Damian Dydyn runs through the different scenarios that the New York Yankees could employ to bring Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx.
The rumors will continue to swirl about Giancarlo Stanton going to Boston. Even Jimmy Kimmel got in on the action (Red Sox talk starts at 4:50). It seems like an obvious fit from 10,000 feet. When you look more closely, that idea starts to unravel quickly, however. That said, the Marlins are going to shop him and teams are going to line up to make their offers. One team not really getting much attention on this front is the New York Yankees.
Again, from afar, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be a bidder for Stanton’s services. They are hell-bent on getting under the luxury tax threshold to prep for the massive free agent class due to hit the market in the winter of 2018-2019 winter with Bryce Harper as their most obvious target.
But there isn’t any guarantee that Harper will actually hit the market next winter, or that he’d sign with the Yankees if he did. Plenty of teams will have money to spend and all of them would like slotting Harper into their lineup. Sure, the Yankees would be one of the favorites to win the bidding, but what if they could preempt that market by trading for Stanton this winter? Stanton is every bit the hitter Harper is. And he’s no slouch with the glove either, so you’re getting a very similar player (perhaps even a slightly better one) only you’d be paying about $10M less in AAV on the contract.
A lot can happen between now and next winter, but with the commonly held belief being that he’s headed for at least a 10 year $40M contract, you have to think that general manager Brian Cashman would be tempted by the 10 years and $295M left on Stanton’s contract. Yes, Stanton is an injury risk, but so is Harper averaging just 125.8 games per season over the course of the last five years, as compared to 122.6 for Stanton over the same span.
So how likely is it that the Yankees swoop in and land the game’s premier power bat to slot in next to the game’s other premier power bat, Aaron Judge? The first question we have to ask is: Can the Yankees afford Stanton’s contract while staying under the threshold? Yes, they’d no longer need to pay Harper next winter, but they may want to bid on Machado or Kershaw, who has an opt-out.
Cot’s Baseball Contracts has the Yankees at about $156M next year with the Luxury Tax Threshold increasing to $197M. Stanton’s contract has an AAV of $25M. That puts the Yankees at around $181M while still having a full rotation (Chance Adams replaces C.C. Sabathia), one of the game’s best bullpens, and no holes in the lineup to fill. Masahiro Tanaka has an opt-out, but even if he exercises it, he’s likely looking for more years, not more money, and a slight raise doesn’t change the calculus all that much.
Plus, the Yankees have a few options for shedding some payroll if they need to. Chase Headley could be traded in a salary dump with Ronald Torreyes or Miguel Andujar handling third base until Gleyber Torres is ready and. Greg Bird has solidified his claim on first base. Headley is very expendable and is being paid $13M. They could shop Brett Gardner, as well, whose salary is the same as Headley’s. With Clint Frazier ready and Aaron Hicks breaking out, there are plenty of options to fill in around Judge and Stanton in the outfield. Even if Frazier has to be part of the package heading to Miami, Stanton, Hicks, and Judge going from left to right is a terrifying outfield for the rest of the league to have to worry about.
So money isn’t really a problem. What about the cost in prospects?
The Yankees have one of the deepest and highest quality farm systems in the game. Even after graduating as much talent as they have, they are still looking at likely having at least 5 top 100 prospects. The Marlins are looking to seed their next core, so players with 6 years of control are going to be incredibly valuable to them. Derek Jeter is likely to covet names like Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, but chances are the Yankees won’t have to include both if they are taking on Stanton’s entire contract.
Building around Frazier makes more sense since you are bringing an outfielder back. After that, it’s just a matter of supplementing him with two or three prospects from the Yankees’ top 10. They can afford the cost in chips without breaking a sweat.
So dollars aren’t really a concern and neither are trade chips. The only major hurdle that exists is the possibility that Cashman likes Harper a lot more than he likes Stanton. If that’s not the case, getting out ahead of the free agent market where they would be dropping at least $400M for their new stud outfielder makes all the sense in the world. And it would be a very Brian Cashman move to swoop in against the presumed front-runner Boston Red Sox to snatch him away at the last second.
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Correction: Stanton’s AAV is $25M not $29.5M.