In the end, it was all about the power. Giancarlo Stanton’s home run power. His power to steer a trade in his favor. And, ultimately, the power of the tradition-rich New York Yankees to pull off a headline deal like few teams could.
The Marlins on Saturday reached agreement with the Yankees on a trade to send their home run king to the Bronx, lifting a $295 million boulder off their shoulders as part of a major roster shakeup and franchise rebuild.
The trade is pending the completion of physicals and is expected to be formally announced Sunday.
For the Marlins, it was all about the money and shedding Stanton’s contract. For the Yankees, it was about building a juggernaut, pairing Stanton with Aaron Judge to create a one-two power punch like no other.
According to multiple reports, the Yankees are paying $265 million of the $295 million still owed Stanton over the remainder of his contract. But according to the New York Post, the Marlins must pay the Yankees the remaining $30 million only if Stanton does not opt out of his contract after the 2020 season.
In return for Stanton and that $30 million, the Marlins will receive second baseman Starlin Castro, well-regarded right-handed pitching prospect Jorge Guzman and 18-year-old middle infielder Jose Devers, who has played just one season professionally. The Marlins are expected to try to trade Castro, who is due $10 million next season and $11 million in 2019.
The pending trade, which has not been confirmed by either team, would come 10 years after the Marlins traded another of their superstars, Miguel Cabrera, and marks the first bold stroke by new owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter.
Castro could take over at second for the Marlins, who traded Dee Gordon to Seattle on Thursday. Or the Marlins could flip him in a trade to shed the $22 million remaining on his contract.
The trade was contingent on Stanton waiving his no-trade clause and approving the deal, something he refused to do when the Marlins worked out trades with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
The Marlins have been eager to trade last year’s home-run champion as a way of lowering payroll and rebuilding a franchise that has not enjoyed a winning season since 2009, the longest drought in the majors.
Stanton is owed $295 million over the next 10 seasons, with $25 million of that amount due next season.
The 28-year-old slugger is coming off a season in which he led the majors with 59 homers and 132 RBI and became the first Marlin to receive National League Most Valuable Player honors, edging out the Reds’ Joey Votto in one of the closest votes ever.
Stanton will become just the third reigning MVP ever to be traded. The Philadelphia Athletics traded Eddie Collins to the Chicago White Sox after he won the AL MVP in 1914. The Texas Ranger traded Alex Rodriguez to the New York Yankees after he received the same honor in 2003.
Among current athletes on South Florida’s four pro sports teams, only Udonis Haslem of the Heat (15 seasons), Dolphins long snapper John Denney (13) and Dolphins defensive lineman Cameron Wake (9) have been with their teams longer than the eight Stanton has spent with the Marlins.
But unlike Haslem, who was a member of three NBA title teams, Stanton hasn’t experienced even one winning season with the Marlins, whose drought of eight consecutive losing seasons is the longest in the majors. The Marlins haven’t reached the postseason since 2003.
The Marlins’ new owners are expected to slash payroll to about $90 million while rebuilding a farm system that ranks as one of the worst in the majors in terms of prospects. But Stanton had said he didn’t want to suffer through a rebuild that would likely entail more losing, and hisno-trade contractual rights gave him final say, allowing him to accept or veto any trade. Stanton and his agent met in Los Angeles last week with representatives for the Giants and Cardinals.
But using his no-trade clause, Stanton vetoed trades to both teams on Friday while the Yankees were quietly working out a deal with the Yankees, Jeter’s former team.
A Yankees lineup containing both Stanton and Judge would be daunting. The only teammates in Major League history to hit at least 50 home runs in the same season were the Yankees’ Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961.