LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A major league source said that a couple of months ago, when the Miami Marlins first approached teams about the possibility of trading for Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees and Red Sox said they weren’t interested.
The Red Sox stayed the course. The Yankees reserved the right to change their minds.
Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, confirmed that scenario after Stanton’s introductory news conference Monday at the Winter Meetings when asked about reports that surfaced early in the process that Stanton would not agree to join Boston.
“Boston was never presented to us as an option,” said Wolfe. “To my knowledge, Boston never had interest in him. They never tried to make a deal with the Marlins.”
Added Stanton, “I really didn’t have a thought about them.”
We have no idea whom the Red Sox will end up with for a power hitter, but they need to make sure it’s someone comparable with Stanton. If not, this is a bad look. They had to know the Yankees might enter the fray.
Many of us thought Stanton was precisely the player president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski would go after. While the money commitment is large, the Red Sox decided to sit this one out. Stanton will be in pinstripes, and if he’s really good, he will haunt the Red Sox for a long time.
The latest superstar to be introduced to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry will be part of an incredibly powerful middle-of-the-order combination with Aaron Judge. Stanton, the National League MVP, hit 59 homers and drove in 132 runs last season. Judge, the AL Rookie of the Year and runner-up to Jose Altuve as MVP, hit 52 homers and drove in 114 runs.
“We’re excited to be playing together and using our talents together,” said Stanton. “We’re very similar and we’re going to learn from each other and make each other better.”
While some question why Stanton would choose the Yankees, given that he enjoyed himself in the baseball abyss of Miami, it appears the lure of New York — where he has friends and close associates — was too appealing. Stanton also wanted to go to a winner, and he loved what he saw of Judge and the electricity around the Yankees, who took the Astros to seven games in the ALCS.
“Watching them from afar, I just loved the way they played the game and had so much fun doing it,” Stanton said.
But a few former coaches and executives who know Stanton have some concerns about how he will adapt to the fishbowl of New York.
“I hope he thought it through,” said a former Marlins executive, “because I don’t think he has the personality that can thrive in that market.
“He doesn’t really like a lot of media attention and he really can’t hide from it there. He may be able to physically limit his interviews, but he won’t be able to hide from the scrutiny he’ll receive in the tabloids whether he’s cooperative with the media or not.
“I think he would have been better off in a place like St. Louis, where the fans are into the team but there isn’t as much media attention. Even San Francisco would have provided more shelter for him.”
Of course, Stanton can’t hide from the $290 million remaining on his contract. The Yankees got $30 million of relief, and they also were able to shed two more years of second baseman Starlin Castro’s $22 million.
Judge and Stanton will go through times when they’re slumping, but the lineup should remain potent.
“A guy like Greg Bird is going to get some good pitches to hit,” said an AL executive. “Bird could hit 35-40 homers in that ballpark if he stays healthy.”
It’s anyone’s guess whether the Red Sox did the right thing by not getting involved and paying out that much to one player. We also don’t know whether Stanton would have waived his no-trade clause for Boston. He didn’t for St. Louis or San Francisco.
The Red Sox also have four lefties in the rotation, while the Yankees lineup is loaded with righthanded slugging.
The Sox, though, have handled Judge and Stanton very well in the past. Judge hit only .151 against Boston pitching last season. Stanton owns a .238 average with one homer and one RBI against the Red Sox in 23 plate appearances.
Stanton turned down the Giants and Cardinals and, in the end, wanted to play for one of the teams he had listed — the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, or Astros — feeling they were in locations he liked and were likely to be consistent winners.
He said of the Marlins, “I wanted to go forward and advance with our pitching staff. I wanted to add rather than subtract. The way they wanted to go was subtract. I didn’t want to be a part of a losing season.
“I gave my list of teams prior to when they went to San Francisco and the Cardinals and struck deals with them. I was hoping to listen to them. They’re great people and great organizations, but they weren’t the teams I listed.”
And the Red Sox never wanted to get into the hunt. It’s puzzling.
All we can do is see where the Red Sox end up with their lineup. Then we can accurately assess the impact of the Stanton move for the Yankees and the non-move by the Red Sox.
But right now, it’s not a good look.