The Giancarlo Stanton Sweepstakes have come to an end, and it’s time to pick through the winners and losers of the fallout.
After weeks (really, months) of speculation, the Miami Marlins have traded Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees. It took all of 24 hours after being named as one of the four teams that the 2017 NL MVP would accept a trade to for Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office to scrounge up $265 million to pay Stanton. The new ownership group in Miami gets their first big “win” in stripping salary all the way down to bare bones, and the Yankees get the most prolific home-run hitter in the league.
With his full no-trade clause, Stanton’s time on the trade block amounted to a de facto free agency. He controlled where he went, and although it was his first preference to go home to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees are a fine second choice. Stanton has to be licking his chops over the idea of hitting in one of the most homer-friendly stadiums and divisions in the league. Sixty home runs is a very real possibility for him, especially with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez providing protection. Stanton is clearly the biggest winner here.
Picking through the other winners and losers is also an interesting exercise. The Yankees are an obvious winner because they add Stanton to arguably the best lineup in the league. They came within a game of the World Series last year without him. With Judge, Sanchez and the rest of their young core a year older, the Yankees are even more dangerous — and they pulled this trade off without taking a devastating financial hit that will prevent them from being players in next year’s epic class of free agents. It also couldn’t possibly get better for new manager Aaron Boone, who could turn himself into the next Joe Torre in the Bronx.
The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were also aggressively pursuing Stanton, but he was unwilling to waive his no-trade clause to go to either city. It’s hard to label the Giants an outright loser in the sweepstakes because Stanton alone is not enough to push them back to the World Series after their worst season in decades. The Cardinals are a different case, and we will touch on them later.
The most difficult team to process as the dust settles is the Dodgers. Stanton wanted to play for them, and they are coming off a loss in Game 7 of the World Series. Ultimately, the cost was too prohibitive as the Dodgers try and get below the luxury-tax threshold. They lose out on Stanton for now, but he didn’t go to a rival in the National League and can always opt out of his contract and go to the West Coast in a few years when the Dodgers have more financial flexibility. The Dodgers aren’t winners here, but they’re not losers, either.
This was one of the most interesting trade scenarios in recent MLB history, and there is plenty to digest. Let’s break down the three big winners of the Stanton fallout and then move on to the three biggest losers.
3. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado
The Yankees have taken on $265 million of the remaining $295 million on Giancarlo Stanton’s contract, but the hit to their payroll is actually quite manageable. Accounting for the $24 million owed to Starlin Castro that the Marlins are taking on, the Yankees are paying Stanton a very reasonable $243 million over the next 10 years, potentially less if he opts out. That is well below market rate for a player coming off a 59-homer season.
This bodes well for two key free agents who hit the market after the 2018 season, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Both could be looking for 10 year deals approaching $400 million. The addition of Stanton to the Yankees lineup will not prevent them from pursuing Harper and Machado. The Yankees have slowly been shedding the bad contracts signed during the tail end of their spendthrift days, and even more money becomes available after this season when Chase Headley and Brett Gardner come off the books.
Harper and Machado might not end up signing with the Yankees, but the fact that they are not ruled out by acquiring Stanton helps both players. Keeping the Yankees as a potential suitor will only serve to drive up their bargaining power and final price.