Yankees are trapped paying $118 million to declining veteran slugger

mlb: milwaukee brewers at new york yankees, giancarlo stanton

Ten days ago, Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees hit his landmark 400th home run. While this milestone earned him some much-needed respect from fans who had previously booed him for striking out, it also put a magnifying glass on Stanton’s 2023 performance. Far from being the power-hitting asset the Yankees had hoped for, the high-priced veteran is becoming a financial and strategic quandary for a team in need of young talent and fiscal efficiency.

Yankees Ownership’s Decision: Steinbrenner’s Strategy to Hold Off on Trades

Owner Hal Steinbrenner intervened during the trade deadline to halt any further actions by general manager Brian Cashman. Faced with the choice of being buyers or sellers, the Yankees’ front office ultimately decided to keep the roster intact. Steinbrenner’s vision is to develop a more effective strategy during the off-season.

Stanton’s Performance: An Offensive and Defensive Liability

The problem with the Yankees’ current situation is that Stanton remains a dual liability, both offensively and defensively. Though the 33-year-old slugger has managed to stay relatively healthy during the latter half of this year, his offensive output hasn’t enjoyed the usual spike that comes with consistent at-bats.

For the first time in his career, Stanton is likely to finish the season with a wRC+ below 100, making him a below-average offensive player. His current -0.5 WAR figure is especially hard to justify, given his staggering financial commitments.

Stanton’s Contract: A Financial Burden

Let’s talk numbers. Stanton is owed $118 million over the next four seasons, not to mention a 2028 club option with a $10 million buyout. That places his financial obligation closer to $128 million. While the Miami Marlins do pay around $10 million of his annual salary—lowering his luxury tax number—the contract remains a significant strain for minimal production.

A Comparative Analysis: Stanton’s Dismal Stats

If you thought last season was an outlier for Stanton, 2023 has proven to be even more disheartening. With a batting average of .196, a .281 OBP, 23 home runs, and 57 RBIs over 92 games, he’s lagging in every possible metric. His defensive contributions are also negligible; he’s clocked just 252.1 innings in the outfield, recording -3 defensive runs saved and -2 outs above average.

Clutch Performance: The Missing Link

Another area of concern is Stanton’s performance in clutch situations. With only a .215 batting average and a .300 OBP over 79 at-bats with runners in scoring position (RISP), he’s hardly the reliable clean-up hitter the Yankees need. Most of his 18 other home runs this season have been solo shots—a team-wide issue, but one that Stanton was acquired to remedy.

The No-Trade Clause: A Future with Stanton?

As for any whispers about trading Stanton, his contract includes a no-trade clause. The Yankees would likely have to offer additional assets just to unload his cumbersome contract. So, the best-case scenario might just be hoping Stanton regains his form, providing some sort of return on an investment that, so far, has fallen woefully short of expectations.

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