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Giants’ decision on Stanton comes down to what kind of team they want to be



The question is simple: Should the Giants trade for Giancarlo Stanton?

The answer isn’t simple. There are persuasive arguments both ways, so much so that I find myself having cold feet at the latest MLB.com reports.

Stanton would accept a trade to the Giants! The Giants would send Joe Panik, and prospects Tyler Beede and Chris Shaw! The Giants would assume $250 million of Stanton’s contract through 2029!


A check of the contract web site, Spotrac, paints a grim financial picture for the Giants.

Contracts to Buster Posey ($22 million; well worth it); Johnny Cueto ($21 million; he needs to be better); Jeff Samardzija ($19.8 million; gosh that’s a lot for his numbers); Hunter Pence ($18.5 million; but weren’t 2012 and 2014 fun?); Brandon Belt ($17.2 million; you can get your Joey Votto impression going anytime, B); Brandon Crawford ($15.2 million; sure, we’ll take it); Mark Melancon ($13 million; ouch); Madison Bumgarner ($12 million; oh my!); Denard Span ($11 million; the less said, the better); and Matt Moore ($9 million; that actually sounds OK, believe it or not) add up to $159 million already for 2018.

Oh, don’t forget Matt Cain’s $7.5 million golden handshake. That counts, too.

So the Giants are $166 million into the 2018 payroll, with a luxury tax set at $195 million.

Add Stanton’s $25 million number for 2018 to the mix and you’re almost at the tax threshold already.

And you don’t have a second baseman. Or a viable center fielder. And a left field platoon of Span-Pence. And who at third base? The Panda?

Sure, Posey-Stanton in the 3-4 holes look real pretty on a scorecard. But who’s protecting Stanton? Belt, the would-be Votto? Crawford? The unnamed centerfielder? The Panda?

Like I said: Gulp.

OK, sure. There’s a rose-colored scenario where the Giants pitching returns to form. A scenario where Madison Bumgarner, embarrassed by his dirt bike past, makes a run at a Cy Young. Where Johnny Cueto pitches like it’s 2016. Where Matt Moore, hypnotized by new pitching coaches Curt Young and Matt Herges, unlocks his mysterious potential. Where Mark Melancon, determined to make good on his awful debut year in San Francisco, becomes one of the game’s best closers again. Where Will Smith becomes the new Jeremy Affeldt, and Sam Dyson the new Santiago Casilla.

You follow me. The Giants have, in the Bruce Bochy Era, been a pitching-first team when they are at their best. They will need to be again to regain stature in the NL West.

In this scenario, you could add Stanton and go a little into the luxury tax to patch up second base, third base and center field and grind out one of those magical just-get-me-to-October summers, then roll the Bochy dice.

But is that the scenario you want? And is that the scenario best for the team?

We, as a fan base, have to decide who we want the Giants to be. Do you want the Giants to be a top-heavy, aging payroll for the next few years, in exchange for the mighty bombs off Stanton’s bat? The already-signed contracts are yokes through 2019 and 2020, too. In a game that’s skewed younger and younger — hello, 2017 World Series — the Giants would be going the opposite direction.

Or do you want the Giants to be a team that says ‘the hell with the luxury tax’, and bring on Stanton and others and blow through the tax to compete? After all, the Dodgers will pay over $30 million in luxury tax this year, just like last year. Their deep pockets are daunting. The Yankees, for example, have paid luxury tax every year since 2002.

Should you, who pays $18.50 for a crab sandwich and $14 for a beer, be looking at the Giants, who have no more mortgage payments, and demand that the social contract calls for all-out luxury tax commitment? The agreement goes: We fill your yard with 3 million-plus, you blow past that luxury tax and bring me Stanton and Dee Gordon and Todd Frazier, too.

Or should you dial it back and be prudent? Understand that 2010 and 2012 and 2014 were incredible magic, three titles that the Dodgers and A’s and everyone else envies so mightily, and that to reconstruct that magic, a move towards youth and rebuild is the better long-term move. That the homegrown talents of Beede and Shaw and Bryan Reynolds and Steven Duggar and still-to-come Heliot Ramos and this year’s No. 2 pick in the MLB Draft will be the heroes of the 2020s?

Hard questions. Lots of gulping. With each passing day that Stanton becomes more real in our minds, the double-edged sword grows sharper and sharper.