Any hope the Yankees had of financial flexibility has been dashed. Giancarlo Stanton won’t be opting out of his massive contract this offseason.
The Yankees didn’t give up much talent to acquire Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. What the franchise did was agree to take on his massive, long-term contract. Some New York officials might have hoped that Stanton was going to free the franchise from that obligation this offseason.
Unfortunately for Brian Cashman and his front office, Stanton isn’t going to bail the team out. Sources tell MLB.com that the veteran slugger has “no plans” to opt-out of his contract after the conclusion of the 2020 season. That means the Yankees are still on the hook for $128 million over the next seven years.
Stanton’s decision is also bad news for the Marlins. As a part of their original agreement with New York, Miami is now on the hook for $30 million. They must provide that amount of cash to the Yankees before the conclusion of the 2028 season.
The Yankees front office can’t be surprised at Stanton’s decision to honor his current contract, but they might be disappointed. Cashman has worked hard to lower his team’s payroll to avoid punitive luxury tax penalties from MLB. Paying Stanton over $29 million per season for the majority of the next decade is going to greatly reduce the team’s financial flexibility.
Stanton’s inability to stay healthy for any extended period of time makes this a poor investment for the Yankees. He missed almost all of the 2019 season due to injury and a hamstring strain cost him a healthy portion of his 2020 campaign as well. Concerns about his durability also relegate Stanton to the DH position for the vast majority of his appearances.
Don’t expect the Yankees to stop spending money in free agency as a result of Stanton’s decision, but it could reduce the number of players available to Cashman for the foreseeable future. In the end, the Yankees just have to hope that Stanton gives them reasonable value for as long as he can. The deal is going to be a massive overpay at some point. New York hopes that isn’t already the case.