LAKE BUENA VISTA – The Hot Stove is officially sizzling.
After the ‘soft open’ of the MLB Winter Meetings on Sunday, things hit the ground running on Monday. The day opened with the buzz of the Giancarlo Stanton presser, and news soon quickly spread throughout the media room here at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Hotel that Derek Jeter was holding a conference call with reporters to address the Stanton trade.
Jon Heyman tweeted out in the morning that the Yankees and Pirates potentially could be discussing a trade for starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. He also mentioned that the Yankees were looking to unload Jacoby Ellsbury and were willing to eat half of the remaining $68.6 million; however, getting Ellsbury to waive his no-trade clause would be the biggest hurdle of all.
Well, the day is officially over (it’s past midnight local time here) and Ellsbury is still with the team and there has been no update on the talks with Pittsburgh, however, the overall feeling in the room here is that it’s going to take Clint Frazier and some other pieces to get Cole.
In his conference call, Jeter defended his decision to move Stanton and he deemed the return from the Yankees as the “best available.”
As far as the ‘main event’ of the day, Stanton addressed the media for the first time as a member of the Yankees and a couple of things were evident right away: he was certainly elated to be here, and he still had a sour taste in his mouth from how things ended in Miami.
The first words out of Stanton’s mouth after he donned a No. 27 pinstriped jersey and Yankees hat for the first time were: “I’m glad to be here and part of the New York Yankees. Looking forward to being part of the winning environment and winning culture.”
He went on to talk about how he wanted to “win now” and that the Yankees were in position to do that. He shared a great deal of admiration for Aaron Judge and reiterated several times that he would do whatever the team needed him to do in order to be successful.
There were also a few things he said that caught me by surprise.
First, he openly criticized his former franchise.
“There’s no structure. No stamp of: this is how things are going to be,” the 28-year-old said. “It’s a different direction every spring training: you gotta learn something new every spring, a different manager every spring.”
He also had this message for Marlins fans: “Hang in there.” And “Watch from afar if you’re going to watch.”
Stanton also confirmed the report that Marlins management tried to strong-arm him into accepting a trade to either the Cardinals or Giants (neither team was on his trade list) or else he would be stuck with Miami for the next 10 years. Stanton did not respond well to the threat.
“You can’t say that and expect me to jump at the situation right there if it’s not the right situation for me,” the reigning NL MVP said. “You’re not going to force me to do anything, regardless.”
Calling the bluff worked out well for Stanton and the Yankees.
Finally, when asked about how he would handle the pressure of playing in New York, Stanton simply replied, “It’s the same game I played down in Miami, just a bigger scale and a brighter light.”
So the Yankees made the first big splash of the Winter Meetings, and I fully expect them to keep swimming. There is a starting pitcher to be had, a couple of contracts to be moved, and more headlines to be made as we get underway here.
As Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said late Monday afternoon, “We’re not done.”
Did You Hear That?
(notable quotes from Day 2)
–Brian Cashman on landing Stanton: “It was an opportunity that presented itself and when it was time to thread the needle we were all in.”
–Cashman on the Ellsbury situation: “Currently, he’s going to come in and compete to try to get his job back. A job that was taken from him in the regular season (last year).”
–Aaron Boone on Stanton: “We feel like we have a really special culture brewing and we feel like adding Giancarlo Stanton, the player but just as much the person, to that room – he’s only going to make it even stronger.”
–Giancarlo Stanton on joining the Yankees: “They’re winners, and they’re young, and they’re in a position to win for a long time, and I’ve lost for a long time and I want to change that dynamic… The team strikes from everywhere, they’re well balanced, and they’re hungry.”
–Stanton on how long it took him to agree to Yankees deal once it was presented to him: “Halfway through the ‘Yank…’ I said yes. And they said sleep on it to make sure, but I said I know I’m not going to need it.”