On July 31, 2003, the Yankees traded for Aaron Boone. He hit .254 with six home runs in the remaining two months of the regular season and, except for one well-timed home run, played quite poorly in the postseason. That well-timed home run came in his only at-bat of Game 7 of the ALCS, a game which he did not start. He hit it off Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the eleventh inning and it sent the Yankees to the World Series. Boone played for six teams in thirteen seasons in the Major Leagues, and only two months of that was spent as Yankee. His pennant-winning home run remains the single at-bat for which he is most remembered. It was his signature moment as a Yankee. Well, it was one of his two signature moments as a Yankee.
The other came on January 16, 2004, when he tore his ACL while playing a game of pickup basketball, which violated the terms of his contract. His injury left the Yankees without a third baseman, so they went out and traded for reigning American League MVP Alex Rodriguez. If Aaron Boone doesn’t get hurt playing basketball, Alex Rodriguez is a shortstop who helped the Red Sox win the 2004 World Series and Aaron Boone is a journeyman third baseman you don’t remember, save for that one home run. And if Boone doesn’t hit that home run, he’s a journeyman third baseman whose signature moment as a Yankee was violating his contract and isn’t even thought of as a candidate to be the Yankees’ manager.
Rodriguez was the first MVP to be traded after the season in which he won the award since the Baseball Writers’ Association of America began handing out MVP awards in 1931. The Yankees continue to be the only team in the business of trading for reigning MVPs, acquiring Giancarlo Stanton over the weekend. They’ll have to hope that Stanton follows Rodriguez’ lead in another way: staying healthy and actually playing 150 games more than twice in eight seasons. This trade with the Marlins was made much easier by the precedent set by the Rodriguez trade. Stanton’s manager will be the reason the Rodriguez trade happened in the first place.
It’s a funny game, baseball.