Briefly transport yourself back to late 2017, when the Yankees emerged out of nowhere to vault ahead of the pack and trade for the reigning National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs with his home games in a pitcher’s park and — ahem — was an outfielder.
Doesn’t it feel good? You gave up nothing but money! What a time to be alive.
Now? Well, Stanton doesn’t play the outfield so much anymore. And he doesn’t approach that home run total, despite being based in a launching pad in the Bronx. And he’s being out-OPS’d by Josh Harrison in 2021.
And, when he plays extended stretches of injury-free baseball, that usually comes to a crashing halt.
While it’s occasionally joyful to have Stanton in the starting lineup, he’s been good-not-great in 2021 and he’s only getting older. We’re not sure how his body will respond moving forward, and we don’t particularly enjoy the way it’s responding now.
We know how many fans would approach the 2017 mega-deal if they had a second shot at it, but what would Brian Cashman do? Michael Kay got the Yankees GM’s feet to the fire on Tuesday afternoon (after he finished dropping exceedingly annoying COVID news), and Cash didn’t exactly answer the question point blank.
Brian Cashman might just regret the Yankees’ trade for Giancarlo Stanton.
Is that a yes or a no, Brian? Blink twice for yes. You’re not on camera, it’s alright, we’ll just guess if you’re blinking or not.
Objectively, a franchise like the Yankees should be able to eat any massive contract, up to and including Stanton’s hefty bill of sale. These are the New York Yankees! They eat, sleep, breathe and print money.
But these Yankees have a different set of financial standards than George Steinbrenner’s bunch, and a lot of their luxury tax avoidance might never have occurred if they hadn’t slurped up over $22 million annually for Stanton — who, again, they anticipated would be more than just a DH with a higher OPS than Josh Rojas’ mark.
The mandate should be “get good players, ask questions later” if you have the financial might of the Yankees at your disposal, but seeing as how they’ve had to get more frugal than ever in the wake of accepting Stanton’s salary, you’d have to think Cashman wants to publicly regret the downturn in his nearly-32-year-old acquisition’s versatility.
The best version of Giancarlo Stanton is still an absolute beast who crushes exit velocity records with reckless abandon.
Unfortunately, that version hasn’t come out to play for several months, and Kay caught Cashman at his most vulnerable time with this question.
You’ll never get an admission of guilt out of the head honcho, but you might get a bit of skittishness these days.