Yankees should do everything in their power to offload $98 million outfielder

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

In an ideal scenario, the New York Yankees would find a way to unload Giancarlo Stanton and his burdensome contract, which, alarmingly, doesn’t conclude until 2028. That year, the team faces a club option with a $10 million buyout.

Stanton’s looming $98 million luxury tax salary complicates the Yankees’ financial landscape. Coupled with his no-trade clause, his contract presents a near-insurmountable hurdle. Nonetheless, the team’s focus should be on exploring every conceivable avenue, including a possible contract swap or even sacrificing a prospect to free up their budget.

Potential Deals: Swapping Stanton?

Speculation abounds that the Yankees could engage the San Diego Padres in trade talks, particularly if discussions around acquiring Juan Soto gain traction. An intriguing proposal might involve trading Stanton for Jake Cronenworth, whose seven-year, $80 million contract with San Diego runs through 2030.

Though Cronenworth’s contract extends two years beyond Stanton’s, his financial impact is significantly lighter. At 29, Cronenworth remains in his athletic prime, whereas 33-year-old Stanton is arguably approaching his career decline. This exchange could represent a mutually beneficial arrangement, granting the Yankees some much-needed fiscal breathing room.

Analyzing Cronenworth’s and Stanton’s Performances

In the season just passed, Cronenworth logged 127 games, showcasing his versatility with substantial stints at both second and first base. Despite a right wrist fracture in August, he will fortunately sidestep surgery. His season statistics stood at a .229 average, a .312 OBP, and a .378 slugging percentage, with contributions of 10 home runs, 48 RBIs, and a 92 wRC+. These figures marked a downturn from his more impressive 2021 performance.

In contrast, Stanton’s recent output underscores why the Yankees might be anxious for a change. He ended the season with a .191 average, a .275 OBP, and a .420 slugging percentage, contributing 24 home runs and 60 RBIs, but with a concerning 29.9% strikeout rate. Despite hopes within the organization for a resurgence in 2024, caution prevails given his deteriorating bat speed and questionable decision-making at the plate.

Yankees Strategic Moves: Building Around Core Talent

Offloading Stanton could provide the Yankees with increased capital to bolster the squad surrounding stars like Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole. Furthermore, acquiring a player like Cronenworth, capable of consistent double-digit home run seasons, could solidify their infield for the foreseeable future, post Anthony Rizzo.

Navigating this financial and strategic quagmire is no small feat for the Yankees and Stanton alike. The potential deal’s success hinges on Stanton’s willingness to waive his no-trade clause. However, the allure of San Diego’s favorable climate and competitive standing might just sway his decision.

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