New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton said late teammate Jose Fernandez predicted he would win MVP someday and even said the two would be teammates in New York if things didn't work out in Miami.
"He said, 'If this doesn't work out down here (in Miami), I'm going to be a free agent and I'm going to be with the Yankees, and I'm taking you with me,'" Stanton told those gathered at the Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner Sunday night in Manhattan. "Now that I'm here, I'm going to take a little piece of him and bring it with me."
Stanton was on hand to accept his NL MVP award and appeared alongside new teammate Aaron Judge, who was awarded the AL Rookie of the Year.
Fernandez died Sept. 25, 2016, in a boating accident at age 24.
Viewed as the cornerstones of the Miami Marlins franchise, Fernandez and Stanton were also close friends.
Stanton hit .281/.376/.631 with 59 home runs and 132 runs batted in last season. His 59 home runs were the most in MLB since Sammy Sosa hit 64 and Barry Bonds set the single-season record with 73 in 2001. The Marlins shipped him to New York in exchange for second baseman Starlin Castro and prospects in December as part of their full-scale rebuilding effort.
Former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter now partially owns the club and controls the Marlins' baseball operations.
"This has been an amazing ride," Stanton said. "I'm excited to be here in New York and experience the big city and bright lights...[Fernandez] was a big factor in achieving this and doing something special for him, that was a big part of this season."