A modern-day Murderers’ Row in the Bronx began to take shape Saturday when the Yankees found themselves on the brink of completing a blockbuster deal and acquiring reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.
A source confirmed multiple reports of the stunning trade, one that immediately transforms the Yankees into an imposing offensive juggernaut. On Opening Day, the 6-6, 245-pound Stanton will stand alongside the 6-7, 282-pound Aaron Judge, meaning the Yankees’ starting lineup will be home to last year’s National League and American League leaders in home runs.
Stanton, 28, hit 59 home runs on the way to National League MVP honors. Judge hit 52 homers, finished runner-up in the American League MVP voting and was named Rookie of the Year.
Castro who? Fans giddy over potential deal for StantonDiehards at Roosevelt Field Mall hoping to see two Yankees favorites were not complaining when one didn’t show.
The Yankees will send second baseman Starlin Castro to the Marlins, a source confirmed. According to multiple reports, the Marlins also will acquire a pair of prospects in righthander Jorge Guzman and shortstop Jose Devers. Another person with knowledge of the talks confirmed that the Marlins will cover $30 million of what remains on Stanton’s deal over the next 10 years, which means the Yankees will take on $265 million.
That financial commitment allowed the Yankees to acquire one of baseball’s premier power hitters without trading away any of their top prospects. For the deal to be completed, Stanton must waive his no-trade clause, though he’s expected to do so. The trade will not become official until he passes a physical.
The Yankees are positioned to reprise one of the most charmed seasons in franchise history. The Yankees have not had two players hit 50 homers in a season since Roger Maris (61) and Mickey Mantle (54) did it in 1961. Now they have Judge and Stanton in the middle of their lineup. Though both play rightfield, Stanton likely will see time at designated hitter as part of a rotation.
The Yankees now must shift their attention to bolstering their starting pitching, but a star-studded lineup and deep bullpen could go a long way toward minimizing any shortcomings in the rotation.
The 2017 Yankees finished second in the major leagues with 858 runs scored, trailing only the World Series champion Astros, and clubbed 241 homers, good enough to lead the majors.
Stanton had a .281/.376/.631 slash line, 132 RBIs and 123 runs scored in a career-high 159 games, offering an imposing insight into his capabilities when he can avoid the kind of injuries that have plagued him during his career. Judge had a .284/.422/.627 slash line, 114 RBIs and 128 runs scored in 155 games.
In addition, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez slammed 33 home runs, shortstop Didi Gregorius hit 25 in a breakout season and first baseman Greg Bird continued to show power potential after returning from injury.
As recently as Thursday morning, the Yankees’ mindfulness of luxury tax considerations rendered them non-factors in the Stanton sweepstakes. The Giants and Cardinals appeared to be firmly in the driver’s seat. Each already had negotiated the framework of a deal with the Marlins.
But on Friday, both the Cardinals and Giants announced that their respective pursuits had ended. Stanton would not consent to a trade. Later, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported 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 included the Cubs and the defending world champion Astros.
The Dodgers had mulled a run for Stanton, though a deal could not be consummated without the Marlins taking on some bad contracts. By Friday night, the Yankees found themselves in full pursuit, in position to take advantage of the Marlins’ unenviable financial situation. With the franchise reportedly $400 million in debt, the Marlins, with Yankees great Derek Jeter as CEO, are desperately trying to dump payroll.
Trading Dee Gordon to the Mariners and moving Stanton quickly emerged as the first dominoes to fall in what is expected to be a fire sale for a franchise that has become synonymous with the term.
That left the Yankees in position to swoop in, with one source saying that much of the pending trade was constructed within the 24 hours preceding initial reports of a potential deal.
In recent years under general manager Brian Cashman, the Yankees have broken from form. They have acquired young talent rather than trading it away for established stars, which had been their working model for decades. They sought to transform themselves into a leaner operation payroll-wise, entrusting their fate to homegrown talents such as Judge and Sanchez rather than costly free-agent contracts that hampered their flexibility.
The Yankees spent the last several years of waiting for massive contracts to come off the books. They recently shed Alex Rod riguez’s $275-million contract and CC Sabathia’s $122-million pact. They targeted getting beneath the $197-million luxury tax payroll for 2018. But the Yankees again shifted gears when the opportunity arose. Capitalizing on the Marlins’ financial problems, they acquired Stanton and still can keep themselves from paying the luxury tax.
Once official, the Yankees’ trade for Stanton will have consequences throughout baseball.
The Marlins are expected to entertain flipping Castro and putting outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich on the block.
The defending AL East champion Red Sox now face a more difficult road, with the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays now forced to evaluate how they will approach their offseason.
With Mike Rose
Roger Maris & Mickey Mantle
115 HRs for 1961 Yankees: Maris 61, Mantle 54
79 HRS for the 1960 Yankees: Mantle 40, Maris 39
Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig
107 HRs for 1927 Yankees: Ruth 60, Gehrig 47
96 HRs for 1931 Yankees: Ruth 46, Gehrig 46
Alex Rodriguez & Rafael Palmeiro
100 HRs for 2002 Rangers: A-Rod 57, Palmeiro 43
99 HRs for 2001 Rangers: A-Rod 52, Palmeiro 47
Ken Griffey Jr. & A-Rod
98 HRS for the 1998 Mariners: Griffey 56, A-Rod 42
90 HRs for the 1999 Mariners: Griffey 48, A-Rod 42
Griffey & Jay Buhner
96 HRS for the 1997 Mariners: Griffey 56, Buhner 40
93 HRS for the 1996 Mariners: Griffey 49, Buhner 44
David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez
92 HRs for the 2005 Red Sox: Ortiz 47, Ramirez 45
89 HRs for the 2006 Red Sox: Ortiz 54, Ramirez 35
Willie Mays & Willie McCovey
91 HRs for the 1965 Giants: Mays 52, McCovey 39
82 HRs for the 1963 Giants: McCovey 44, Mays 38
Willie Mays & Orlando Cepeda
86 HRS for the 1961 Giants: Cepeda 46, Mays 40
84 HRS for the 1962 Giants: Mays 49, Cepeda 35