When the Yankees went balls to the wall in December of 2017 to acquire Giancarlo Stanton and pay him a 300 Million dollar contract that will likely keep him in New York until he retires, they were expecting the 2017 NL MVP who hit 59 homers and 132 RBIs. Instead they got someone who struck out 200 times in his inaugural season in Pinstripes, and couldn’t stay on the field in his second.
The hot start out of gate was promising for Yankee fans as Stanton hit .293 with 3 homers and an OPS of 1.038 and had a much better K/BB ratio than his previous Yankee seasons, until once again the injury bug hit. After going 2-3 with a solo HR and a walk in game 1 of today’s doubleheader against the Rays, Stanton had a much less fortunate game 2 as he injured his leg running the bases and left the game after scoring. After the game manager Aaron Boone gave the media and fans some disappointing, but familiar, news.
While it’s clear that when healthy Stanton is an other-worldly talent, staying healthy has proven to be a difficulty for Stanton, who has only played more than 130 games 4 times in his ten year career. In those 4 seasons he’s hit more than 30 homers each time, and surpassed 100 RBIs in 3 of the 4.
This injury won’t have a massive impact on the Yankees this year, as they’re head and shoulders above the AL East, and while there is no timetable for return yet this doesn’t have any indication of being a season-ender. However, this injury should leave the Yankees front office fairly uneasy as 325 million dollars is a massive contract to not be maximizing. Even when Stanton is healthy, the Yankees have been conservative with him. He hasn’t played the outfield this year out of caution, DHing every game he’s appeared in, but has still been hurt again despite the caution.
Stanton is only 30 years old and having these scary health issues, what will they be like when he’s making $25 million in his age 38 season. With more productive and younger Yankees like Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Gio Urshela coming up on their arbitration and free agency years, the Yankees have a lot of money being spent and a lot that still has to be spent. The Yankees can’t trade off Stanton’s massive contract if he continues to disappoint, backing them into a corner, and we’ve seen how quickly the Bronx can turn on players with massive contracts (i.e. ARod).
While this move reinvigorated the Yankees fan base after a few slow seasons, we may look back at this down the road with a much different feeling about the trade.