LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.—The Yankees have a long history of acquiring superstars in blockbuster trades.
They formally introduced their latest such addition on Monday afternoon.
Reigning National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton officially became a Yankee and donned the pinstripes for the first time at the Winter Meetings. He joins the likes of Roger Maris, Rickey Henderson and Alex Rodriguez as headline December trade acquisitions in franchise history.
“He’s a very special player,” managing partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “So when (general manager Brian Cashman) came to me and told me that there was at least a possibility, we were all over it.”
The cost was relatively light in terms of prospects but hefty in terms of payroll. The Yankees will pay $265 million of the remaining $295 million on Stanton’s contract, part of the reason they were able to keep their top-tier prospects in the deal.
Jorge Guzman, the Yankees No. 7 prospect, is the top prospect the Yankees parted with, along with All-Star second baseman Starlin Castro and minor league infielder Jose Devers. Righthander Chance Adams, lefthander Justus Sheffield and outfielder Estevan Florial, three of the Yankees top five prospects, were reportedly discussed, but the Yankees made sure to hold on to them.
“This type of deal makes sense because obviously it was a circumstance where we spoke about the, hold on to the guys that are knocking on the doors that have a chance to contribute,” Cashman said. “We still gave up talent. I appreciate everything Starlin Castro did for us. He was a great pickup for us….So they have got a plug-and-play everyday, young and controllable infielder. Then the arm we gave up in Guzman, high octane…. His name was being asked about at the deadline last year, to this winter. So he’s been, he’s a very highly sought-after player.”
Cashman, the Baseball America 2017 Major League Executive of the Year, referenced last winter’s massive trade and the prospect cost—the Red Sox’s acquisition of Chris Sale—in comparing the price they gave up for Stanton.
“The price tag (for Sale) would have been significant for us to do,” Cashman said. “So a number of the guys that played a huge roles in getting Cy Young votes for us this year or hitting in the middle of our lineup, whether it was our catcher Gary Sanchez, our right-handed starter in (Luis) Severino, (Greg) Bird who was hurt, those were the names that were being thrown as multiples. So to me that type of deal made no sense.
“This type of deal makes sense because obviously it was a circumstance where we spoke about the, hold on to the guys that are knocking on the doors that have a chance to contribute.”
Stanton beamed from the podium as he was introduced. He acknowledged exercising his no-trade clause to block trades to the Cardinals and Giants before accepting the Yankees deal.
“The team, the dynamic of they strike from everywhere, and they’re well balanced, and they’re hungry,” Stanton said. “The city’s been waiting for another World Series and a playoff run, and they got close enough this year. But hopefully, with my addition, we’re going to advance and be better, a better team. We have to go out and perform, but I want to make this team better.
“The dynamic was I gave the teams I wanted (to the Marlins). New York was definitely on top of the list, and we were able to get a deal done.”
It wasn’t clear that it would get done as recently as last week. In fact, Cashman revealed at one point he thought the deal was dead and he prepared to move on.
“I felt maybe Wednesday of last week I thought it was not going to happen,” he said. “I mean, they had already cut deals, which is very public, with two other franchises, but nothing had been consummated in terms of approval. So I every now and then just touched in with (Marlins general manager Michael Hill), and as of Wednesday I felt it was not something that was going to happen. I just said, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in Orlando. Good luck with how this process plays out.’ And then he reengaged me Thursday, I believe it was, and then we had a deal like we were going back and forth up through Thursday night and cut a deal late, late Thursday night.”
And so ended the Stanton era with the Marlins. A second-round pick in 2007, he blossomed into the face of the franchise, a four-time All-Star and their first MVP award winner.
But the ending was sour, which Stanton made no attempt to hide. After suffering a losing record every season of his eight-year career, he was done.
“We (team president Derek Jeter and I) had a meeting, yes,” Stanton said. “We spoke about the direction of the team. I wanted us to go forward and advance with the pitching staff. I thought our lineup was legit and we needed help with our pitchers, and we needed to add rather than subtract. The way they wanted to go was to subtract, so I let that be known that I didn’t want to be part of another rebuild, another losing season, and that’s almost a guaranteed losing season taking away what I thought was a great lineup. So, yes, I didn’t want to be a part of the rebuild.
“You’ve seen what’s gone on down there. What I mainly meant is just no structure, no stamp of this is how things are going to be. It’s a different direction every Spring Training. You’ve got to learn something new. Every spring a different manager, every spring, every middle of the season.”
Stanton has never played in a playoff game, something he is almost assuredly set to remedy after joining a club that reached Game Seven of the American League Championship Series last year.
Just like Maris and Rodriguez before him, he’ll have every chance to be the latest December acquisition to elevate the Yankees back to a World Championship level.
“Expectations are always the same, as you know, which is to win a championship,” Steinbrenner said. “He obviously brings a whole new dimension. He’s a league MVP and a really good guy, and it’s going to be exciting. He’s going to produce some runs for us, and seeing him and (Aaron) Judge and Sanchez and Bird and Didi (Gregorius), it’s going to be exciting for our fans. They’re excited.”