This isn't what the New York Yankees set out to do, and that's what makes this thing so fascinating. They did not see Giancarlo Stanton as a necessity. They saw him as an opportunity.To transform a really good team into a potentially great one. To put baseball's two more fearsome
This isn't what the New York Yankees set out to do, and that's what makes this thing so fascinating. They did not see Giancarlo Stanton as a necessity. They saw him as an opportunity.
To transform a really good team into a potentially great one. To put baseball's two more fearsome power hitters back-to-back in one lineup. To again place the Bronx Bombers on center stage.
How long until Spring Training begins? Until we have the chance to see Aaron Judge and Stanton in the same uniform, in the same lineup? How will new Yankees manager Aaron Boone line up the guy with 59 home runs (Stanton) and the one with 52 (Judge).
Can you imagine the smile on Boone's face right about now? He just stepped into one of the real cool stories baseball has had in a long time.
Judge helped transform the Yankees in 2017. Let's not forget that. Not just in terms of going back into the playoffs, but something more than that. It's one thing to be good. That's what every team strives for. But teams also want to be interesting and to have personality and identity and all that stuff.
When the Yankees had this larger-than-life 25-year-old slugger -- all 6-foot-7, 282 pounds of him -- this guy who hit the ball harder and farther than anyone had in years, it changed them in ways that can't be measured merely in wins and losses.
People stopped and watched when Judge came to bat. They waited for something to happen -- for one of those moonshot home runs to disappear into the night, for a moment that they would tell their coworkers about the next day, for a moment that would bring them back to the ballpark again and again.
Judge was so physically impressive, yet so gentle and thoughtful in his demeanor, he seemed too good to be true. When he struggled down the stretch or at times in the postseason, he said and did all the right things.
He said the bottom line was winning and losing, that the game was hard, that he was working to get himself back on track. And when he was good last season, he was historically good.
His 52 home runs were the most any Major League rookie has ever hit. When you watched him, you thought of Babe Ruth. It just fit.
When the Yankees visited Baltimore or Toronto or Chicago, it was Judge people wanted to see. Now the Yankees, according to reports, are putting the finishing touches on a trade that would bring baseball's other great power hitter of 2017 into their fold, pending Stanton's approval.
Stanton and Judge hit the ball harder and farther than any two players in baseball in 2017, according to Statcast™. Now, they are about to be teammates. The Yankees, who have always had a certain aura, are about to have something historically good.
When Judge wasn't captivating an entire sport last summer, Stanton was. After the All-Star break, he hit 25 home runs in a 40-game stretch. That got him to 51 on August 29, and put him within range of 60, still a magical number.
Stanton finished at 59 and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He just celebrated his 28th birthday last month, and to watch him is to see a lot of Judge. Both are quiet men, humble men.
Both understand that they are role models, that people are watching. But beyond all of that is that these two men crush baseballs and do things you leave the ballpark or turn off the television remembering. Putting them together suddenly makes Opening Day seem too far away.
Wait, what about adding that starting pitcher that was Yankees general manager Brian Cashman's focus? Sure, Cashman will get to that.
This is different. This is what smart organizations do. They have the ability to pivot, and they are fearless about it.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and Cashman have been disciplined and focused these past two seasons in developing a blueprint and sticking to it.
They were not in a full rebuild. But they knew they had to replenish their Minor League system to have a chance to compete. Even if a club has all the money in the world, it can't compete consistently without a productive system.
And this replenished farm system is part of what allowed the Yankees to make this deal. Also, there was the fact that Stanton had veto power over any trade, and the Yankees were one of the teams he would accept.
Now the Hot Stove is rolling. Shohei Ohtani is signing with the Angels, Stanton is headed to the Yankees and the Winter Meetings begin Monday.
Next up: J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and free agency. This is going to be good.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.