For a moment on Friday, the Los Angeles Angels had the attention of the baseball world because they had just won the bidding for Shohei Ohtani, the best player in Japanese baseball. Notice I didn’t say best pitcher or best hitter, because essentially he’s both. A guy with a triple-digit fastball and a slew of off-speed pitches on the mound, home run power at the plate, and crazy speed on the basepaths. And the fact that he chose the Angels over everyone else was definitely an upset. And for a moment, Anaheim was the hub of the baseball universe.
And then the Yankees took action. And by taking action, I mean they robbed the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. The Angels get the best player available outside the majors, the Yankees get the best player available inside the majors.
The deal isn’t officially official, but the expectation is that it will be Stanton plus 30 million in exchange for second baseman Starlin Castro and a pair of second-tier prospects. Let me repeat that: the National League MVP plus 30 million dollars for a second baseman who hit .300 and two second-tier minor leaguers.
That wasn’t highway robbery, that was an inside job. Or at least it felt that way to every conspiracy theorist on Twitter. They’re thumbtacking baseball cards on a bulletin board and connecting them all with red string: Derek Jeter played for the Yankees. He’s now in charge of the Marlins. He just traded his best player, and a stack of cash, to his old team for spare parts. Either Brian Cashman is a wizard or Derek Jeter is plant. Or both. Jeter should get another plaque in monument park just for this trade. This is even more spectacular than the time he dove into the stands for that foul ball or threw out Jeremy Giambi at home plate. And almost as impressive as the double iPad on his desk and the sanitizer station behind it.
I’m not going to say that the Marlins completely mishandled the Stanton situation, but this is pretty much the exact trade I’d expect from a guy with two iPads on his desk. Forget iPad, this is more like the kind of trade I’d expect from a guy with two Zunes on his desk.
And while the Marlins misplayed things, Cashman waited. And waited. And then got what he wanted. And if I was a Marlin fan, I’d be pissed. Of course, I’m not a Marlin fan because nobody is a Marlin fan. So that doesn’t really matter.
Is it an embarrassing trade? Yes. Is it bad for baseball? Possibly? Are the Marlins embarrassing and bad for baseball? Definitely.
The crazy thing about this deal is that the Yankees didn’t even need Stanton. They really didn’t. They already had Aaron Judge. Now they have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the same lineup. The AL home run king and the NL home run king. They combined for 111 home runs last year. The San Francisco Giants hit 128 last year. AS A TEAM.
Cashman had said that the priority was adding another starting pitcher, but I guess when a former team legend offers you Giancarlo Stanton for a bag of baseballs, you say yes. And now depending on how new manager Aaron Boone wants to play it, he could have Judge and Stanton hitting back to back. That means there’s a chance that Gary Sanchez and his 33 home runs hit sixth. SIXTH!?!? And that’s before we talk about Gleyber Torres who the Yankees expect to call up this year and is roundly regarded as the best prospect in baseball.
So much for the idea of the Baby Bombers and the idea that the Yankees are doing a slow rebuild. They just slammed that thing into hyper drive. They went to Game 7 of the ALCS and barely lost to the eventual champs. Then they added the NL MVP. These are the old Yankees. The Yankees who made moves for one reason and one reason only: because they could.
Missed out on Ohtani, whatever, we’ll just go get Stanton. That’s why we’re the Yankees and you’re not. And that’s why the Marlins are still the Marlins, but even worse. Why they just traded the worst owner ever for maybe owners even worse than that: and the guy with the reputation ever is fronting the whole operation and looking worse and worse by the second.