Stanton trade would only begin Giants' work

Stanton trade would only begin Giants' work

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Imagine for a moment that the Giants obtain slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.

A short moment would likely be all the time the Giants could devote to celebrating their prize acquisition, because Stanton's arrival would prompt a fresh round of obligations to accommodate him.

First, the Giants might be forced to part with a high-salaried player or two to soften the impact of absorbing the about $300 million that Stanton is guaranteed through 2028.

Without Stanton, the Giants' payroll excesses forced them to pay the Competitive Balance Tax the past three seasons. With him, they'd surely continue making those payments, barring a major payroll adjustment.

"You'll certainly have to contemplate taking dollars off," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said at the GM Meetings on Tuesday.

Giants' trade options

But not too many. Evans admitted that the multi-year contracts of shortstop Brandon Crawford and first baseman Brandon Belt pushed the Giants past the "luxury tax" threshold. Yet, the Giants would almost surely retain Crawford, winner of the last three National League Gold Glove Awards at his position, and Belt, among the team's few power threats.

The Giants would likely try to acquire a center fielder with great range who would prevent Stanton from having to cover too much ground at AT&T Park. However, they might be able to avoid spending a small fortune on a free agent or yielding top performers in a trade to fill this need. Center fielder Steven Duggar, the club's No. 7 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, has excelled for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League and could soon arrive in San Francisco.

"In a perfect world, you'd love to not pencil him into the lineup," Evans said of Duggar. "You'd love for him to find his way up at some point during 2018."

Evans on Giants' outlook

Asked if the Giants could consider obtaining a "stopgap" center fielder -- as opposed to one such as free agent Lorenzo Cain, who would require a major financial commitment -- Evans answered affirmatively.

"There are a lot of advantages to the fact that Duggar's so close," Evans said. "It does give us flexibility to perhaps think more short-term."

Top Prospects: Duggar, SF

However, the Giants' array of Minor League prospects is perceived as ordinary by other teams, which have muted trade talks.

"The sense I get on our prospects is there are a lot of very good, solid prospects," Evans said, "but not many prospects that are viewed as top-100 guys. That can have some impact on your trade options."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

AJ Cassavell is in his seventh season as a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ajcassavell.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.