If you’ve mercifully been in a scenario where you had no phone and no internet access for the last day, it’ll be news to you that the Miami Marlins have struck a deal to send NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees for Starlin Castro and a pair of prospects who haven’t yet cleared A ball. FanRag’s Jon Heyman initially broke the news, while his New York compadre Joel Sherman later added some vital details to the inner workings of the deal.
The Yankees, as you might expect, are taking on the entirety of $200+ million owed to Stanton on the game’s current largest contract, unless the slugger chooses not to exercise his opt-out clause after 2020 - then the Yanks will get $30 million in addition from the Marlins.
If your first reaction to the trade was “nerbles, of course the biggest market with the biggest payroll splurges in history adds the biggest slugger in the game, because of course,” well, you aren’t alone. There was certainly an initial sentiment that the addition of Stanton to a Yankee lineup featuring Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and other young stars fresh off a playoff run in 2017 was the kind of Evil Empire deal that harks back to previous Yankee eras of domination. Really, that reaction isn’t wrong on paper, as the marquee team from the biggest city in the land just added a mammoth to their $200 million payroll as somewhat of a luxury, since they already sported a young core with playoff experience and ample depth at Stanton’s biggest strength - dinger power.
A sigh and a beer or two later, I think I’ve already washed away that sentiment, though.
Barely thirteen months ago, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, and did so with a young core reeking of both talent and composure. It was enough of a breakout season to prompt ESPN to put ample effort and production dollars into a piece detailing how the Cubs were the class of MLB and had the potential for baseball’s next dynasty. Dy-na-sty.
One season in the books later, and the Cubs are still a good club with a good balance sheet and the potential to add serious payroll. They also, likely, would sit below the World Champion Houston Astros, the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers, the freshened-up iteration of the Yankees, and somewhere mixed in with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland, and Washington Nationals among the best clubs in the game. That’s an envious position in which to be - especially from a Reds perspective - but it’s a far cry from a dynasty, especially given the departures of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey from their rotation to free agency.
In other words, the cyclical nature of baseball moves at a frantic pace these days, and adding Stanton to the Yankees certainly takes the cake for the moment. Even then, that move can’t exactly stand out on its own as one that looks to break that current cycle.
Adding Stanton adds an immense talent, one who clobberd 59 dingers from a swing that every bit looks the part. Kudos to the Yankees for that move, especially given how relatively little it took other than money to make the deal. But when you think purely about that money, you’re forced to acknowledge that it was money that was already earmarked by the Yankees for future incredibly talented superstar. Stanton, to be sure, fits that bit, but so do the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Josh Donaldson, each of whom will be free agents after this upcoming season and figure to cash in with mammoth deals - Harper and Machado, of course, being much younger. The Yankees have long been rumored to be positioning themselves for another major addition thanks to that pending free agent class, and it doesn’t take a ton of mental gymnastics to see that adding Stanton, who just turned 28, in a trade accomplishes much of what was similarly planned from the outset. If anything, the somewhat earlier-than-expected breakout of the 2017 Yankees core just expedited things by a calendar season.
As for the Reds, well, this is a move that will set a few trade parameters in their playbooks for market research, but isn’t one that really impacts them one way or another. In fact, you could argue that despite the richest of the rich getting even richer with this deal, it’s actually a solidly better-case scenario than what could’ve been. The Marlins reportedly had a deal in place with the Reds’ division rivals in St. Louis that would’ve added the slugger to Cincinnati’s own division, but that cratered when Stanton refused to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate the agreement. Factor that in with Shohei Ohtani spurning the division rival Cubs, among others, to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, and the National League Central just missed out on a pair of additions of top-tier talents, which could - in theory - keep the Reds’ path to a division title in coming seasons a little less impeded.
Giancarlo Stanton was never going to be a Cincinnati Red, but he was always going to be bonking dingers for some MLB club. That the Yankees landed him and formed an on-paper redux of the Bronx Bombers is frustrating to a point, but it’s not a business move that really has any ripple effect on how the Reds’ rebuild continues to marinate. And hell, if how quickly the Cubs went from an uberteam to one looking up at perhaps a half-dozen teams in the MLB pecking order, there’s a very real chance this article itself will seem hilarious some thirteen months from now, too.
Hooray for big moves, and hooray for any spotlight on the game we collectively love following. But if the Reds are going to be good at all in this particular era of their life cycle, nothing at all about Stanton to the Yankees has any real impact at all. The fact is, the massive influx of new prospects and new talent over the last three seasons has to pan out similarly to the youth movements did with Chicago, Houston, and now New York. Even then, all it’ll take is one additional season of watching that play out for more massive moves to be made in response as the perpetual baseball arms race carries onward.