Giancarlo Stanton made it known to the Marlins he wanted nothing more to do with them.
Eight years of losing and a carousel of managers will do that.
Set me free, he told them.
“I let it be known I didn’t want to be part of another rebuild, another losing season,” Stanton said.
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And so the Marlins granted him his wish, trading the disenchanted slugger to the New York Yankees in a deal that was formalized on Monday in the shadows of “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
“You don’t want someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the organization,” said Derek Jeter, the Marlins’ new chief executive officer, in a conference call with reporters.
Jeter wasn’t on hand the first day of the Winter Meetings, opting to handle the explaining part of the transaction from afar while the Yankees turned the trade into a production, handing Stanton their cap and a pinstripe uniform to slip on for size.
“Today is a celebration for the New York Yankees,” said their new manager, Aaron Boone.
There was good reason to celebrate in the Bronx. Not so much in Miami.
The National League’s Most Valuable Player and home run champion swapped teams, ones headed at breakneck speed in opposite directions. While the Yankees are assembling a lineup that is the envy of baseball, the Marlins were tearing apart their roster, piece by piece in a painful rebuild.
They sent Dee Gordon packing last week. Monday it was Stanton’s turn. And more moves are likely.
“From the fans’ standpoint, I get it. They’re upset,” Jeter said. “They’re passionate. The bottom line is the fans want to see a winning product on the field. They haven’t seen a winning product on the field. So if you haven’t been winning, it’s time to make a change.”
Stanton was not up for it.
He told Marlins officials last summer, before Jeffrey Loria sold the team, that he didn’t want to be a part of another rebuild. After Jeter and Bruce Sherman took over, Stanton made his feelings known again.
“As an ownership group, when we acquired this team, our thoughts were that you were going to be with us,” Jeter said he informed Stanton. “We spoke to him about our plans going forward in the future, and he wanted to continue his career elsewhere. He said he wanted to move on.”
With a no-trade clause that allowed him to accept or veto any deal, Stanton gave the Marlins a list of teams to which he would accept a trade. But president of baseball operations Michael Hill said that in calling around, none of the teams on Stanton’s list showed any interest.
“Naturally, those were the clubs I called first,” Hill said. “But, at the beginning, there were no deals for him with those. So it was incumbent on me to test the market, to find out where he was wanted.”
The Giants and Cardinals wanted him. Each worked out the framework of a trade for Stanton and spoke with him personally.
But when the Marlins asked Stanton to accept a deal for one or the other, he refused.
“I was open to listen,” Stanton said, “but those were not my teams.”
According to Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, the Marlins then told Stanton they intended to keep him for the remaining 10 years of his contract.
Stanton never blinked. If it was a bluff to get him to accept a trade to either the Giants or Cardinals — or else — the slugger wasn’t falling for it.
That’s when the Marlins reached out to the Yankees.
“We circled back, and the Yankees deal garnered steam,” Hill said.
The two sides worked long into the night and early morning over the weekend before coming to terms on a deal, with the Yankees agreeing to pay all but $30 million of the $295 million left on Stanton’s contract while sending a pair of minor leaguers — pitcher Jorge Guzman and infielder Jose Devers — along with second baseman Starlin Castro to the Marlins.
Jeter defended a trade that netted the Marlins what most in the industry felt was an underwhelming return in prospects.
“We thought we got good prospects back in the return,” Jeter said.
Jeter said the trade gives the Marlins “financial flexibility” and helps them reload a minor-league system that ranked as one of the weakest in baseball.
“We need to have a strong organization from the bottom up,” Jeter said. “That’s what I would tell the fans — be patient. What has been in place, it’s evident it has not been working. And we need to fix that. We’re trying to fix something that’s broken. We can’t continue to dig ourselves a bigger hole.”
Jeter said the rebuild will “take patience.”
Stanton’s had run out.
Standing at the podium on Monday, outfitted in his new Yankees uniform, Stanton said he wished it could have all turned out differently.
“When I signed up in Miami, I wanted things to work out,” Stanton said. “Sometimes things just spiral out of place and you’ve got to find a new home.”
He found a new one on Monday, and he couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said.