Yankees rotation may not be complete yet

The Yankees Must Assume That Giancarlo Stanton Will Fail

The Yankees' veteran DH Giancarlo Stanton showed up to spring training in Tampa with a notable new look. He’s revamped his batting stance, and he’s slimmer than Yankee fans have ever seen him. These obvious changes have sparked some optimism that Big G (or should he now be called Medium G?) is on the brink of a redemption arc. Yankee fans should all hope so because last season was pretty dismal.

In 2023, Stanton finished with a woeful, career-worst .695 OPS. He suffered another hamstring injury in April, the latest in a long line of ailments (foot, achilles, calf, quad, you name it). In November, Yankees' GM Brian Cashman said of Stanton: “He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game.” One can interpret from Stanton’s subsequent, terse response to this quote that he was displeased with Cashman’s remarks, but Cashman was only stating the obvious.

Few question Stanton’s work ethic, and fewer still doubt his will to win, but with years of subpar performance coupled with nagging injuries, the unfortunately realistic possibility is that no batting stance tweaks, nor changes in diet, can save Stanton from decline. Spring training stats might not matter much, but in ten ABs thus far, Giancarlo has only gotten one hit while testing his new stance. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of evidence to back that a trimmed down physique improves player performance. In fact, losing weight has a history of sinking players’ careers.

If at some point this season, the Yankees find themselves relying on Stanton’s bat to help carry their lineup, they’re in deep trouble.

Stanton’s contract is colossal, so the Yankees aren’t eager to entertain the possibility of eating it. He will make a whopping $32 million this year, and he’s on the books until at least 2027, when he’ll be 37 years old. This season may be Medium G’s last chance to prove he’s an asset to a team that would love to have an effective DH.

Imagine a world in which Stanton is somewhere in the range of an .850-.900 OPS, as he was from 2018 until 2021. It would be a delight watching him hit cleanup after Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, but the Yanks cannot hope for the best. Rather, they must anticipate the worst: another disappointing, possibly even career-ending Stanton season.

So what if Stanton doesn’t work out?

To help mitigate this possibility, the Yankees should consider adding a bat to their bench. Kiké Hernandez recently said that his top free agency choices were New York and LA (he ultimately signed with the Dodgers). This is a sign that Cashman may not be satisfied with his bench. Needless to say, the longer the spring season drags out without any front office movement, the less options he’ll have to improve it.

In the end, everyone who wants the Yankees to win also prays for a Giancarlo comeback. Unfortunately, however, wishing upon a star isn't a proven strategy. The Bombers need to add another bat to their bench, and they need to anticipate the real chance of Stanton leaving a gaping hole to fill in the lineup.

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