Brian Cashman is not messing around. The New York Yankees‘ general manager, having wheeled and dealt his way to genius status over the last year and a half, made the holidays come early for Yankee fans on Saturday morning. As the baseball world awoke, stretched its legs and opened up Twitter, all chaos broke lose, the result of Cashman’s latest heist.
Giancarlo Stanton — the 6-foot-6, 245-pound, homer-crushing beast and reigning NL MVP — will soon be a member of the Yankees. It’s absurd, a player of his caliber joining a team that was one game from the World Series, a lineup that already features fellow giant Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and a handful of other stars. But this is Cashman’s world.
The rest of baseball is just living in it.
The Yankees were able to swing a deal with franchise icon-turned-Miami owner Derek Jeter, acquiring Stanton for second baseman Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees will also get $30 million from the Fish if Stanton does not opt out of his contract after the 2020 season, per Sherman. As if the deal, which is still pending a physical, was not sweet enough for Cashman, he managed to keep New York under the luxury tax threshold.
The deal is a clear sign that Jeter and his comrads were far more concerned with shedding salary than adding top prospects as the Marlins try to become profitable. The agreement follows Stanton’s strategic flexing of his no-trade clause. He turned down agreed-upon trades with the Cardinals and Giants. Reportedly only interested in the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros and Yankees, Stanton put the pressure on the Marlins, an organization under new management desperate to part with the slugger’s exorbitant contract.
Now the Yankees, who led Major League Baseball with 241 dingers in 2017, are adding the most terrifying home run hitter in the game. With a young nucleus that overachieved so greatly last season, expectations had already never been higher in New York entering 2018. Now that Stanton is on board, those expectations are through the roof.
It’s a cliche at this point, how the Yankees expect to win a World Series every season. That’s not realistic and there are years when that won’t happen from the get-go, no matter what Cashman and New York’s brass are touting. The 2018 season will not be one of those years.
The Yankees, having developed a star-studded nucleus, are once again the Evil Empire after acquiring Stanton. Nothing short of a World Series will be acceptable, an expectation that will extend beyond the organization.
After coming so close to the Fall Classic a year ago, anything other than winning it all would be deemed a failure after this move.
In addition to sky-high aspirations, this trade paves the way for Gleyber Torres, New York’s No. 1 prospect, to start the season in the major leagues. With Castro gone, it is likely the farmhand will become New York’s everyday second baseman. He could also play third, but then there’s Chase Headley and fellow prospect Miguel Andujar.
The Yankees will have to figure out how to work their outfield-DH rotation. With Stanton, Judge, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks, things are a bit crowded. Stanton will play a lot less in the field than he’s used to, but they’ll all get their fair share of half-days. One of New York’s top priorities will be to figure out what to do with Ellsbury and his immovable contract.
The abundance of outfielders also includes Clint Frazier, who impressed during his time in the majors last year. He gives the Yankees an expendable piece that can be used to acquire young, controllable pitching.
Stanton’s arrival in the Bronx gives the Yankees one of the most formidable lineups ever put together. It’s like an Avengers version of guys who crush baseballs for a living, an easy pick for the most-used team in MLB The Show. Surely, Aaron Boone’s job just got a bit easier as a first-time manager — once he figures out how to align all the pieces.
It also means that the Yankees, the franchise that mixed homegrown development with pricey acquisitions during their dynasty years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, expect to be back on top. Stanton will don pinstripes for years, but Cashman and company won’t tolerate a grace period in 2018.
It’s truly back to World Series or bust for New York, just like it used to be.
By Gary Phillips