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Giancarlo Stanton traded to Yankees

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Giancarlo Stanton traded to Yankees (AP file photo)

Reigning NL MVP sent to New York for Castro, prospects

The New York Yankees have added a big bat to the middle of their lineup – and it all it cost them was a whole lot of money.

That’s not an entirely accurate synopsis of the trade that sent reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins to the Bronx – the Marlins received second baseman Starlin Castro and minor leaguers Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman in the deal – but it gets at the heart of why Stanton was even on the market in the first place.

Stanton signed an historic contract in 2014 – an extension worth $325 million over 13 years; the largest contract in the history of team sports – that the new ownership of the Marlins wanted off the books. However, Stanton’s no-trade clause and opt-out in 2021 made the job of moving the contract a tricky one.

Stanton shot down potential deals with the Cardinals and the Giants before allowing for the deal with the Yankees to go through. New York proved willing to pick up almost all of the money remaining on the extension – they’re on the hook for $265 million of the $295 million owed to Stanton over the next decade.

Stanton won the NL MVP courtesy of a monster season. He led the majors with 59 home runs, the most since the juiced-up heights of the Steroid Era. He also led MLB in RBI (132) and the NL slugging percentage (.631) while scoring 123 runs. His talent has never been in question, but his health has – he has only played in as many as 120 games in four of his eight seasons. And his game isn’t the sort that will age well; sluggers of Stanton’s ilk have a tendency to see their production fall off a cliff in their mid-30s.

But there’s no question that few – if any – current big leaguers can match Stanton’s prodigious power … and the Yankees already employ one of them. Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up Aaron Judge hit plenty of dingers himself this year – 54 of them, a number that would have led MLB any other year in the past decade. That’s a titanic twosome square in the middle of the Yankees lineup.

This trade marks only the third time in MLB history that a reigning MVP was traded in the offseason. The first was all the way back in 1914, when the Philadelphia Athletics sold second baseman Eddie Collins to the White Sox for the then-massive sum of $50,000. He’d go on to play another decade-plus and build what would prove to be an all-time great Hall of Fame resume.

The second was a much more recent event – one that also involved an historic contract and the Yankees. In 2003, Alex Rodriguez had just won his first MVP when he was traded to New York in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. A-Rod would go on to finish his career in the Bronx, winning two more MVPs and hitting over 350 homers over the next dozen years.

Small sample size, to be sure, but it looks like spending a lot of cash to bring a reigning MVP to your team tends to work out pretty well.

There’s no disputing that the return Miami got for Stanton is wanting. And by “wanting,” we mean “pretty bad.” Starlin Castro is a solid MLB regular – he’ll hit .280-.300 with a little power and play a not-terrible second base – but nothing more than that (assuming he and his $10 million salary don’t get flipped). The prospects are meh; New York got Jorge Guzman in the Brian McCann trade, while Jose Devers is more notable for his family (his cousin is Red Sox infielder Rafel Devers) than his own ability.

It’s a no-brainer of a deal for the Yankees, who give up relatively little in terms of player capital. They’ve got plenty of money and no fear of the luxury tax – picking up the tab on Stanton is no problem for them, even if it does potentially complicate their competitiveness with regards to 2018’s impending free agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Sure, the back end of that deal will almost certainly lack value, but if they get even three or four years of MVP-caliber performance from Stanton, it will be worth every penny.

For the time being, the Yankees look to be the winners of the 2017-18 offseason. The Bronx Bombers have added a brand-new big-time bomber – the AL East better start thinking about building bigger walls.

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