The Yankees, who have been around for well over a century, and the Marlins, for 30 years, are not short on notable deals — even though only nine have been completed. The two East Coast franchises are not similar in many ways, being in different leagues, and one known more for its long history of success, and the other more for its teardowns (to go with a pair of championships). Many of the teams’ most impactful trades in the last 30 years are resonating in the present moment, with plenty of impact on the 2024 season and likely beyond. Let’s take a look at the history between the Fish and the Bombers.
November 20, 2017: The Yankees trade Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith to the Miami Marlins for Michael King and international bonus slot money.
This is far from the biggest blockbuster in their history, but this deal following the 2017 season is perhaps the easiest one to call a “win” for the Yankees. They sent away 26-year-old first baseman Garrett Cooper, who did a nice enough job in ‘17 in his first taste of the big leagues. He was no slouch, but also far from a star. He managed a 110 OPS+ during his time in Miami, including a career-best year in the shortened 2020 when the Marlins made the postseason. He also made the All-Star team in 2022 and was eventually traded away at last year’s deadline. Caleb Smith yielded largely disappointing results in his three seasons with Miami, before being dealt away in the Starling Marte trade in 2020.
At this point, the Yankees’ return, Michael King, is the obvious headliner of the deal. He was excellent in his time with the Yankees, particularly in 2022 and ‘23.
During those years, King posted a 2.60 ERA and 2.84 FIP in 155.2 innings, while striking out over 30 percent of opposing batters. Most recently, he was also sent as the headliner to San Diego, in the trade that brought in Juan Soto. On the field and in later trades, getting King from Miami was a tremendous deal for the Yanks.
February 1, 1999: The Yankees trade Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Todd Noel, Mark Johnson, and Ed Yarnall.
It’s harsh to evaluate deals with full hindsight, but it’s fair to say this one didn’t work out for the Yankees. Following Scott Brosius’ breakout during their historic 1998 season, the Bombers sent 24-year-old Mike Lowell down south in exchange for a trio of pitching prospects. Noel would never reach the majors, while Johnson would not do so with the Yankees, and Yarnell would pitch 20 unceremonious innings for the Yanks in ‘99 and 2000.
Lowell turned into an excellent big league player. With the Marlins, he played seven seasons, averaging 20 homers per year with a 108 wRC+. He went to three All-Star games representing Florida, and won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Fittingly, he also helped the Marlins beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series. He would eventually be traded to the Red Sox, where he enjoyed five more solid seasons, and picked up another All-Star selection and a World Series MVP award in 2007. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Yanks missed out on a good one.
In 2016, GM Brian Cashman called this the worst trade he’s ever made.
Most Overlooked Trade
December 19, 2014: The Yankees trade David Phelps, Martín Prado, and cash to the Miami Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo Germán, and Garrett Jones.
Former Braves and Diamondbacks infielder Martín Prado only played 37 games for the Yankees, but they were some of his best. The Yanks flipped him that following offseason, for a pair of pitchers and Garrett Jones. Prado played two more full seasons in 2015-16, where he put up a 108 wRC+ and 6.3 fWAR, and played in parts of the next three seasons in Miami with production far below his standards before retiring after the 2019 season. Phelps began his Marlins tenure as a starter to mixed results in 2015, but had an excellent year as a reliever the following season, and would be traded in the middle of the 2017 season.
In return, the Yankees didn’t get much from the slugger Jones, who only appeared in 57 sub-par games for them. But, both pitchers panned out fairly well in the end. Eovaldi started 48 games for the Yankees between 2015 and ‘16, with a 4.45 ERA, highlighted by his 2015 season where he went 14-3 with a 3.42 FIP. He would of course go on to even greater success with the Red Sox and now the Rangers. Germán would stick around longer than Eovaldi, but with mixed results. In 2019, he had a 110 ERA+ over 143 innings, and was an important part of the rotation for much of 2023, a season that included his perfect game. He has roughly been a league-average run-preventer, but has played an important role often filling in the back of the rotation.
December 11, 2017: The Miami Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees for Starlin Castro, José Devers, and Jorge Guzmán.
This may not be the right spot for the megadeal, but it’s weird in the sense that I didn’t know quite what to call it. Castro, who the Yankees sent away, was coming off of an All-Star season. It was one of the best of his years, and he was the best player sent to Miami in the deal. He would play two solid seasons there, and two more with the Nationals before ending his career in a pretty unfortunate manner. Devers only had a cup of tea with the Fish in 2021, and Guzmán pitched in just 2.2 innings between 2020-21 for Miami.
The Yankees, of course, received reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton. He was coming off a season with 59 homers en route to the hardware, and the excitement of pairing him with Aaron Judge was unavoidable. But Stanton was also 28 and had 10 more years on his big contract, which the Marlins only kicked in $30 million to contribute. His first season in pinstripes was a good one, when he posted 38 bombs, a 128 wRC+, and 4.2 fWAR.
Injuries began to take their toll after his debut, though, and Big G played just 41 games in total over the next two seasons, albeit with one directly affected by the pandemic. He would rebound decently for the 2021 and ‘22 campaigns, blasting a characteristic 66 homers in that span and he was a menace in October, but now appears to have lost a step. That step became glaring this past season, where he had a career-worst 89 wRC+ in 101 games, with a strikeout rate near 30 percent, and a depleted walk rate. Stanton could have another rebound in him, or, he could be past the point of no return with four more years left on his deal.