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Yankees ‘kicking the tires’ on Stanton, but don’t hold your breath Yankees fans


In the wake of last night’s report that Giancarlo Stanton is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause for the Cardinals and Giants, but would do so for the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Astros, a new round of trade speculation and rumors has begun. First up, assessing the intent of the Yankees, who newly find themselves in the Stanton conversation.

From the Daily News:

According to a report, the Marlins slugger named the Yankees among three other teams he’d be willing to accept a trade. The 2017 NL home run king reportedly went so far as to even say he is “inclined” to accept a move to the Bronx.

Despite having an exorbitant price tag, the Yankees are apparently “kicking the tires” on Stanton, whom Marlins owner Derek Jeter has been actively shopping since taking over the strapped franchise.

Eh, color me super skeptical.

For as cool as it would be for the Yankees to have two near-60 homer dudes in the middle of the lineup, it doesn’t strike me as a move they need to make or a move that is in keeping with what we know about their current organizational philosophy.

Whether you agree it’s a smart move or a necessary move or not, the Yankees have, for a many years now, made it clear that they seek to get below the luxury tax threshold. They haven’t yet been able to do it, but the goal is within sight. If they get below it for just one year, they basically reset the luxury tax penalty clock, going from the current 50% tax they pay for every dollar above the threshold they land to only 20% the next time they cross it. At the moment the tax cutoff is a payroll of $197 million. It’s hard to see how they could keep below that while taking on the massive salary the Marlins would likely expect the Yankees to take on in a Stanton deal.

Setting luxury tax considerations aside, you have to look at what you’re sacrificing if you’re the Yankees. A Stanton deal will not only require the Yankees to take on some salary they don’t want to take on, but will require them to part with at least a couple of good prospects form their stacked system. If the Yankees are going to deal prospects — and given that they’re in a win-now posture, they will inevitably do so at some point — why not hold on to them for a deal that makes more sense for them? No, there aren’t many more players better than Stanton, but there may be players who better fill the Yankees’ needs than Stanton does. New York already hits more homers than anyone. Maybe dealing some of that prospect talent for a pitcher or a third baseman makes more sense?

Finally, there’s the possibility that, if you commit close to $30 million to Stanton a year for the next 2-10 years, depending on whether he exercises his opt-out, you can’t pursue other high-profile players who hit free agency. Next year Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be free agents. If Brian Cashman commits to Stanton, it’s hard to see how Hal Steinbrenner opens the wallet for one of those guys. Guys who, however expensive they are, will not cost prospects in addition to dollars.

Stanton would look pretty darn good in pinstripes. He and Aaron Judge hitting back to back would scare the living daylights out of opposing pitchers. Trading for him would ensure that the Yankees added a blue chip player to their already potent attack while holding off for next year’s loaded free agent class guarantees them noting. And hey, it ain’t our money.

But I just don’t see how a trade for Stanton fits given what we know about how Yankees brass thinks. They’ve signaled, over and over again, that they’re eager to build a World Series contender mostly from within and within payroll parameters that look like those of most of the rest of the league, not as the financial alpha dog they were in the past. They came within one game of reaching the World Series just this past season with young players and less reliance on super high priced hired hands than they have in the past. I suspect they’ll continue on that course, at least for one more season.

Ronald Acuna tops Keith Law’s top-100 prospect list

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ESPN’s Keith Law has released his annual top-100 prospects list. According to Law, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the number one prospect in baseball.

After blazing through High-A and Double-A ball last season, Acuna was the youngest player in Triple-A in 2017. He was 19 years-old all season long and put up a fantastic line of .335/.384/.534 in 486 plate appearances at Double and Triple-A. He then went on to star in the Arizona Fall League, leading that circuit in homers. Law, who is not one to throw hyperbolic comps around, says, “if Acuna stays in center and maxes out his power, he’s going to be among the best players in baseball, with a Mike Trout-ish profile.”

Acuna, who is 20 now, is likely play the bulk of the season in Atlanta, even if he’s kept down at Triple-A for the first couple of weeks of the season to manipulate his service time, er, I mean to allow him to develop his skills more fully. Or something. Given the presence of reigning Gold Glove center fielder Ender Inciarte, Acuna is not likely to man center for the Braves this year, but Law says he’d be a plus right field defender, which could make the Braves outfield Death to Flying Things in 2018. At least when Nick Markakis is not playing.

Number two on the list: Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As law notes, the name may be familiar but he’s not very much like his old man. Mostly because young Vlad can take a walk. Which is better, even if it’s nowhere near as fun as swinging at balls that bounce in the dirt first.

For the other 98, you’ll have to click through.