Giancarlo Stanton has caught 1,994 fly balls and line drives for the Marlins. The next one he grabs could well come in a different uniform, but in order for that to happen, Derek Jeter's management team must show it can execute a monster move while following a twisting route to the catch.
Trading Stanton would not be the proverbial can of corn that you'd expect it to be. Not only does he have a full no-trade clause that grants him a seat at the trade table, but the deal comes with unprecedented financial considerations.
Discussions on a trade are certain to be both stressful and complicated, with interested teams possibly seeking to get Miami to lessen the risk by paying part of the $295 million owed to Stanton over the next 10 seasons or assuming a onerous contract or two in the deal.
Had the 28-year-old right fielder not just turned in one of the greatest individual performance in the past 20 years, he may well find himself an immovable object.
But Stanton hit 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs for the 77-85 Marlins while also being a standout defender (+10 Defensive Runs Saved, behind only Mookie Betts, Jason Heyward and Yasiel Puig among MLB right fielders). Stanton ranked alongside Joey Votto, Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge and Anthony Rendon among the leaders in offensive WAR, and he played 150-plus games for only the second time in his eight big league seasons.
The new Bruce Sherman/Jeter ownership group could be looking to cut payroll significantly, according to multiple reports over the past two months. A Stanton trade yielding both a package of prospects or young Major Leaguers and financial flexibility would be a big move toward a systematic overhaul.
Unless Jeter or someone else in authority says Stanton is staying put, he'll be one of the biggest names on the market this offseason.
It won't be an easy trick to deal a player earning an average of $29.5 million per year over 10 seasons, including three after he's turned 35. But history shows it can be done.
Six players with more than $100 million left on contracts have been traded, including five dealt between February 2004 and July 2015. The first of those deals was Alex Rodriguez moving from the Rangers to the Yankees; the most recent Troy Tulowitzki being acquired by a 50-50 Blue Jays team in July 2015.
Prince Fielder was traded by the Tigers to the Rangers after the 2013 season; Matt Kemp by the Dodgers to the Padres after '14. But the megadeal that seems the most likely parallel for a possible Stanton trade was one that included two players with nine-figure contracts.
This was a nine-player blockbuster between the post-Theo Epstein Red Sox, who were still reeling from their September collapse the season before, and the Dodgers. The sheer audacity of that deal remains just as impressive now five years later, after the Red Sox won one World Series and the Dodgers just missed winning one.
It's worth taking a look back at it, and also the Rodriguez/Yankees deal, to get a feel at the forces that could drive a Stanton trade.
After winning their second World Series in four seasons in 2007, the Red Sox had allowed their payroll to grow from about $143 million in '07 to $175 million at the start of '12. Their collapse in '11 had triggered the tumult that saw Epstein being allowed to exit for another opportunity a year before his contract ended.
John Henry's ownership group sought to allow Epstein's successors a chance at a fresh start. And the Dodgers had a new ownership group of their own, with the Guggenheim Partners/Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten group having just bought the team in May, barely three months before the trade.
The two teams were ideal trading partners, which allowed the massive deal to go down. You could also say that about the Rangers and Yankees in the offseason of 2003-04, when they completed the A-Rod trade.
Rodriguez had given Texas three strong seasons after signing a 10-year contract as a free agent. He won the American League MVP Award in 2003, his third consecutive year leading the league in home runs, but the Rangers could never get out of last place. They were ready to try to win without Rodriguez, which seems to be the conclusion the Marlins have reached on Stanton.
As audacious as it seems, Stanton (and his contract) is there for the taking for some aggressive team. Major League Baseball never lacks for aggressive teams.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.