While the Yankees have thankfully brought in new conditioning staff who have modified exercise regimens, there is still a good chance that stints on the IL will likely continue for often-injured Bomber players, negatively affecting the team’s overall performance.
If you take a trip through my mind right now, you will see images of outstanding Yankee players who recently have spent significant amounts of time on and off the IL.
You also will discover my disappointment that such injuries have consistently taken place, especially over the last two years.
Frequent and sometimes lengthy stints on the IL by critical players have prevented the club from reaching and winning the World Series.
This is probably why the Yankee brass smartly decided not to re-sign James Paxton (who is now back with the Seattle Mariners).
Four elite players loom large in this regard. Giancarlo Stanton, who is likely to spend most of his time as a DH this coming season, spent a total of 202 days injured and unable to play in 2019 and 2020. He will receive a cool $29 million from the Yanks in 2021, and he is due millions more in the coming years.
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Gary Sanchez was parked on the IL for 40 days at different junctures during the 2019 season and spent considerable time on the bench with a groin injury in the shortened 2020 season. Unfortunately, when he was in the lineup, he performed poorly. Despite Sanchez’s frequent health issues and disappointing performance, the Bombers took a risk and tendered the Kraken a $6.35 million contract for this coming season.
Aaron Hicks‘ career has been marred by frequent stints on the IL due to a wide variety of non-surgery baseball injuries (e.g., back pain, shoulder bursitis, hamstring strain, right oblique strain, etc.). In late Oct. 2019, he successfully underwent Tommy John surgery, but the effects lingered a bit longer.
The Yanks signed Hicks to a seven-year contract extension worth $70 million, including a club option for an eighth year, in Feb. 2019. If his past health record is any indication, one can expect him to continue to spend significant amounts of time on the IL while a Yankee.
Finally, Aaron Judge, who will be paid $10,785,714 this coming season, was out for two months with an oblique strain in 2019. He then missed time during Spring Training with a stress fracture in his ribs, and lost another two 10-day periods with a right calf strain during the abbreviated 2020 season.
No doubt the Bombers will soon have to reach even deeper into their wallet and offer Judge a long-term, fully-loaded contract if they want to retain him. This will be a challenging decision for the club given the star’s frequent visits to the IL and his ability to be one of the best players in MLB IF he can remain healthy.
These four premier players have been injured regularly over time, and it is a good bet that this situation is likely to continue in the future. They also get paid lots of money by the Yanks. It is time for the Bombers to seriously consider trading them for excellent players who are much less injury-prone and will help the team win another World Series.
Here are my trade options to replace these four consistently injured players.