When I first learned of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, I'll admit I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Yankees just added the reigning National League MVP and barely gave up anything in return. What a deal! On the other hand, the Yankees did inherit the bulk of Stanton's gargantuan contract, 10 years and $220 million dollars-worth of it. So much for getting under that Luxury Tax cap.
The other thing that left me scratching my head about this trade is the fact that the Yanks already have their own Stanton on the roster: his name is Aaron Judge, and he also plays right field. So now the Yankees have two linebacker-sized, right-handed hitting sluggers who play right field. Will one of them be the DH? I don't know if Stanton is quite ready to give up his glove yet.
Not only that, the second best hitter on the Yanks was, before this trade, Gary Sanchez. As you might remember, Sanchez is a catcher, meaning he can't play every day behind the plate. So if you want Sanchez to become your DH on days that he's not catching, then one of your right fielders doesn't play. Unless you move one of your right fielders out of position and into left field... but then Brett Gardner doesn't play... unless you move Gardner back to center field, which means that Aaron Hicks doesn't play. See what I mean?!?
All these machinations aside, it's a net positive to have Giancarlo Stanton in the Yankees' lineup (position TBD). Which brings me back to my original point: Brian Cashman made a nice trade. In fact, of all the things that a GM does, making trades is the thing Cashman does best. (In fact, it may be the only thing he does well. But no burying here.)
But take a closer look at this trade: the Yankees, with nearly unlimited resources, were able to wait out the Marlins until they had no choice but to trade Stanton for pennies on the dollar. And there were a lot of dollars; so many dollars that most MLB teams couldn't afford it. Does it take savvy baseball acumen to pay the most money? Do you think other teams, even those on Stanton's wish list, could have given up a better package in return for Stanton if they were willing to take on as much salary as the Yankees did? I'd sure think so.
Being able to stretch the budget also allows Cashman to indulge in his worst capacity as a GM: signing free agents to terrible contracts. What other teams in baseball, save maybe the Dodgers, could afford to sit Jacoby "The Albatross" Ellsbury for most of the season? Or resign Aroldis Chapman for more money than any closer has ever been given, only to see him lose the closer role for a stretch. Throw in the gaudy contracts handed to the pedestrian Chase Headley or the long-term yokes of C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez that had plagued the Yanks in the past, and you get a sense of just how much leeway Cashman really has.
Yes, Cashman makes some nice trades. But a lot of those trades are made to paper over the terrible signings that otherwise hold the Yankees back. Just don't get me started on how he treats his managers...