Yankees are set to pay out $70 million to players on the down-swing in 2024

mlb: boston red sox at new york yankees, giancarlo stanton
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are facing a financial conundrum, caught between the rock of high-paying contracts and the hard place of underperforming veterans. This year was a nightmare scenario—the team spent a fortune without seeing adequate returns on their investments. These bad contracts have now become massive financial burdens that are challenging to move due to trade clauses and underperformance.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, clearly needs to reconsider his approach to free-agent signings and big contract trades. After all, the majority of his recent deals have proven to be disastrous.

The Yankees Have a $70 Million Problem: Aging Stars and Their Contracts

Giancarlo Stanton: A Whopping $32 Million

Let’s start with the elephant in the room—Giancarlo Stanton. He still has $118 million left on his contract over the next four years, with $32 million slated for the 2024 season alone. Thanks to a contribution from the Miami Marlins, the Yankees are responsible for “just” $22 million per year for a player whose performance is waning.

Stanton, at 33, has a troubling stat line: a .205 batting average, a .287 OBP, 19 home runs, 49 RBIs, a 26.2% strikeout rate, a 99 wRC+, and a minuscule 0.1 WAR. His hard-hit rate remains consistent, but his two consecutive years of an on-base rate below 30% raises concerns. With limited defensive capabilities, Stanton’s inconsistent production is something the Yankees may have to endure.

Anthony Rizzo: $17 Million for Uncertainty

First baseman Anthony Rizzo’s 2023 season has been a rollercoaster. An unfortunate knee-to-head collision against the San Diego Padres triggered a performance drop, followed by concussion-like symptoms. Still, Rizzo is due $17 million next season, which counts as a $20 million hit against the luxury tax.

Rizzo’s stats offer a glimmer of hope, though. Before his injury, he had been a dependable asset for the Yankees. Even now, his season stats (.244 batting average, .328 OBP, 12 home runs, 41 RBIs, and 100 wRC+) suggest he could still be a valuable contributor, giving the Yankees some justification for his high paycheck.

DJ LeMahieu: $15 Million of Redeeming Potential

DJ LeMahieu’s subpar season is slightly mitigated by his recent performance, which suggests he might still be worth his $15 million price tag. His season statistics—.245 batting average, .325 OBP, 11 home runs, and 33 RBIs—are improving, bolstered by a two-home run performance against the Tampa Bay Rays.

LeMahieu has shown signs of turning things around, especially with his August stats (.321 batting average, .424 OBP, and .942 OPS). If this is an indication of what to expect in 2024, LeMahieu could yet justify his contract, which runs until the 2027 off-season.

Josh Donaldson: A $6 Million Goodbye

Though he won’t be donning the Yankee pinstripes next season, Josh Donaldson still demands a $6 million buyout from the team. The Yankees initially committed $50 million to him, expecting him to anchor third base for two years. Unfortunately, his disappointing stats—.142 batting average, .225 OBP, 10 home runs, and 15 RBIs—indicate that it’s time to cut losses.

Aaron Boone, the Yankees manager, announced Donaldson’s upcoming rehab assignment. Still, given his performance, any further involvement with the team would be a mistake that warrants a firing.

By scrutinizing these burdensome contracts, it’s clear that the Yankees need a radical shift in strategy moving forward. It’s not just about player performance; it’s also about making financially savvy decisions that lead to on-field success.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: