From a Yankees’ point of view, it’s great that Giancarlo Stanton put them on his short list of teams for whom he’ll waive his no-trade clause. But as enticing as the thought of him hitting in the same lineup with Aaron Judge may be, the size of his contract makes it highly improbable he’ll be coming to the Bronx.
But only if the Marlins are willing to take Jacoby Ellsbury’s albatross contract back in a trade, which would make it feasible for the Yankees to add Stanton and still meet their objective of getting their payroll under the $ 197 million luxury-tax threshold.
Problem is, Ellsbury is due to earn $ 63 million over three more seasons, which is why on Friday it was hard to find a baseball executive who could envision any such scenario.
“That might help them long-term, but they’re looking for instant salary relief,” was the way one rival exec put it, speaking of the Marlins. “So it really wouldn’t help them at all.”
That’s the problem. The new owners, featuring Derek Jeter, have let it be known they need to lower the payroll dramatically – which makes it fair to ask why MLB granted them the franchise, but that’s quite another story.
In any case, the issue isn’t so much that Stanton’s contract has 10 years remaining, but that at $ 295 million, it costs the Marlins nearly $ 30 million a year.
Giancarlo Stanton is dictating where he’s willing to be traded, including the Yankees, but they can’t afford his massive contract.
And while the Yankees can afford anything they want, as they’ve proven over the years, the math doesn’t work if they’re going to get under that luxury-tax threshold.
Nevertheless, the intrigue in this saga is growing as Stanton is flexing his leverage, telling the Marlins he’ll only waive his no-trade clause to go to the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, or Astros – none of whom appear to be making a serious bid for him.
In doing so he is refusing to go to either the Giants or Cardinals, the two teams that had worked out parameters of a trade with the Marlins, and on Friday both of those teams reacted to Stanton’s power play by essentially saying they were no longer interested.
No doubt that interest could be rekindled quickly, but for now this appears to be something of a staredown:
Is Stanton really be willing to play another season in Miami if Jeter & Co. have stripped the team bare around him, starting with Thursday’s trade of Dee Gordon to the Mariners? Or will he cave at some point and agree to go to St. Louis or San Francisco?
On the other hand, at what point will the Marlins blink first? Do they get desperate enough to eat a significant portion of his contract, to the point where the Dodgers – or even the Yankees – can’t say no?
To potentially afford Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees will need to find a taker for Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract.
You never know. It was only four years ago the Yankees were making the same claims about getting under the luxury-tax threshold, only to panic over the fan reaction to letting Robinson Cano walk as a free agent and go on to spend wildly on free agents.
But this time I believe they’ll stick to the plan, and they’ll be justified this time around, as loaded as they are on young talent.
The Yankees do have money to spend this winter, with some $ 70 million coming off the books in expired contracts, and on Wednesday at the Stadium, Hal Steinbrenner promised he’d do just that.
However, they’ll only have about $ 25 million to spend and be comfortable about staying under the $ 197 million number, and GM Brian Cashman has indicated he’s going to add at least one significant salary, in the form of a starting pitcher after the Yankees lost out on Shohei Otani.
That doesn’t leave anywhere near the room they’d need to take on Stanton’s salary unless they could dump Ellsbury’s contract on the Marlins. And depending what else the Yankees might want to add this winter, whether it’s another pitcher or a hitter, they might have to unload another salary in a deal with the Marlins, perhaps Chase Headley or Starlin Castro.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine there’s another team out there willing to take on the majority of Ellsbury’s contract either, as hard as Cashman will be looking this winter.
Adding Giancarlo Stanton to a lineup already featuring Aaron Judge is tempting, but it probably isn’t realistic.
(Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)
And even if the Marlins were willing to eat enough of Stanton’s contract to make some sort of deal possible, they would then want premium prospects in return, and the Yankees might balk at that idea as well.
As a rival exec said on Friday, “Don’t forget, you’d be taking a guy for 10 years who has a significant history of injuries. There’s an inherent risk in that, no matter how many home runs he hit last year.”
Bottom line, Yankee people and other execs believe that Stanton eventually will force his way to Los Angeles, which seems to be his preferred destination.
The Dodgers too have luxury-tax issues, but their new ownership has proven willing to spend practically anything in search of the franchise’s first championship since 1988, and after coming oh-so close this past season, may ultimately view Stanton as someone who puts them over the top.
Meanwhile the Yankees, tempted as they may be, are convinced they’ll get there without adding such a weapon.