Everything is connected. Well, not everything. But a lot of things are, with the Yankees and Marlins and Derek Jeter and big home run hitters and even bigger contracts, once it becomes official that Giancarlo Stanton is going to the Bronx and that Shohei Ohtani going to the Angels isn't the biggest baseball news of the week after all. Oh, and one other thing: Are we having any fun yet?
The history lesson here actually starts with Aaron Boone, now the Yankee manager. He hit one of the most famous home runs in Yankee history, bottom of the 11th, Game 7, Yankees-Red Sox, 2003 American League Championship Series. The Yankees go to the World Series, end up losing to the Marlins in six games. It was a Series everybody was sure the Yankees were going to win. They didn't.
Then Boone tore up his knee in an offseason basketball game. The Yankees needed a third baseman, badly. So they made a trade for Alex Rodriguez. At that point he had seven years left on the 10-year, $252 million free-agent contract he had signed with the Texas Rangers after he left the Mariners. He was a shortstop, his whole life, A-Rod was. But he agreed to move to third base to be a Yankee.
Now Stanton is a right fielder. So is Aaron Judge. They both can't play there at the new Yankee Stadium. Jeter and A-Rod couldn't both play shortstop. A-Rod went to third. Everything connected. And by the way? No one would ever suggest, in this world, that Giancarlo Stanton would ever derail himself with the bad choices that Rodriguez made; that he would ever sabotage himself the way Rodriguez did. The only thing that has sabotaged Stanton so far are injuries, including a pitch that hit him in the face.
But there really is home run history repeating itself here with the New York Yankees. A-Rod, bless his heart, was 28 years old when the Yankees made the trade for him. He had hit 345 home runs in the big leagues. But the Rangers were drowning in financial troubles and willing to do just about anything to get out from under Rodriguez's contract and get him out of Arlington, Texas, including paying some of the money they still owe him.
The whole thing was a perfect home run baseball storm. The Yankees had stopped hitting in the World Series, they had a chance to add someone who had already hit 50 home runs in a season twice; had a chance to bring a big, expensive star to an expensive star town. And they were dealing with a team, the Rangers, that was doing everything except holding a tag sale out in front of their ballpark.
The way Derek Jeter's Marlins are doing now, once it becomes official that the Yankee legend now running that team sends his Marlins legend to Yankee Stadium.
So A-Rod became a Yankee in 2004. Not only did they absorb their share of the new contract they would later, after the guy exercised the opt-out clause in his contract, they gave him a new, 10-year contract worth $275 million.
So the length of that contract extension is connected to this story, too, along with the new Yankee manager and the new guy in charge of the Marlins, Capt. Jeter, who now gets out from under Stanton's deal the way Tom Hicks once did in Texas. Even people in outer space know that before the end of that contract, as Rodriguez's body began to break down and his reputation broke down again because he turned out to be cheating, the Yankees regretted giving him all those years and all that money. But it looked like the greatest deal of all time when they made it.
The Yankees were seemingly set up to win a lot of World Series in February of '04 when they made the A-Rod deal. Are you kidding? They had just played six of them in eight years and won four of them. They were going to put a star like A-Rod with their own, homegrown latest star, Derek Jeter. A-Rod and Derek Jeter were going to play a lot more World Series, and win a lot more.
They played one and won one together.
Now the Yankees trade for Giancarlo Stanton, after a year when they did not make it to the World Series the way they did in '03, but had a 3-2 lead in the ALCS, before they ended up losing to the Astros. They saw a unique opportunity with Stanton and seized on it. They put Stanton, who just hit 59 home runs, with their own home-grown, home run star, All Rise Judge, in Aaron Boone's batting order.
Stanton has played eight years in the big leagues. He is 28, same age as A-Rod was. He has already hit 267 home runs in the big leagues, an average of 33 and change a season. A-Rod was averaging 38 and change when he came to New York.
You bet Stanton sure is working on the long, modern version of Alex Rodriguez's original contract with the Rangers, one that of course including an opt-out clause because, hey, you know that even when a team has committed 10 years and $252 million to you, they still needed to add some sweeteners to the deal. Like the opt-out and no-trade sweeteners that the Marlins added on to Stanton's deal.
Of course you can see why Stanton is such a sexy, splashy addition for the Yankees. Of course this is the kind of Big Deal that the Yankees love, especially after the shade Shohei Ohtani, their first heart's desire in this baseball offseason, threw at them by rejecting them the way he did before he signed with the Angels.
Of course the Yankees, even when they already have a home run combination like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, see Judge and Stanton being the new Ruth and Gehrig. And maybe they will be. Maybe Judge-Stanton and the Judge-Stanton Yankees will dominate baseball the way the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees once did.
But 13 years after they made the A-Rod deal, and 10 years exactly after they signed him to the 10-year extension that they would be cursing up and down 161st St., they take on a 10-year contract with Stanton that nearly matches the deal they gave A-Rod dollar-for-dollar.
Big news, big home run guy. Big Deal. The possibilities are endless. The future looks amazing for the Yankees, same as it once did with Alex Rodriguez.