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Yankees flex financial muscle, steal Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

By taking on a ton of his contract, the Yankees acquire the game’s marquee slugger for almost nothing.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In a franchise-altering move, the New York Yankees acquired All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins on Saturday, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported.

To acquire Stanton, the Yankees gave up just one of their Top-30 prospects, right-handed pitcher Jorge Guzman. Minor League shortstop Jose Devers also headed to the Marlins in the deal, as did Major League second baseman Starlin Castro in order to offset some of the salary.

Stanton is a huge get for the Yankees, and he didn’t cost them a lot. Let’s break this whole thing down.

The players

The most important issue in any trade is to break down the moving parts.

Stanton, of course, is the biggest cog in this deal. The 28-year-old is a four-time All-Star and is coming off the best season of his career. He slashed .281/.376/.631 in 2017, with 59 home runs and 132 runs batted in over 692 plate appearances, narrowly beating Joey Votto in the National League MVP race. His 156 wRC+ ranked fifth in the Major Leagues, and his 6.9 fWAR ranked tied for third.

Castro is the other Major Leaguer switching teams, but it remains to be seen whether he will remain with the Marlins through the rest of the offseason. While he spent part of 2017 injured, his .300/.338/.454 slash line represented his best offensive output since 2014 when he was with the Cubs. Overall, he was worth 1.9 fWAR over his 112 games played. Castro is just 27, but he is already a four-time All-Star himself and has a career 1,280 hits.

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Guzman, 22 in January, is the “headline” prospect return for the Marlins, but he is still years away from the Majors, pitching his entire 2017 season at Low Class-A Staten Island. There, his numbers were good, posting a 2.30 ERA and a 88:18 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 66 23 innings pitched, all as a starter.

Devers, 18, is the cousin of Red Sox top prospect Rafael Devers, and spent his 2017 season in Rookie-level ball. He hit .245/.336/.342 across 216 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League and the Dominican Summer League.

The contract

The two biggest concerns in this trade were the no-trade clause and the money.

On the former: Both the Giants and Cardinals announced midday Friday that Stanton had declined to waive his no-trade to come play for either of their two teams. That opened up the door for the Yankees, who were reported as one of the four teams he would approve a trade to. Considering that Stanton is already on his way to New York to take his physical, the no-trade is no longer an issue.

The no-trade, however, forced the Marlins into a very limited market that likely diminished the return they were able to get for Stanton. I advocated that this ownership group should figure out a way to keep Stanton at least until next July, when he may be more willing to be traded to more teams after seeing who is in contention. Derek Jeter and company, however, showed an urgency to deal Stanton this offseason, and his no-trade clause ultimately kept them from exploring the larger market.

Part of the reason Stanton’s suitors were so limited in the first place was his contract. Stanton still has 10 years and $295 million on his deal, and considering the Marlins wanted to shed so much of it, only teams willing to commit upward of $25 million to Stanton really could be considered. The Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, will be taking on $265 million of the remaining salary. As Rosenthal reported, though, the Marlins will only have to provide their $30 million contribution if Stanton does not opt out after the 2020 season, structuring the deal in a similar way to what I suggested in my “How to trade for Giancarlo Stanton” article from late November.

In dealing Castro, the Yankees were able to cut their payroll by a total of $22.7 million over the next two years, which will offset some of the salary coming their way. The Marlins, though, will probably look to flip Castro to avoid paying him, too. He still has a fair amount of value, and if the Marlins do not plan on contending in either 2018 or 2019, there is no incentive for them to keep him, either. I’d be willing to bet that Castro isn’t suiting up in a Marlins uniform come Opening Day, but I guess crazier things have happened, too.

Stanton, Judge and the Yankees lineup

Contract aside, though, the trade for Stanton gives the Yankees one of the scariest lineups in Major League Baseball. The team already led the league in home runs last season, with 241, and Stanton only gives them a legitimate opportunity to break the MLB record for most home runs by one team in a season. Currently, the 1997 Mariners hold that record, with 264.

Man, is this Yankees lineup scary. Not only do they have Giancarlo Stanton (the Yankee Stadium version, nonetheless) and Aaron Judge, who also hit 52 home runs last year, but Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks will also be penciled into that lineup every single day. The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series with a prolific offense, but the Yankees might just be able to top them next year. The Yankees without Stanton took the Astros to seven games in the ALCS, but this just makes them even more scary.

Shohei Ohtani who?

Jokes aside, the Yankees still need pitching. While Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and Sonny Gray will all be in the rotation come April, the final two spots seem to still be up for grabs. Jordan Montgomery, considering his pretty solid rookie year, probably will have one of those two, but they likely need to get one more starter before the offseason is up to have a complete team.

Marlins ownership and the future

The Yankees are certainly the beneficiaries of the handcuffed Marlins, who made this deal without many other options. Of course, if I were them, I would have held Stanton, hoping to convince him at a later date to try to waive the no-trade clause. But, if they really do not want to pay him next year, or even have enough money to pay him next year, then moving him now was their only option.

I’ve been saying this for weeks: I don’t know why Major League Baseball approved this sale. The Marlins, according to FanRag Sports, sent an email looking for more investors in the team, as they are allegedly $250 million short in terms of funding for their team.

Shedding payroll in order to contend for the future happens all the time, and while former owner Jeffrey Loria did leave the new ownership group a mess in Miami, there really is no excuse for what Derek Jeter is doing here. Not only do they not have enough money, Jeter has made some questionable management decisions too, including the firing of a scout who was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery.

Miami Marlins Resign Giancarlo Stanton - Press Conference Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

While I could be wrong on this, and the Marlins could be truly tearing it all down for the future, the math just does not add up. They do not have the money to run a successful baseball team, even when the time for contention comes, and unless they get investors quickly, I’m not sure that they ever will.

Marlins Park is publicly funded, and a new TV deal is expected to come with influx cash, yet the team wants to slash their payroll all the way down to $90 million, which would rank around 26th in the Major Leagues. The Reds, White Sox, Pirates, Phillies, Braves and Mariners, all non-playoff teams that can be considered to be in different stages of a “rebuild” all carried payrolls of $93 million or higher last year.

What we don’t know is: how far will the Marlins go? It was always expected that a Stanton trade would not recoup a lot of value in terms of prospects because of the enormous contract, but they now have to trade Marcell Ozuna (arbitration eligible) and Christian Yelich (signed extension), both on better deals, in order to restock their farm system.

The Marlins definitely have a plan, but is the plan to just shed payroll and live with it, or is it to contend five or six years down the road? It may be to soon in the offseason to tell, so maybe I should tone my bashing down just a tad.

The Winter Meetings

All the fallout from this trade should make for an epic Winter Meetings, which start Monday in Orlando, Florida.

Stanton and Ohtani have been holding up the market for weeks, and because both of them found their destinations within 24 hours, teams who were focused on these two players can finally divert their intentions elsewhere.

This could really open up the market for J.D. Martinez and Jay Bruce, who both could market themselves to the ex-Stanton suitor Giants and Cardinals or even Red Sox, who now may have to make a “retaliation-type” move to stay competitive in the AL East.

Alex Rodriguez comparison

There is one other interesting angle on this trade: a comparison with the Alex Rodriguez trade from 2004. I tweeted about this in late October, but it’s so much truer now that the Yankees are on the receiving end of the deal, too:

The parallels are fascinating.

The Rangers only received Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias for perhaps the best player in the Major Leagues; this is because his contract was so high, and they were unwilling to pay it. Neither Soriano nor Arias made huge impacts in Texas, and neither did the players they were ultimately trade for.

The Marlins can only hope that Guzman, Devers and any players they receive in the inevitable Castro trade pan out to be better than those in the Rodriguez-to-Yankees deal.

Bryce Harper

The last impact from Stanton-to-Yankees is that of Bryce Harper’s free agency.

Divisional Round - Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With Stanton in the fold, a one-time major Harper suitor in the Yankees is now likely erased from the field.

Nationals fans everywhere have to be celebrating, as the chances they are able to keep him past 2018 went way up today. They may still be challenged by the Cubs, but his market may be much more defined going forward.

For a while, I thought it was very probable that Harper would leave the Nationals following this season. Now, though, I’m going to say that they keep him for the long haul. That has to be music to Nationals fans ears.

Going foward

This trade is one that will change the fates of the Yankees and the Marlins for at least a decade.

It will send shockwaves around Major League Baseball.

It will impact future free agent classes.

This trade is one of the most significant deals to go down in a very, very long time. Enjoy Yankee Stadium, Giancarlo.

Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.