Giancarlo Stanton was a good player in his first season with the Yankees, but his contract might cause Brian Cashman to deal him this winter.
Most players who hit 38 home runs and drive in 100 runs in their first season with a new team can feel pretty good about their chances of returning to the team for a second season. Clearly, the New York Yankees operate differently than most MLB franchises. It’s entirely possible his long-term contract may cause the team to work to trade him this winter.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe specifically mentions the Dodgers and Giants as two teams who might be interested in taking the high-priced slugger off of the Yankees hands. Of course, any team that wants to acquire Stanton will need to take on the massive contract he’s still owed. The power-hitting outfielder is signed through 2028 in a deal that won’t pay him any less than $25 million in a single season. He’s signed for 10 more seasons at a total larger than $260 million.
While Stanton hit for serious power in his first season in the Bronx, his poor postseason performance soured many fans about his chances of really becoming a superstar for the franchise. His penchant for strikeouts didn’t help either. Stanton struck out 211 times in 705 regular season plate appearances in 2018.
The motivation for the Yankees to explore Stanton’s market is pretty clear. First, Cashman and company are legitimately contracted about the outfielder’s ability to produce results as he ages. He was already used almost exclusively as a designated hitter last season. Stanton can play right field at an adequate level, but Aaron Judge owns that position. Paying that sort of premium for a DH for the better part of a decade isn’t an efficient use of funds for the Yankees.
Stanton’s presence on the roster also inhibits the Yankees ability to really pursue Bryce Harper in free agency. The idea of paying Stanton, Harper, and eventually Judge all massive deals in the same outfield is difficult for the team’s front office to swallow. Moving Stanton’s deal off the books would drastically increase the chances of Harper making his way to the Bronx.
Moving Stanton’s salary could also improve the team’s position to land Manny Machado. The two don’t overlap in terms of position, but Machado is going to require a contract even larger than what Stanton’s already committed to. In particular, Cashman might be willing to give Machado the length of contract he reportedly desires if he wasn’t already locked into such a long-term deal with Stanton.
In the end, the Yankees are going to find it very difficult to find a palatable deal for Stanton. Any team interested in taking him on is going to try to acquire him without giving up any meaningful asset in return since they’d be taking on such a large contract.
Cashman and the Yankees front office might find it difficult to move a big name player for nothing. As such, it’s very likely Stanton will remain a member of the team for years to come. Finding a trade partner for Stanton isn’t impossible, but it is highly unlikely.