, but not of Stanton’s talent.“We had to stick with slot in those days,” he said. “As it turns out the sign-ability info was wrong more than the evaluation info, because he would have signed at those picks.”History does not allow for do-overs – of the 2007 draft or of the $325 million contract that could keep Stanton tied to a new owner that would prefer to see him play elsewhere. The Marlins have reportedly agreed to the framework of trades proposed by the Giants and Cardinals already, and one could be consummated any day now.Stanton holds the leverage. He can approve or reject any trade he wishes. If he becomes a Giant, Stanton would be closer to home, though joining a hated rival would hardly be seen as a sign of loyalty to Los Angeles.“There are a lot of diehard Dodger fans who would be upset,” Dill said. “A lot of the faculty here keeps asking me (what will happen) like I know anything. I’m going to find out in the papers like everybody else.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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