After a month and a half of rumors, drama, and speculation regarding Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins finally have traded him to the New York Yankees. Unlike the previous two agreed-upon deals, Stanton was willing to approve his no-trade clause to join the Yankees. The deal sends Stanton to the Bronx in exchange for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects; right-handed pitcher Jorge Guzman and shortstop Jose Devers. The Marlins will also send $30 million to the Yankees if Stanton does not opt out of his contract after the 2020 season.
Due to the trades with the Cardinals and Giants getting squashed by Stanton, the Marlins did not have much leverage. The new ownership needed to slash payroll and the Yankees might have been the only team that Stanton was willing to go to that was also willing to take on enough money to make a trade work.
Gary Denbo was one of the first hires made by Derek Jeter and knows the Yankees farm system very well. He spent 27 seasons in the Yankees organization, including the last four as the director of player development. Now serving in the same role with the Marlins, if anyone was going to pick two players from the Yankees farm system to bring to Miami, this was the right guy.
Let’s take a closer look at the three players the Marlins acquired in this trade.
Believe it or not, Castro is only 27 years old. If it seems like he’s been around forever, that’s because he has. Castro made his MLB debut as a 20 year-old shortstop for the Chicago Cubs in 2010. Since then, he has made four All-Star teams and led the National League in hits.
He was traded to the Yankees in December of 2015 and had two solid seasons in the Bronx. Castro's 2016 campaign saw him hit .270/.300/.433 with 21 home runs. He followed that up with an even better 2017 season with an unfortunate blemish, where he hit .300/.338/.454 with a 110 wRC+. (The blemish being two separate trips on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.)
You know what you are getting with Castro. He is a streaky singles hitter who does have power but doesn't tap into it as much as you would like. His defense at second base is very much below average. His inability to get to the ball quick enough will cost the team a few double plays every month. No one has ever doubted Castro's talent, but a propensity for mental errors has stopped him from living up to his potential.
Castro has $22 million remaining on his contract, including a $16 million club option for 2020. He is due $10 million in 2018, which is a net $15 million off the payroll compared to what Stanton would have made.
It would be foolish not to mention that Castro is already rumored to be on the trading block. He makes a lot of money and the Marlins still have more work to do if they plan on slashing payroll to $75 million. The main issue for the Fish, is the trade market for second basemen is flooded with talented players; from Ian Kinsler to Jason Kipnis to Josh Harrison. The likelihood of an adequate return is doubtful.
The ninth-ranked prospect in the Yankees organization prior to the trade, Guzman is a flame-throwing starting pitcher who the Marlins hope pans out as the prize of this trade. Signing with the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, the Yankees acquired the right handed pitcher in a trade last off-season when they moved Brian McCann to Houston. He will spend his 2018 season at 22 years old, while never playing in a full-season league.
Guzman spent last year in the short-season New York-Penn League with the Staten Island Yankees. In 13 starts, he pitched to a 2.30 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 66.2 innings. His fastball is his bread and butter. Guzman is a starting pitcher who can consistently throw fastballs in the high 90's, while also hitting triple digits. While he only walked 18 batters in the New York-Penn League, there is some concern by scouts on whether he will be able to consistently locate his fastball against advanced hitters who will not expand the zone. He also throws a slider and a changeup; MLB Pipeline states that changeup is in its “nascent stages.”
10 years ago, a pitcher who threw in the upper 90's was assured a spot in the major leagues as long as he threw it in the vicinity of the plate. In 2017, that's not the case. Guzman has the live arm and by all accounts a slider with potential to complement it. If he can hone in on his command, repeat his delivery, and develop a usable changeup, the Marlins may have a solid rotation piece for their future. If not? Guzman may be used as an asset out of the bullpen.
The third piece in the Stanton trade is Devers. Do you think the kid is tired of being known as “the cousin of Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers?” Because it would drive me crazy!
The Yankees signed Devers out of the Dominican Republic as part of their 2016 international free agent class. The kid just turned 18 last week, so a belated happy birthday to him. Devers spent his entire 17-year-old season in rookie ball. He hit .245/.336/.342 with 16 stolen bases. It's very hard to take much out of these numbers. I personally don't start evaluating prospects until they reach A-ball.
Devers is a lottery ticket. He is so young and far away; it would be foolish to take a guess on what he will become. Denbo must have been fond of his talent while working with the Yankees. Time will tell if Devers will turn into a legitimate prospect or will spend the rest of his days as “the cousin of Rafael Devers.” For his sake, I hope it's the former.