Yankees still owe $98 million to declining slugger: ‘I haven’t lost it’

mlb: houston astros at new york yankees, giancarlo stanton
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees find themselves in a monetary bind, with a whopping $98 million in luxury tax salary attached to Giancarlo Stanton. Having shelled out an adjusted salary of $32 million, along with a $22 million luxury tax hit for Stanton, this sum won’t see a reduction until he enters free agency in 2028.

If the Yankees decide against his club option in the concluding year of his agreement, they’d still owe him a $10 million buyout. This means they are set to invest both substantial time and resources in Stanton.

Recent Performance Woes

Stanton, aged 33, recently wrapped up one of the most disappointing seasons of his illustrious career. Once celebrated as a superstar, his recent stats paint a different picture: a batting average of .191, an OBP of .275, a slugging rate of .420, and figures like 24 homers, 60 RBIs, a 29.9% strikeout rate, a 9.9% walk rate, and an 89 wRC+.

For the first occasion in his professional journey, Stanton is now regarded as an underwhelming batsman. His faltering defensive capabilities, coupled with a slowing bat speed, only compound his challenges. Although the Yankees have some tough choices to make, Stanton remains optimistic about his prospects.

“I haven’t lost it, it’s still there,” the slugger said. “I have work to do this winter, but I know I’m going to find it. And it’s not going to require a major change (in mechanics). It’s only a few tweaks, as long as they’re the right tweaks.”

Yankees Looking Ahead: A Crucial Winter for Stanton

The approaching winter represents a pivotal phase for Stanton, who’s keen on rediscovering his golden touch. But the signs aren’t promising: his deteriorating bat speed and flawed swing decisions typically signify a player in decline. Merely two years ago, Stanton impressed with figures like .273 batting average and a .354 OBP across 139 matches. The ensuing descent in form has been both sharp and sudden. Given his hefty price tag, the Yankees face the dilemma of extracting worth from Stanton or potentially making the tough call of letting him go to free up a slot.

Drawing parallels, it’s worth noting that general manager Brian Cashman refrained from sidelining Josh Donaldson, despite his $25 million annual salary. Stanton’s situation echoes similarities. It’s implausible to sideline someone with Stanton’s earnings, so the Yankees are faced with a binary choice: persist with him or part ways.

While the outfield sees consistent performances from players like Aaron Judge and the promising Jasson Dominguez eyeing a regular spot, the ideal scenario for the Yankees would be to have a free DH position. This would allow them the luxury to bring aboard a talent like Joc Pederson, ensuring consistent offensive prowess.

The Yankees remain hopeful for a Stanton resurgence in 2024. But after witnessing two years of diminishing returns, banking on such a comeback is anything but a sure bet.

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