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25 Smartest Moves of the Past 25 Years: The Giancarlo Stanton trade

In late 2017, the Yankees added an explosive slugger to the ‘Baby Bombers’ core: National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton.

Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Just a couple of months after completing a very successful 2017 season with the contributions of the “Baby Bombers” (they took the eventual champions, the Houston Astros, to seven games in a thrilling AL Championship Series a year after their 2016 ‘retooling’), the New York Yankees had another surprise for their fans. At that moment, the Miami Marlins’ new ownership group, led by Derek Jeter, wanted to shed some salary. A hulking outfielder was fresh off hitting an MLB-leading 59 home runs in 2017, so, in any other circumstances, he would have been the perfect asset for a rebuilding team.

However, he signed a mammoth contract after the 2014 season: a 13-year, $325 million deal that made him very hard to trade. The Yankees certainly took advantage of certain situations to land a 28-year-old slugger in his prime.

Trade details: Giancarlo Stanton to Yankees; Starlin Castro, Jorge Guzmán, and José Devers to Marlins (Miami also kicked in $30 million)

Transaction Date: December 9, 2017

Career NYY stats: 338 G, 1,450 PA, .269/.353/.510, 134 OPS+, 63 2B, 80 HR, 186 R, 221 RBI

Those who weren’t familiar with the term “leverage” definitely became acquainted to it in those December negotiations surrounding Stanton. The league knew the Marlins would trade him, and the player had a no-trade clause and only four preferred destinations: the Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and the Houston Astros.

That took several options away from the Marlins. The Yankees ended up sending infielder Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzmán and José Devers to Miami, in exchange for Stanton and $30 million — yes, the Bombers got some cash from Miami to make the finances work and reduce his luxury tax number to $22 million, fitting under the competitive balance tax (CBT) threshold.

It’s not like the Yankees gave up nothing: Castro, expendable was he was, made the All-Star team in 2017, Guzmán at the time was a top 10 prospect in their system, and while Devers wasn’t a top prospect, his glove made sure he had a chance to have a career. But getting a hitter like Stanton at that price was a no-brainer move by general manager Brian Cashman and certainly one of the smartest trades the franchise has made in recent memory.

And even though Stanton’s 2019 and 2020 seasons were extremely frustrating injury-wise, he has been incredible during his time in the Bronx. The slugger immediately responded with a 2018 season featuring 38 homers, 100 RBI, and 128 wRC+ that was viewed as somewhat disappointing for some, as incredible as that may sound in hindsight. He made an immediate impression, too, going deep in his first at-bat and twice in his first game:

Many fans started to complain after the litany of injuries that affected him in 2019 and 2020, but last year, Stanton regained the level that made him such a feared slugger with the Marlins. In 579 plate appearances, he hit .273/.354/.516 with 35 blasts, 97 RBI, and a 137 wRC+, with his fair share of great moments:

Now 32, it’s unlikely Stanton returns to being that slugger capable of hitting more than 50 home runs in a single season. The 2017 campaign will probably go down as the best of his career, as he hit .281/.376/.631 with 59 dingers, 123 runs, 132 RBI and a 158 wRC+.

However, he remains under contract for a long time, and is still a premier hitter capable of putting several more years of at least a 130 wRC+. He is a valuable part of the lineup, and even if the Yankees aren’t playing him much in the field these days to protect him from lower-body injuries, the team made the right choice in bringing him to the Bronx.