The Yankees sent shockwaves through the baseball world during the early morning hours on Saturday. While the world slept, the Bombers landed Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins in exchange for Starlin Castro, Jorge Guzman, and Jose Devers. Tanya reported the full story earlier, but here are a few instant thoughts on the blockbuster:
The cost to obtain Stanton was a bargain
When the Marlins failed to trade Stanton to the Giants or Cardinals, they lost a lot of leverage. The remaining legs they had were subsequently kicked away when Stanton himself issued a list of teams for which he would play. The price was going to fall, but I don’t think anyone could have imagined it dropping this low.
Castro, 27, is a fine second baseman. That’s all. He’s not a must-keep talent or a game changer. He’s a fine enough player on a surprisingly pricey contract. When a team is presented the opportunity to turn an at best two-win player into a nearly seven-win superstar, they have to take that deal.
In terms of prospects, Guzman is a nice arm to have. He throws ridiculously hard and has ironed out some of his command problems. According to Baseball America, he averages 99 mph with his fastball. He’s a long ways away, but you can’t teach that velocity. The Yankees have enough pitching in their system though, so they can part with a flame-thrower like Guzman.
Devers, on the other hand, is an 18-year-old shortstop. He’s very much a glove-first prospect. He hit .245/.336/.342 with one home run over 216 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League. His bat might come around with age, but he’s not someone a team lets stand in the way for Stanton.
There’s also the fact that the Yankees got the Marlins to chip in $30 million in the trade. Stanton has a significant contract – the largest one in baseball – but the Bombers have the money. Moving Castro allows them to add Stanton and still remain on pace to clear the luxury tax threshold. This deal was just too good to pass up, and the front office took advantage.
Next season will be insane
Have you thought about the lineup for next season yet? The Yankees will head into Opening Day with Stanton sandwiched between Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez. Don’t forget about Greg Bird either. That’s one dominant middle of the order. FanGraphs compared it to Murderers’ Row and they were only half-joking.
Stanton and Judge going back-to-back would have been beyond our wildest dreams just a few days ago. Now it’s a reality. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the Bombers can produce 100 home runs between their corner outfielders alone. They have that kind of power now.
Lately the pair has draw comparisons to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, or the Bash Brothers. That’s elite company, but I’m not sold on either. I think they will do just fine establishing their own identity. Two of baseball’s biggest stars competing on the game’s grandest stage? That will play just fine. Next season is going to be incredibly fun.
Why wait for Harper and Machado?
It became fashionable over the last few years to dream on the 2018 – 2019 free agent class. There existed endless fantasies of the Bombers signing Bryce Harper. It seemed like a fait accompli. One could produce some compelling evidence, too. The Yankees would have money coming off the books, a potential luxury tax reset, and Harper would be in the prime of his career. Plus, he grew up a Yankees fan! It sounds like a perfect match, doesn’t it?
At the same time, Manny Machado is slated for free agency next offseason. Like Harper, he would be just 26 years old. He also would make for an enormous upgrade at third base. There are a lot of reasons for the Yankees to like Machado. They’ve seen enough of him firsthand.
So why not just wait for these two sluggers to hit the open market? First, they don’t help the Yankees in 2018. Stanton does. The Bombers have a wide-open window and they should capitalize on it right now, not in two years. Adding Stanton to the lineup changes the entire landscape of the American League next season.
It’s also possible that the 2018 – 2019 free agent feeding frenzy gets out of control. Bidding wars could send the price tag for Harper and Machado to exorbitant levels. Stanton might look reasonably priced compared to those two. It seems like a lot now, but the enormous outfielder – and his contract -- may be a bargain in disguise.
Lastly, there are no guarantees that Harper and Machado actually hit free agency. The Nationals successfully extended a Scott Boras client before; they have the money to do it again. The Orioles are also expected to listen on offers for Machado before he takes to the market. If another team lands him, they very well could retain him. Is it likely that they make it to free agency? Sure, but it’s not set in stone. Plus, when the reigning National League MVP falls in your lap, you take the deal.
Cashman is in a league of his own
Brian Cashman sure earned his extension, didn’t he? In a matter of 24 hours, the Yankees went from lurking on the periphery of the Stanton sweepstakes to landing the game’s premier power hitter. How about that for Ninja Cashman?
In all seriousness, the last few weeks somewhat clouded the perception of the Yankees General Manager. The Joe Girardi situation was, at best, bungled. The Aaron Boone choice? That left us wanting more. This, however, wipes it all right out. Cashman once again proved that he’s the top executive in the game.
It’s fun to think back on some of his stellar trades over the last two years. He acquired Sonny Gray in a steal; the White Sox trade paved the way to an ALCS run; the 2016 fire sale let the team take a hard reset and ignited the Baby Bomber movement. Now there’s this: Giancarlo Stanton. Put the man in the darn Hall of Fame.
With Stanton in pinstripes, the Yankees can head to the Winter Meetings without stress. The team can try to bring back CC Sabathia or just keep an eye out for potential deals. The heavy lifting is over thanks to a surprise deal. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be counting down the days until spring training.