Yankees’ $98 million outfielder making major physical changes

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, giancarlo stanton
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees should experience a major uptick in offensive efficiency after adding Juan Soto this off-season, but a lot rides on the bounce-back performance of Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton may end up having the keys to an elite offense, but the 34-year-old has a lot of work to do to recover his groove. Stanton is coming off two disappointing seasons, hitting .211/.297/.462 in 2022, earning a 116 wRC+. This past year, Stanton played 101 games, hitting .191/.275/.420, including 24 home runs and 60 RBIs. These were the worst in his career, and Stanton knows he must perform at a much higher level if he wants to carry his weight.

The Yankees owe Stanton $98 million, which includes a $10 million buyout in 2028. If the front office could offload his salary now, it would’ve been done months ago, but the unfortunate reality is that the veteran slugger has a no-trade clause and is extremely difficult to move on from. The Yankees will likely have to wait out the duration of his deal, but that shouldn’t stop them from signing Soto to a long-term extension next off-season.

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The Yankees Are Praying For a Stanton Bounce-Back Season

Fortunately, Stanton is taking big steps to help improve his durability and athletic profile. Often regarded as a bodybuilder, Giancarlo is slimming down to improve his speed and help reduce injuries. Improving his flexibility should promote a lower probability of injury, which would include muscle strains.

Stanton has regressed in games played since 2012 (139 played). In fact, he’s only played over 130 games once in his last five seasons, so there’s an obvious trend suggesting the Yankees can’t depend on his service. Even general manager Brian Cashman went as far as to make that assessment publicly, challenging one of his most expensive acquisitions.

On the bright side, the addition of Soto and the return of Aaron Judge to full health should carry the batting order, taking a significant amount of pressure off Stanton to perform at a high level. With that weight off his shoulders, physically and figuratively, and the work he’s putting in to reduce injury probability, Stanton could bounce back next season, which would boost the offense significantly.