The New York Yankees have once again flexed their muscle and entered the trade market as the big game hunter. Not satisfied with one premier slugger, they added the 2017 National League MVP in Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton, 28, is coming off a monster season. He led the majors with 59 home runs and the NL with 132 runs batted in while hitting .281/.376/631. He also is heading into year four of a 13-year, $325 million deal with an opt-out after the 2020 season.
Stanton has a no-trade clause, using it to reject trade proposals from the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Marlins financial standing combined with Stanton’s no-trade left Brian Cashman in the driver’s seat during negotiations.
The end result was the Marlins acquiring All-Star second baseman Starlin Castro and the remaining two years and $22 million remaining on his contract.
Jorge Guzman, 21 years old, will be joining the Marlins organization, becoming one of their best prospects. The Yankees acquired Guzman in the trade that sent Brian McCann to the Houston Astros. A fireballer, he consistently hits 100-mph with his fastball and plays off of it with a slider and a changeup. He spent 2017 with their short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League and was ranked as their ninth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Also headed south is 18-year-old shortstop Jose Devers, who was signed as an international free agent during the 2016-2017 signing period. Devers spent the 2017 season in both the Gulf Coast and Dominican Summer Leagues. MLB Pipeline didn’t include him among the Yankees Top-30 prospects.
Of note, New York will receive $30 million if Stanton chooses to stay with the team through the full term of his contract.
2018 Roster Implications
On paper, the Bronx Bombers offense is returning to an era that resembles the iconic lineups that included Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Lou Gehrig. Stanton and his mammoth power will join a lineup that already features Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius.
The Bronx Bomber’s lineup will have no shortage of power, but it does leave a few questions to be answered.
Will they find a taker for Jacoby Ellsbury?
Signed to a seven-year, $153 million deal in 2013, this has been one of the most regrettable free agent signings in team history. Injuries and underperformance had left Ellsbury as the odd man out before the Stanton trade. Hard to see the Yankees carrying him as the fifth outfielder. A trade and ownership eating most of the remaining money (3yrs/$63.4 million, plus $5 million buyout) seems likely and will have to come with Ellsbury’s waiving of his no-trade clause.
Does Clint Frazier become trade bait?
With Judge, Stanton, Gardner and Hicks set in the outfield, it’s hard to see a path to the Bronx outside of filling in for injuries for the 2018 season. Without a trade, it appears that a season with Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre is likely for the young outfielder. It’s also, entirely possible that he could take over for Brett Gardner in 2019 after Gardner’s contract ends next season.
Frazier is also one of the team’s biggest trade chips that is close to major-league ready. Cashman could hold on and wait until a need arises, using Frazier to headline a trade for a premium talent.
Will Gleyber Torres win the second base job in Spring Training?
Last year, Judge came into spring training with a shot to win the starting right field job and the rest, of course, is history. Torres heads into 2018 in a similar position, but with a twist. He’s recovering from surgery and hasn’t played since it occurred. There’s no question that the Yankees’ top prospect will have the opportunity to earn a job, but it’s likely he joins the RailRiders in Triple-A for a few weeks to start the season.
If he performs at his pre-injury level, he will make his debut early in the 2018 season. The only question is when.
Can second base be Wade’s World?
Tyler Wade made his major-league debut last season and in very limited action, struggled with the adjustment. With 2017 behind him and a vacancy at second base, Wade figures to be in competition with Torres and Torreyes this spring.
Do the Yankees chase for an alternative at third base?
With a year left on his contract, the obvious answer would be that Chase Headley heads into the spring as the Bronx Bombers third baseman. And, that will more than likely be the case.
His production has been lackluster, but they don’t need him to be a big offensive producer. He just needs to provide solid defense and a capable bat.
It comes down to whether or not the front office believes in Headley. If not, they have a third baseman waiting in the wings with Miguel Andujar, who will likely be honing his skills with the RailRiders in Triple-A. Of course, they could deal from their deep farm system and look for an upgrade.
It’s likely they will hold onto him not only to play third, but provide insurance for Greg Bird at first.
The heavy lifting is done and all that remains is roster fine-tuning. With the prospect cupboard overflowing with talent and a strong roster, the Yankees are poised for World Series runs in the foreseeable future.