One of the undeniable realities facing the New York Yankees is the number of older players on their roster saddled with burdensome contracts. The recent signing of Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $360 million contract is likely to become a financial weight in the future, even though he’s currently in his prime and consistently delivering MVP-level performances.
Struggling Veteran Players: Stanton, LeMahieu, and Donaldson
Contracts belonging to Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson have transformed into liabilities due to their lackluster performance this season. Stanton’s deal includes a no-trade clause, meaning moving his $32 million per season contract is probably not an option.
Nevertheless, trading DJ LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson could be a viable way to free up some payroll this season, especially if the Yankees aim to acquire a player with a substantial remaining contract.
It’s realistic to expect the Yankees to shoulder the remainder of Donaldson’s annual $21 million salary this year. Despite his current .152 batting average, a .232 OBP, and 10 home runs, Manager Aaron Boone remains confident in the 37-year-old veteran’s ability to contribute positively. Without his power-hitting metrics, Donaldson’s performance would be far from a league-average offensive player. His 85 wRC+ signifies he is 15% less effective than the average player.
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Potential Roster Moves: Offloading Donaldson and LeMahieu
However, if the Yankees stumble upon a trade deal that would allow them to unload Donaldson’s hefty salary and clear a roster spot for Oswald Peraza at third base, the team could be in a more advantageous position.
LeMahieu, 35, is under contract until the end of the 2027 season. The utility player, who has consistently delivered strong performances, will earn $15 million per season until then.
This season, however, LeMahieu’s .220 batting average, .285 OBP, seven home runs, and 27 RBIs are a significant drop from his usual statistics. This is the first time since 2018 that he’s recorded a wRC+ below 100, which suggests that his prime years might be behind him.
If the Yankees could orchestrate a trade that offloaded his salary, the freed-up financial room could lead to a positive outcome.
Looking Forward: Persisting with Donaldson and LeMahieu
The more likely scenario is that both Donaldson and LeMahieu will continue playing for the Yankees, receiving regular opportunities to salvage their seasons.
With the recent hiring of new hitting coach Sean Casey, the team hopes to enhance each player’s mental approach to hitting. Casey’s emphasis on reducing “tension” could significantly benefit some of the team’s players. The Yankees’ future, however, remains to be seen.