New York Yankees‘ General Manager Brian Cashman has openly acknowledged the challenges surrounding veteran outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, particularly his propensity for injuries. This acknowledgment indicates a shift in how the Yankees plan to manage Stanton’s role moving forward.
Stanton has now experienced back-to-back bad seasons with the Yankees, hitting .211 with a .297 OBP in 2022 and .191 with a .275 OBP in 2023. His strikeout rate ballooned to 30%, his walk rate dropped below double digits for the first time since 2018, and his wRC+ was 89, indicating he was 11% worse than the average MLB player.
For the first time in his career, Stanton had a negative WAR and was more of a liability than a positive contributor to a Yankee team that suffered through one of their worst campaigns in a decade.
Contractual Obligations and Limitations
The Yankees are contractually obligated to pay Stanton a significant sum, with a buyout clause available in 2028. They owe him $98 million in luxury tax salary and a $10 million buyout. The challenge lies in Stanton’s decreasing on-field contribution and the difficulty of finding a trade partner due to his high contract value and diminishing performance. Stanton’s role as a designated hitter has been questioned, considering the possibility of having a more impactful player in that position.
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Cashman’s Acknowledgment of Reality
Cashman’s statement in Arizona was candid about Stanton’s situation, via Gary Phillips of the NYDN: “He’s injury-prone. We all have lived and known that, but he’s never not hit when he’s playing, and this year is the first time that that’s happened.” This admission sets a tone of realism for how the Yankees perceive Stanton’s role and contributions moving forward.
Stanton’s Diminished Defensive Role
Stanton’s decreasing innings in the outfield further complicates his role on the team. His defensive metrics have also declined, suggesting that limiting his time on the field might be a strategy to preserve his health. However, Cashman recognizes that injury is likely inevitable:
“We try to limit the time he’s down,” Cashman said. “But I’m not gonna tell you he’s gonna play every game next year because he’s not. He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game. But I know that when he’s right and healthy – other than this past year – the guy’s a great hitter and has been for a long time.”
Exploring Options for Stanton
The Yankees might consider a salary dump trade for Stanton, though this would likely require pairing him with prospects to make the deal more attractive. With the financial resources at their disposal, the Yankees could absorb the salary impact while seeking other talents to bolster their lineup.
The Potential Impact of Juan Soto
Acquiring a player like Juan Soto could alleviate some of the pressure on Stanton and provide a reliable offensive force, especially during Aaron Judge’s absences. Redirecting the focus to a new star player could also benefit Stanton mentally, as he faces significant criticism from fans.
In summary, the Yankees are grappling with the reality of Stanton’s injury history and underperformance, exploring various strategies to maximize his contributions while considering the financial and roster implications of his situation.