What We Learned From The Giancarlo Stanton Deal

What We Learned From The Giancarlo Stanton Deal
  • Scott Engel

By Chris Mitchell
Derek Jeter continues to help the New York Yankees win championships while making errors.

Jeter won multiple Gold Gloves while being one of the worst defensive shortstops in the game, while the Yankees rolled up Division Titles and World Series rings. We are seeing history repeat itself with the Giancarlo Stanton deal. We now know the players and the money heading to Miami and for the most part it is as expected; relatively underwhelming on talent and rather exorbitant on financial relief. This trade is great for the Yankees’ future and a clear sign of a dismal beginning to Jeter’s CEO tenure with the Marlins.

Major League Baseball has to be glad that Jeffrey Loria is no longer a part of their fraternity, but Rob Manfred and MLB brass can’t be happy about Marlins fans being screwed over by Derek with his slash and burn approach in the early months of his ownership. The Marlins haven’t been a playoff contender in over a decade, but they were an infusion of cash and free agent signings away from being just that. Instead, new Marlins ownership has decided to go the way of the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros rather than the way the new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers did when they bought that franchise out from previous owner Frank McCourt. The Astros have been praised for tanking and while I find it a sad turn for sports and old school competitiveness, it was rewarded. But it’s bungling a routine groundball for new owners and a frustrated fan base that has become conditioned to expect the rug being pulled out from under them.

In 2017, the Marlins finished second in the National League East and won 77 games without Jose Fernandez or a pitcher that would qualify as even a number three caliber starter. They had a core of young, controllable talent that most organizations would salivate over. Players like Marcell Ozuna (Free Agent after 2020), Christian Yelich (Free Agent in 2022), Dee Gordon (Free Agent after 2020 or 2021 that has since been traded in the fire sale), Giancarlo Stanton (Opt out in three years – Free Agent after 2027 or 2028), and J.T. Realmuto (Free Agent after 2021). Fans were finally rid of Loria. He repeatedly head-faked fans into thinking he was committed to winning only to cut bait and run. Now, after Marlins fans’ Christmas wishes were granted (Loria gone) after they gasped in awe that “Capain Jetes”, was taking over, they had hopes of an ownership group committed to winning. Instead, they got a fire sale. Their team is being gutted as if they were placed in receivership and assets auctioned off in bankruptcy proceedings. Jeter won four World Series as a Yankee and he may have won his hallowed Yankees as many as four more with this trade. Congratulations Yankees. E6 on Derek Jeter the CEO.

Bryce Harper Won’t Be Signing in New York
The Stanton trade won’t prevent Bryce Harper from signing with the New York Mets (pause for laughter at even the thought of such a development ever happening), but it certainly suggests that he won’t be wearing the same uniform as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. In the outfield, Aaron Judge is under team control through 2022, while Giancarlo Stanton could be paid by the Yankees upwards of $260 million through the 2027 or 2028 seasons. The Yankees have shown throughout their history that even when they intend to tighten their financial belts, if the whim strikes, they are willing to splurge, so the thought of adding Stanton while also signing Bryce Harper isn’t out of the question. But, with the Stanton trade along with financial increases for arbitration eligible young players and the need to add starting pitching, it’s looking less and less like there is enough stitching to clothe Harper in pinstripes. If they are willing to sign another superstar player at obnoxious financial numbers they will be better suited adding a third baseman like Manny Machado at cheaper dollars than overload an already crowded outfield that has more talent coming up through the minor league system.

Rafael Palmeiro Isn’t Making His Comeback in the Bronx

I realize that Palmeiro can play first base or designated hitter, that he has been a beloved teammate wherever he has gone and that any beer league softball team would be lucky to have his services, but now that Stanton has crowded the Yankees outfield and stretched their budget, their just isn’t room in New York for Palmeiro. The Yankees were likely the favorites to land him regardless of how enormously expensive the financial commitment (especially the prescription drug costs for all those pills, creams, powders, and syringes for injections) was going to be. Sometimes fiscal discipline has to be enforced and even the Yankees don’t have an unlimited operating budget.

No-Trade Clauses Need to be Abolished

Let me start by saying that there is nothing “technically wrong” with having no-trade clauses. In a somewhat free market system a player is allowed to negotiate for anything they so desire and if they can negotiate a no-trade clause then all the power to them. If it’s on the table in a free world economy then scrounge down and get it if you can, but it’s bad for baseball. The hope that the clause is never used and the lack of a present day price tag makes it an easy decision for an organization to make today, but when the marriage goes sour it becomes an extremely costly regret. Giving out a no-trade clause to superstars is like making private jets tax deductible. It’s unnecessary and does nothing but enrich the haves with potential to hurt the rest of us in the future.

Does anyone think the Marlins got the best return they could from the Yankees after it was reported that Stanton refused trades to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants? To add insult to injury, not only did the Yankees know Stanton wouldn’t accept trades to those two organizations, he also had a limited group (Yankees, Dodgers, Astros and Cubs) of teams that he WOULD agree to waive his no-trade clause for. Stanton negotiating this windfall of a concession allowed him to determine his future destination to the detriment of Marlins fans, who will be paid less for their asset than the “free market” would have normally returned. He also short-changed every baseball fan in all of the markets that weren’t allowed to even attempt to acquire him.

The Marlins made it clear from day one that this was a salary dump, so limited the potential organizations that could make a serious run at Stanton. But, imagine if the Marlins weren’t trading Stanton to save dollars, but to rebuild for a brighter future? One of the reasons baseball is so well balanced today in comparison to the early 90s is that the difference between contending and not is more and more contingent on drafting and developing talent rather than buying and selling free agents. Imagine a scenario where the Atlanta Braves entered the fray and offered Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies or Dansby Swanson or one of the plethora of young arms in their loaded minor league system for Stanton. Underdog organizations in today’s baseball world have shown that they can overcome financial limitations if they draft and develop as well as manage their budgets.

Teams can be competitive if they do things “the right way.” No-trade clauses throw a wrench into that approach. Marlins ownership negotiated away the chance for the rest of the league to benefit from successful management by giving Stanton his no-trade clause. Let’s be clear, Stanton did nothing wrong and we probably wouldn’t be operating in a truly “free market” environment if no-trade clauses were disallowed, but who are we kidding here? Does anyone believe baseball has an open and free market when it comes to player and team negotiations? The amateur draft and its slotting system. The farce that is the international signing guidelines, even with the improvements being made. No-trade clauses negatively impact the majority, including the fans, and enriches the very few by providing unnecessary leverage to players already obtaining immense riches. Riches that they have absolutely earned, but baseball fans would all be better off if this one windfall was banned from the game.