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INFIELD CHATTER: Stanton deal not worth your anger

Scott Holland
Scott Holland

Show me a baseball fan, and I’ll show you someone complaining about Miami trading reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees.

And sure, there are dozens of reasons to pillory this deal, but that’s played out by now. Instead, here’s a few suggestions why the transaction isn’t worth getting all hot under the proverbial collar:

For starters, this deal was beyond inevitable. When Major League Baseball in late September granted unanimous approval for a group led by Derek Jeter to buy the struggling Marlins for $1.2 billion, the stage was set. The new ownership had to take on a lot of debt to buy out Jeffrey Loria, and it was clear before the ink was dry the goal was taking payroll from about $117 million per year down as low as $55 million. Stanton, holder of the game’s richest contract, had to go, and Miami was going to get fleeced on the deal regardless of its trading partner.

(We could argue a Stanton trade was set in stone the day he signed his massive contract, to say nothing of what ill awaited Marlins fans the moment Loria got involved. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get a chance to kill a third MLB franchise after first laying waste to the Expos and now putting Miami in a no-win situation — unless the opponents are Dade County taxpayers.)

And while any Stanton deal would have elicited weeping and gnashing of teeth, there’s a lot of extra vitriol because it’s the Yankees — the rich getting richer and the Jeter connection — but that’s precisely why this trade has an upside in my book: the Yankees have resumed their rightful spot as baseball’s most hated franchise.

Sure, it was fun for folks to hate on the overexposed Cubs and too-smart-by-half manager Joe Maddon, but no one really bought the team that defined lovable losing for a century as the Evil Empire. This iteration of the Yankees represents the natural order of things. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are the inexplicably amazing young studs and Stanton is the small market thumper ushered into the Big Apple on a mountain of money. The only shocker is he came from the Marlins instead of the A's.

It might be natural to use the Yankee hate as a segue into another upside some folks (mainly Cubs fans) are touting, that New York buying another decade of Stanton means they won’t have room in the clubhouse or the checking account for free-agent-to-be Bryce Harper. While I appreciate the additional intrigue, I’m not so optimistic.

Primarily, never rule out the Yankees throwing money after proven talent. The team isn’t close to maxing out its revenue streams, and although the luxury tax rules are more serious than in previous eras, if Harper wants to wear midnight blue pinstripes, agent Scott Boras and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman can make it happen.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget the Cardinals and Giants each worked out deals with Miami until Stanton exercised his trade veto rights. That doesn’t guarantee they can bid as much as Harper wants, but it also likely buys them a seat at Bryce’s table. And don’t sleep on Boston trying to counterpunch — although I see them as a better landing spot for Manny Machado.

Finally, the main reason I’m not mad about this trade is I already used up my Marlins hatred when the new ownership inexplicably fired guys like Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine, to say nothing of the veterans scouts and other operations employees shown the door for no discernible baseball reason.

There’s a difference between wanting to install your own folks with shared organizational goals and indiscriminately dumping loyal employees and beloved franchise icons. For a team with precious little history to celebrate, and hell bent on putting an awful product on the field in 2018, there seems to be no logic in chopping away at fans’ connection to the team.

The Stanton trade was vintage Marlins. It’s the start of the fourth major fire sale for a team founded in 1993, except the last two didn’t follow championships. I don’t care if you’re legitimately mad, just don’t act surprised.

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