Aaron Judge at the plate with Giancarlo Stanton in the on-deck circle? That’s a mind-boggling display of power. And now that the reigning National League MVP reportedly is willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for the Yankees, they were exploring a potential deal for Stanton as of late Friday night, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Earlier this week, it seemed as if Stanton was headed to the Giants or Cardinals after the Marlins negotiated the framework of potential trades with both clubs. But late Thursday night, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that those deals had collapsed and that Stanton was turning his attention to the Dodgers — his hometown team — and the Yankees on a new list of preferred destinations.
Sirius XM reported that list also includes the Cubs and the defending world champion Astros.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Stanton refused to waive his no-trade clause for a trade to the Cardinals or Giants. Both teams officially pulled themselves out of the running Friday.
A source confirmed that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman indeed had checked on Stanton’s availability during last month’s GM meetings in Orlando. But with Stanton still owed $295 million over the next 10 years, the Yankees are reluctant to take on such a monster contract immediately after shedding long-term extensions to Alex Rodriguez (10 years/$275 million) and CC Sabathia (five years/$122 million) as they try to get under the $197-million luxury-tax threshold for 2018.
Just two months into Derek Jeter’s tenure as CEO, the Marlins are in full fire-sale mode, though, and that desperate need to dump payroll could create a unique opportunity for the Yankees to assemble the most feared long-ball duo in the sport. Jeter’s ownership group purchased the Marlins for $1.2 billion, but the franchise reportedly is $400 million in debt, and the selloff began this week when Dee Gordon — along with the $38 million left on his contract — was shipped to the Mariners.
While the Yankees don’t have a pressing need to take on such a heavy investment in Stanton, they also won’t disregard any chance to land a slugger who drilled 59 homers last season — seven more than Judge, the American League MVP runner-up and Rookie of the Year.
The Yankees have not had two players who each hit more than 50 home runs in a season since Roger Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54) in 1961.
The Yankees were stunned when Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani dismissed them without as much as a meeting — Ohtani picked the Angels on Friday — and trading for Stanton certainly would fill the void left by that snub. The Yankees had envisioned Ohtani in a rotating DH role during some of his non-pitching days. Now Stanton could step in for some of those turns in addition to splitting outfield time.
“One thing my family has always done, when money is coming off payroll, wherever humanly possible, we’re going to put it back into the club — not into our pockets,” Hal Steinbrenner said Wednesday. “Certainly, we’ll get into the free-agent market. We will leave no stone unturned and do our best, as we always do, to make it happen.”
Steinbrenner, who made his remarks during the news conference at Yankee Stadium in which the Yankees introduced new manager Aaron Boone, wasn’t asked about Stanton because the assumption was that he already was headed elsewhere. If Stanton truly is open to playing for the Yankees, they would need to get creative to clear some payroll space for his arrival. That could mean trying to pawn off some combination of Jacoby Ellsbury, Starlin Castro and Chase Headley on the Marlins.
Ellsbury, who has lost the centerfielder’s job to Aaron Hicks, still is owed roughly $69 million through 2020. Castro is due a total of $23.7 million for the next two seasons and Headley will earn $13 million during this final year of his expiring contract.
The Yankees have top prospect Gleyber Torres in line to take over at one of the infield spots. A source indicated the Yankees would be unreceptive to dealing any of their elite youngsters if pushed to take on nearly all of Stanton’s remaining salary in a swap.
With Jeter hiring away some of the Yankees’ personnel in charge of player development, the Marlins’ new staff does have unique insight into Cashman’s deep farm system, so that could help facilitate a trade. But Stanton’s no-trade clause, combined with the Marlins’ serious financial distress, has boxed Jeter and Co. into a corner as they look to deal Miami’s biggest gate attraction.
Even as the Yankees surfaced on Stanton’s list, there is an industry-wide belief that he is trying to steer his way to the Dodgers, the franchise not far from where he grew up in Southern California.