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Giancarlo Stanton asked for this

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The highest-paid Yankees player wasn’t healthy enough to contribute in his team’s most critical games. That’s making him an easy target for disgruntled fans and media.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, the Marlins “gave” Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees...at least that’s how the trade was being critiqued in the moment. New Miami CEO Derek Jeter had the most impactful player on the MLB market—the reigning NL MVP who doubled as a sports marketer’s dreamboat—and used it to enrich his former team. Conveniently aligning with this (over-simplified) narrative, the Yankees have racked up 203 regular season wins since then in large part thanks to a mighty offense. However, Stanton has been hampered by injuries throughout his tenure in pinstripes, preventing him from maintaining superstar-caliber production, and in the case of the just-completed ALCS, reducing him to a bystander as the Yanks again fell short of their World Series mandate.

Biceps and knee issues wiped out 89% of Stanton’s 2019 campaign (144 of the 162 games), but he returned to active duty in late September. A team that thrived despite the most-used injured list in MLB history was nonetheless grateful to have their high-upside power threat back in the mix for the postseason.

The Yankees went a perfect 5-0 in games that Stanton played in October, and an infuriating 0-4—all against the Houston Astros—when he was sidelined with a strained quad. He suffered the latest ailment while hustling down the first-base line on Oct. 12.

Giancarlo Stanton spent the vast majority of his year watching from the dugout.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Stanton reportedly lobbied manager Aaron Boone to put him the lineup with a hobbled quad. After struggling to produce in game five, Boone replaced him with Edwin Encarnación in Saturday’s gut-wrenching 6-4 loss.

The decision to play was taken out of Stanton’s hands by a legitimate injury and conservative managerial approach, but it’s difficult to fully sympathize with the Fish’s former franchise player when you remember that this is the fate he handpicked for himself.

On top of making a then-record $325 million guarantee to Stanton, Jeffrey Loria took the undisciplined step of including a full no-trade clause in his contract. Fast-forward to late 2017, when new ownership aimed to free him from a non-competitive situation with the rebuilding Marlins (and lighten their payroll in the process), that proved to be a serious hurdle. The Giants and Cardinals showed the most enthusiasm for acquiring Stanton, reaching tentative agreements to swap young controllable talent for his proven impact bat; he exercised his veto rights in both cases.

As the Winter Meetings approached, Stanton’s camp countered with a list of four acceptable destinations: the Astros, Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees. He had set his sights on established contenders with win-now aspirations and the resources to assemble a deep roster around him. After this call to action, the Yanks negotiated to send Jorge Guzman, José Devers and Starlin Castro to Miami.

Stanton wanted to taste the ultimate satisfaction of winning a World Series title while in the prime of his career. He understood the severe backlash the awaited him should he fall short of that objective. He doesn’t want nor deserve your pity.

Although Stanton remains under contract through at least the 2027 season (owed $234 million from 2020-2027 plus a $10 million buyout on his 2028 option), history tell us his window to lead a team to championship glory is considerably narrower than that. Stanton celebrates his 30th birthday on Nov. 8. Meanwhile, the Marlins will have Guzman and Devers under club control for a similar time period, but they cannot afford to wait deep into the next decade for their rebuild to bear fruit; fans will lose faith if the National League’s longest postseason drought isn’t snapped soon.

To this point, a blockbuster trade intended to revitalize the Yankees’ illustrious brand and rebrand the Marlins as something other than a laughingstock has both franchises still feeling unfulfilled.