LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As they prepared to stand side by side at the T-Mobile Home Run Derby this past July, getting their swings ready to mash pitches toward oblivion at Miami's Marlins Park, Giancarlo Stanton remarked that Aaron Judge seemed to be like "the twin you've never met: everyone's comparing us to each other."
It made for fantastic theatre. No big leaguers hit the ball harder in 2017 than Stanton and Judge, and now the hulking power hitters will be part of the same lineup. The Yankees announced Monday that they have acquired the National League MVP Award winner from the Marlins.
Second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects will head to the Marlins from the Yankees. The prospects involved in the deal are right-hander Jorge Guzman and shortstop Jose Devers, the 18-year-old cousin of Red Sox phenom Rafael Devers. Guzman is ranked as the No. 9 prospect in New York's system, according to MLBPipeline.com; Devers is unranked. The 27-year-old Castro, who was an AL All-Star this past season, has two years and approximately $23.7 million remaining on his contract.
Stanton's contract has an average annual value of $25 million, while Castro's is $7.57 million, so the Yankees' increase in payroll for luxury-tax purposes is expected to be no more than $17.43 million. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner's stated plan is to reduce payroll below $197 million in 2018 and reset the team's luxury tax penalty rate.
According to a Jon Paul Morosi source, the Yankees could get $30 million in relief from the Marlins, but not for the first three seasons and only if Stanton does not opt out of the contract after the 2020 season, news first reported by Joel Sherman.
Because Stanton's salary is increasing to $25 million in 2018 and $295 million remains on the final 10 years of his contract, the Yankees felt urgency to off-load at least one higher-priced position player -- Castro, in this case. The Yanks currently have approximately $107 million committed to seven players on their roster, with eight more players still eligible for arbitration.
"If there's one thing my family has proven throughout the years, it's that any time we have money coming off the payroll, whenever humanly possible we're going to put it back into the club, not back into our pockets," Steinbrenner said on Wednesday.
The Cardinals and Giants had separate trade agreements in place to acquire Stanton on Friday, but both clubs sent out afternoon statements declaring that they were no longer in the mix for the four-time NL All-Star after Stanton declined to waive his no-trade clause to St. Louis and San Francisco.
One of the most popular and productive players in Marlins history, Stanton told the team that he would approve a trade to the Yankees, Astros, Cubs and Dodgers. Stanton grew up in California rooting for the Dodgers, and while Los Angeles has pursued the 28-year-old outfielder, the Yankees' discussions were believed to be more advanced.
Adding Stanton to a lineup that includes Judge, the American League's unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year, as well as slugging catcher Gary Sanchez should serve as a terrific welcome gift for Aaron Boone, who was officially introduced as the team's new manager on Wednesday.
Judge, Sanchez, Stanton and shortstop Didi Gregorius combined for 169 home runs last season, more than four Major League teams: the Red Sox (168), Braves (165), Pirates (151) and Giants (128).
According to Statcast™, Stanton and Judge have combined for 31 home runs of 115-plus mph since the start of the 2015 season, while the rest of the players in Majors have tallied 26. Only once in MLB history have teammates hit 50-plus home runs in the same season: Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961.
Stanton would become the first reigning MVP since Alex Rodriguez to be traded before the following season. After A-Rod was MVP with the Rangers in 2003, he was dealt to the Yankees prior to the 2004 season.
Stanton is coming off a campaign in which he set Marlins franchise records for home runs (59) and RBIs (132), leading the Majors in both categories. He paced the NL in slugging percentage (.631) for the third time, but 2017 marked his first year with more than 37 homers, as injuries have often kept him from completing full seasons.
With Derek Jeter serving as the Marlins' chief operating officer and part owner, Miami suddenly has a deep level of familiarity with the Yankees organization. Gary Denbo, the former Yankees vice president of player development, has taken on the same role with the Marlins after helping New York's ongoing youth movement of "Baby Bombers" succeed in the Majors.
The two clubs worked out a smaller trade last month that helped the Yankees add international bonus pool money for their abbreviated run at Japanese standout Shohei Ohtani, who agreed to sign with the Angels on Friday. General manager Brian Cashman had said that the Yankees' offseason priority was to add starting pitching.
The Yankees were disappointed by Ohtani's decision to shy away from the East Coast and New York's large market, but Cashman noted that in "99 percent" of circumstances, the allure of playing for the Yankees has worked in the team's favor. In Stanton's case, it certainly may have.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
A top-10 fantasy talent even before the deal, Stanton can now be selected with confidence at any point after Mike Trout gets drafted first overall next spring. The reigning NL MVP was expected to regress some after his historic power display last year, but the move to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium greatly boosts his prospects for league-leading RBI and runs totals as well as another 50-homer campaign. Stanton's presence will also be a boon for New York's dynamic offense as a whole, with Sanchez solidifying his place atop the fantasy catcher ranks and Judge becoming an even clearer top-12 overall selection. On the other side of the trade, Castro (.300 average, 16 homers in '17) should hit in the heart of Miami's order and represents a reliable contributor in standard fantasy formats.