The New York Yankees missed out on a potential left field option on Friday morning when Michael Conforto signed with the San Francisco Giants on a two-year, $36 million contract. Good for Conforto. The Yankees were never paying that, and the Giants had no choice with the way their offseason has gone.
Naturally, that brought up questions about the Bombers’ left field situation, which has fans wondering what the plan will be for 2023. Bryan Reynolds? Ian Happ? Someone from the Diamondbacks? A cheap free agent like AJ Pollock? Hey, what about Giancarlo Stanton?!
Obviously, Stanton is far removed from his days as a full-time outfielder, but when asked about the slugger playing defense, manager Aaron Boone once again offered no hope for it being any sort of regularity next year regardless of his health status.
The man is locked into the DH role for eternity. We know that’s technically nothing new. But getting that reminder in December is just a bit upsetting when there’s hope for the situation to turn itself around, even a bit, heading into a new year.
Boone said the plan is to use Stanton on defense “in spurts,” in conjunction with Aaron Judge DH days (which probably won’t be often) as well as defender-friendly ballparks.
Don’t expect much defense from Giancarlo Stanton on the 2023 Yankees
So maybe a handful of games in right field at Yankee Stadium, since Judge just signed a $40 million AAV deal and the team won’t be taking his Gold Glove-caliber defense out of the equation during his prime years. And a handful of games on the road? In Houston? Boston? Maybe Toronto and Kansas City, too?
The options aren’t plentiful. And you can bet Stanton won’t be playing back-to-back days in the outfield because of the Yankees’ overall apprehension about one of their most important hitters suffering an injury.
Stanton was fully healthy back in 2018, his first year with the Yankees. He played just 72 games in the field (out of 158). He was injured in 2019 and 2020. Then came a fully healthy 2021, where he played just 26 games in the outfield. In 2022, he logged 38, all of which came in the first half because he injured his Achilles on a swing just before the All-Star break.
During his Yankees tenure, he’s been a two-way player for 149 games out of 448. In 2018, Judge missed 50 games and Stanton still logged more than half of his overall reps at DH.
As the years go by, it just seems more and more obvious the Yankees paid top dollar for Stanton with the intention of DHing him for 75% of the time over his 10 years in the Bronx. And so many fans just don’t understand it.