He strode across the stage toward his new manager and grabbed his new jersey.
"Sometimes, things just spiral out of place," Stanton said as he stood at a podium at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, where the meetings are being held. "And you need to find a new home."
Eager to escape a situation in Miami he described as lacking direction and stability, Stanton jolted the baseball industry with his new destination. The arrival of the reigning
Disinterested in bloating their budget and lacking major holes, the Dodgers have yet to make a substantial move this winter. That pattern could hold through this week and into the spring.
"There are definitely ways that this winter can play out where we make a few bigger moves," Friedman said. "But I also think there are scenarios in which this winter plays out where there aren't moves of substance, and it's more on the margin.
"Our thought process is we're really happy with the talent base that we have right now. And so anything that we do that makes it better we'll obviously be very happy about. We're not going to try to force anything."
The strategy represents a shift from last winter, when the Dodgers handed out $192 million to re-sign Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill. Friedman connected the aggression of that offseason to the calm of this one.
"We consciously did a lot of our heavy lifting last winter, recognizing that we were locking a core in place for the foreseeable future," Friedman said. "And we were happy about it then. We're happy about it now."
The optimism is well-earned. The Dodgers won 104 games last season and reached Game 7 of the World Series. The depth in the starting rotation is impressive and the lineup is mostly set.
Despite the faith in their roster, the team still pondered the feasibility of adding Stanton, who led the majors with 59 home runs in 2017. An attempt at fiscal creativity could not bridge a gap with the
Stanton held a full no-trade clause. As he bartered with Miami’s new ownership, now led by Derek Jeter, he provided a list of four teams he would accept: the Dodgers, the Yankees, the
The Marlins attempted to leverage Stanton into changing his mind, and brokered trades with the
The bluff failed. Unable to sway Stanton, the Marlins re-engaged with the teams on Stanton’s list. The Dodgers’ payroll remained an issue. With their luxury-tax payroll number estimated at $205.5 million, above the $197 million threshold that triggers penalties, the Dodgers needed to unload contracts for players like
"They were never able to make a deal with the Marlins," Wolfe said. "So we were never presented with them as a viable option. That's about all I can say."
Added Stanton: "I'm not sure how aggressive they were."
Stanton understood the Dodgers finances. Wolfe joked that Stanton could lecture at a conference after studying the intricacies of the situation. With Kershaw, Kazmir, Gonzalez, McCarthy, Logan Forsythe, Yasmani Grandal and Hyun-Jin Ryu all entering free agency after 2018, the Dodgers will improve their flexibility significantly. Even if Kershaw is likely the highest priority, they can spend elsewhere.
But Stanton did not want to wait. In 2014, he fractured his orbital bone after being hit in the face with a fastball. A lesson stuck with him after the wounds healed. Stanton wanted to maximize the opportunity in front of him, rather than tempt fate again.
"It was a consideration," Wolfe said. "But he has this attitude that life is fleeting. We don't know where we're going to be in a year."
He will not be a Dodger. He will be a Yankee, for the next decade, as Wolfe insisted Stanton did not intend to opt out of his contract in 2020. The Yankees were reportedly willing to pay $265 million for the privilege of employing him.
The Dodgers were forced to pivot. They could engage Miami about outfielder Marcell Ozuna. They could revisit Pittsburgh’s interest in trading former MVP
"You look around our team, there are not very many obvious areas to address," Friedman said. "That being said, of course we're still going to be opportunistic."