The left field position battle is one of the more exciting challenges the New York Yankees face during spring training. General manager Brian Cashman has already named the primary three competitors, Aaron hicks, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Estevan Florial. However, there may be a surprise fourth that could push for more defensive reps, despite injury issues holding him back.
Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton is expected to help mitigate fatigue in right field, but manager Aaron Boone didn’t rule him out as a serious option in left, which is interesting since he barely played any defensive innings in 2022. Specifically, he enjoyed just 312.2 innings last season after recording 199.2 in 2021 and 95 in 2019. His ability to manage an outfield spot has quickly dissipated after enjoying 1312.1 with the Miami Marlins in 2017.
“I think he’s gonna be primarily our DH more than anyone else, but my hope is that the outfield is very much in play,” Boone said on Friday, per the New York Post.
The Yankees wish they could get Giancarlo Stanton’s true value:
Ideally, a player the Yankees are paying $35+ million per season could offer some defensive reps, but clearly, that isn’t the case. Boone is still optimistic Stanton can help smooth over a position battle that could end in disarray but will surely result in a platoon.
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Last year, Stanton enjoyed 110 games of action, accruing 452 plate appearances. He hit .211 with a .297 OBP, some of the worst numbers in his entire career. He still managed to slap 31 homers with 78 RBIs, meaning he would’ve likely broken 40 if not for a calf injury shutting him down for large chunks of the season.
Anticipating a bounce-back campaign, Stanton is 100% healthy and should offer the team his normal slugging capabilities, but taking over some reps in the outfield would expand upon his value.
Nonetheless, the Yankees know exactly what they have in Stanton in LF but are still willing to give Cabrera and Florial opportunities to make their mark. If Hicks can’t resurrect his offensive contributions, he may end up being the fourth outfielder and playing a reserve role to help mitigate fatigue.
Obviously, offloading hi $10.5 million may be more efficient, reallocating his salary to help other positions, but the question remains, who is willing to take him off the books at his price tag after several down seasons?