Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton trade can no longer be salvaged by his 2020 postseason


Giancarlo Stanton opted into his contract at the end of the 2020 season, which put the New York Yankees on the hook for seven years and $188 million ($218 million in total, but the Miami Marlins will be paying them $30 million over the final three years of his deal).

Even with that subtraction, Stanton’s AAV is $26.8 million. To be a designated hitter. On a team that’s full of hitters that do the exact same thing he does; either walk, strike out, or hit a home run.

Though Stanton’s debut season with the Bombers in 2018 was great, that was a long time ago. And that year in the postseason he failed to show up against the Boston Red Sox.

Since the end of that campaign, the slugger has played in a total of 54 out of a possible 265 games. Through his first 11 games in 2021 he’s hitting .176/.236/.373. And he’s not playing the field at all.

He rarely provides tough at-bats. In fact, over his last 52 games, he’s seen an average of 4.3 pitches per plate appearance. His swing plane only allows him to hit pitches right over the middle of the plate. He struggles mightily with off-speed stuff. He’s constantly off-balance in the batter’s box.

It wasn’t the worst trade in the world, but it certainly wasn’t a great one. And it’s time Yankees fans officially accept it. Paying an ineffective DH $26.8 million per year when you could have another $200 million starting pitcher, which is a much greater need right now, is a gross misuse of finances.

Stanton’s epic performance in the 2020 postseason can no longer save him. He’ll need to significantly shift his narrative if he wants Brian Cashman’s blockbuster deal to be viewed favorably.

Stanton went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. He failed to come through with runners in scoring position when the Yankees were mounting a comeback attempt. Though he walked and hit a homer on Sunday, the Yankees lost and he struck out in his two other at-bats which featured situations the team badly needed a hit.

But let’s forget about performance for a second. After all, we’re looking at a tremendously small sample size over the last two years … but that’s exactly been the problem.

Stanton’s injury troubles have really made this trade a strain on the Yankees. And it’s not like Cashman and Co. had no knowledge of this. Stanton’s been injured quite often throughout his career with the Marlins before arriving in New York. Out of his seven full seasons before becoming a Yankee, Stanton played in 140 or more games just three times due to various ailments.

In theory, it seemed like an incredible idea to pair the reigning NL MVP with Aaron Judge, who was the AL runner up that very same year. But perhaps the Yankees didn’t realize that upping the stakes and putting Stanton in the bright lights of New York would change a lot. Though his Marlins career was sensational, he was largely playing out of the spotlight on a team that was never contending.

The moment he arrived in New York, his strikeout total skyrocketed. His 211 Ks in 2018 across 158 games with the Yankees was a career-high, with the next closest number being 170 across 145 games in 2014.

This, by the way, isn’t an indictment on Stanton’s play. It’s more so one on the Yankees front office for acquiring a redundant player at an exorbitant price after he had already peaked.

Though Stanton slashed an unthinkable .316/.381/1.000 with four runs scored, four home runs and 10 RBI in five ALDS games against the Rays in 2020 (and dominated against the Indians in the Wild Card round), the Yankees lost that series against Tampa. Performances in losing efforts don’t really carry any weight in New York. And five games surely isn’t going to salvage the last three-plus years, which have had a lot more bad times than good.