Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly heading to the Big Apple.
According to multiple Saturday morning reports, the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins have agreed on a deal and Stanton is expected to approve it, sending the National League MVP to the Bronx.
Source: Stanton from #Marlins to #Yankees is “virtually done.” Close to finish line. Hear #Marlins will get at least Starlin Castro plus good but not top prospects if completed. Again physical review can still be part of this so nothing final, but close.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 9, 2017
sources: yankees and marlins have a deal for giancarlo stanton— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 9, 2017
Expectation is that Stanton will approve trade to #Yankees, if he hasn’t already. Deal pending physicals.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 9, 2017
The implications are many for baseball, with Stanton — who belted 59 home runs last season, the most since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa hit 73 and 64 dingers, respectively, in 2001 — teaming with American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge — who smacked a rookie record 52 homers in 2017 — to create the most formidable middle of the order in the game. After coming close to reaching the World Series in 2017, losing to the eventual-champion Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series, the Yankees could be the presumed favorite heading into 2018.
But what's all this mean for the Cubs? The most obvious effect is that Stanton is out of the NL, making things easier for the North Siders, though the Marlins weren't much competition to begin with, finishing eight games below .500 last season. And Stanton rejected a trade to the Cubs' division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, on Friday, meaning they dodged a bullet not having Stanton slugging in the NL Central.
But the Cubs were one of four teams on Stanton's reported short list of clubs he'd approve a trade to. This could be viewed as the Cubs missing out on the offseason's two biggest targets in as many days, with Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani picking the Los Angeles Angels over the Cubs and five other finalists Friday. But just because Stanton said he'd like to play on the North Side doesn't mean the Cubs were ever actually showing any interest or talking with the Marlins about a deal.
Instead, the biggest effect of this trade from a Cubs standpoint figures to come a year from now, when Bryce Harper becomes one of the biggest and most sought-after free agents in baseball history. The Washington Nationals star has been on Cubs fans' wish list for a few years now as his impending free agency draws closer. There has been plenty of speculation that the Yankees would be a leading candidate for Harper's services, with their historically deep pockets and rapid rebuild that has them near the top of the baseball heap once again. But does the Stanton trade knock them out of the running? Stanton's contract is gargantuan, a massive 13-year deal when he signed it that still has as many as 10 years and $259 million remaining (he can opt out after the 2020 season). Plus, Stanton and Judge are both corner outfielders, the same position that Harper plays. With those corner outfield spots and a whole ton of money spoken for between Stanton and Judge, the Yankees might no longer make sense as a destination for Harper, arguably baseball's biggest star.
The Cubs, meanwhile, now don't have to promise long-term corner-outfield spots to either Stanton or Ohtani. The money will of course be tricky, with the team's young stars like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras all due big-time raises in the next few seasons. But the Cubs could move to the forefront of the Harper conversation — even if they already were in Chicago, where Harper's every move has seemingly been construed as a sign he wants to join fellow Las Vegas native Bryant in Cubbie Blue.
As for the present, the Cubs still have Schwarber and Jason Heyward patrolling the corner-outfield spots at Wrigley Field, with a host of interchangeable parts for Joe Maddon to play with. And the middle of the order, dominated by Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Contreras, is still a mighty strong one.
But there's a new souvenir company to compete with in New York.