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Jury still out on Giancarlo Stanton trade one year later

The prospects in the deal still need time to make an impact

Stanton’s move was the headliner of the 2017 Winter Meetings. What have we learned since then?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today marks exactly one calendar year since the press conference announcing that Giancarlo Stanton had joined the New York Yankees. Days earlier, the recently-crowned National League MVP had been dealt for Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzmán and José Devers. The Yankees also took on all but $30 million of the remaining $295 million left on Stanton’s contract as part of the deal.

While the move made sense for the new Marlins ownership who wanted to save money and rebuild from the ground up, the trade additionally had an alienating effect on the team’s fan base who hated seeing the franchise left without its face with the knowledge that more stars were soon to be out the door. A year later, the loss of “Bigfoot” stings less, and perhaps each element of the trade can be judged more fairly.

Giancarlo Stanton

The slugger was excited to be a Yankee after years of losing in Miami. While his numbers “dipped” in his first year in the Bronx and he fell short of projections, it was improbable he could repeat his magical 2017 season that saw him slug 59 home runs and achieve a 7.3 WAR. Still, he reached 100 runs and RBI while splitting time between DH and the corner outfield spots last year. He accounted for 4.2 WAR according to FanGraphs on a Yankees team that finished with the third-best record in baseball.

His contract takes him through at least his age-37 season in 2027, assuming the Yankees buy him out for $10 million after that year. Prior to the deal, the 29-year-old was projected to net over 5.0 WAR each season through 2022 with obvious age-related decline afterwards.

Starlin Castro

Castro, meanwhile, accumulated 2.3 WAR while giving similar production to his time with the Cubs and Yankees. He earned nearly $11 million in 2018 and has two years remaining on his current deal for roughly $28 million more. The Dominican native will turn 29 just days before the 2019 season starts and could very well be flipped with cash for more prospects at some point before becoming a free agent prior to 2021.

Jorge Guzmán

The Yankees had acquired the fireballing righty Guzmán from Houston in the Brian McCann deal before the 2017 season began. He immediately went from ninth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system to second in the Marlins’ according to Baseball America. Soon to be 23 years old, he joined the franchise with a triple-digit, 70-grade fastball and a plus slider that indicate a middle-relief floor with the upside of a middle-to-top-of-the-rotation starter if he can develop an effective third pitch.

However, the young Dominican struggled with wildness after joining the Marlins High-A affiliate in Jupiter, allowing 64 walks in 96 innings which contributed to an unsightly 1.54 WHIP. He did strike out more than a batter per inning and retained the potential of a number-three starter despite being ranked just sixth by at the moment. He could be up at some point next season.

José Devers

Devers, the cousin of Boston’s highly-touted third baseman of the same last name, came over as an above-average defensive shortstop and was just 17 when dealt to the Fish. At the time, he was said to have a projectable frame that would add strength and gap-power to an already good hit tool as he matures. He mostly lived up to those projections while with Low-A Greensboro in 2018, and his current to the ETA to the majors is 2022, right around when the Marlins’ projected window is set to begin.

Given all the variables and unknowns that come with developing prospects, it’s still too early to judge the trade. Seen in context as the first of a series of trades that revamped and replenished the Marlins’ farm system that was desperately lacking in quality prospects at the end of the 2017 regular season, it still seems like something the new ownership had to do.

The team also ridded itself of a burdensome contract tied to a player who, while elite and popular, would not likely have been on the next Marlins playoff squad.

On the other hand, both Guzmán and Devers have a chance to be major pieces on that team, or at the very least role-players. Castro may still yield further prospects, and you never know who is an adjustment away from superstardom. We will have to wait another four or more seasons before we truly know how the trade turned out, but at the very least it made practical sense at the time and still seems like the right decision now, despite the pain of seeing a beloved MVP go.