SATURDAY, 12:35am: “Serious” talks between the Yankees and Marlins have been underway for “at least a few days,” Heyman tweets. Indeed, the presence of a more desirable potential landing spot (from Stanton’s perspective) may even have dissuaded the slugger somewhat from accepting a move to the Giants or Cardinals, Heyman suggests.
FRIDAY, 11:41pm: A deal to send Stanton to New York is “close if not done,” a source tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
10:17pm: The Dodgers are also still involved on Stanton, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets, though the Yankees are at a “more advanced stage” with their new push. Indeed, the Marlins’ discussions with other clubs are not considered serious at this point, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
Meanwhile, there are some competing forces at work between the Marlins and Yankees. The Marlins are “not remotely interested” in taking on underperforming contracts from the Yankees, Bob Nightengale of USA Today cautions (Twitter link). At the same time, Miami may be hoping to get something done before the Winter Meetings get underway next week, Heyman tweets, to make the move before teams begin committing significant cash elsewhere.
9:33pm: We have heard hints of this in recent days, and now there’s firm indication: the Yankees are “in play” for Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links).
Indeed, there’s real progress between the two organizations, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports adds (Twitter links), characterizing the talks as having “significant” levels of “momentum.” But a Marlins source tells Rosenthal that there’s no deal close at present, while acknowledging the teams are indeed “talking” about a swap.
After utilizing his blanket no-trade rights to eliminate the Giants and Cardinals from contention today, the heavily-marketed Stanton is open to new bidders. But with the two most aggressive suitors out of the picture, there’s now less clarity about who’ll drive the market for one of the game’s best players. With the Fish scrambling after their initial efforts fell flat, the Yankees feel they are in a position of strength in negotiations, Passan notes.
Reports have indicated that Stanton is amenable to waiving his no-trade protection to go to the Yankees — or, instead, to the Dodgers, Cubs, and Astros. But of these teams, only New York and Los Angeles have been firmly connected to Stanton at this point. And both are said to be uninterested in assuming the full, $295MM commitment remaining on his contract.
While it has long been reported that the Dodgers have remained lurking on the edges of the Stanton market, the Yankees’ potential interest has been murkier. That’s due in no small part to the team’s reputedly firm commitment to dip below the luxury tax line this year. Whether or not it’s possible for the team to accomplish that while adding Stanton isn’t clear, but certainly it would require significant financial maneuvering. That only adds to the intrigue of the structuring of a possible trade.
If the Yankees are to add Stanton without bearing the full brunt of his salary, that’ll mean either leaving money with the Marlins or — perhaps more likely — sending some big contracts back in the deal. The Yanks are well-equipped to manage Stanton’s long-term commitment — the team has only around $150MM total committed beyond the 2018 season — but will have to be somewhat creative to get under the $197MM luxury tax bar for the coming season, which the organization hopes to do in order to re-set its luxury tax rate (which graduates depending upon how many consecutive seasons a club exceeds it).
It’s mostly speculation at this point, but there are a few obvious possibilities. Jacoby Ellsbury is owed $67MM through 2020 and has been discussed as a possibility, but his no-trade rights seem to pose a major complication. Chase Headley ($13MM through 2018) and Starlin Castro ($22MM through 2019) are among the other fairly expensive players that might conceivably be utilized to arrange a swap. Though both are currently penciled in for significant roles, Castro has indeed been discussed by the sides, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Those players might also make greater sense for the Marlins since their salaries could be passed on in subsequent trades. Indeed, Castro and Headley are more likely to be involved as salary offsets than is Ellsbury, Heyman tweets. Aiding the Yankees’ flexibility in the infield is the fact that top prospect Gleyber Torres and other talented youngsters are nearing MLB readiness. Frankly, though, there are any number of permutations that one could imagine going back and forth between the teams, with other veterans on either side conceivably being involved to balance things out.
Of course, it’s also at least hypothetically possible that the Yankees will push back their luxury tax re-set date for another year. There’s much greater flexibility then than there is now. While the team has indicated it is fully committed to the limbo effort, its timeline for contention obviously ramped up with a strong 2017 season that included the emergence of Aaron Judge as a middle-of-the-order force. The thought of Judge, Stanton, and young catcher Gary Sanchez mashing long balls from the same lineup may just nudge the Yankees to make a bold move now rather than waiting for an exciting crop of free agents to hit the market next winter.