When the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton after the 2017 season, it was a wildly popular move.
After dealing with injuries in 2019 and 2020, there was a sentiment that the trade was a mistake. After staying healthy for the majority of 2021 and producing at a high level, the perception is starting to swing back the other way.
Part of the reason that the negative perception exists is that there is some nuance to how much money the Yankees are paying Stanton. When the trade was made, the Marlins agreed to pay some of the salaries, and because of this part of the deal, Stanton costs $22 million on the luxury tax payroll every year for the rest of his contract.
This is a reasonable price for a player who is on a Hall of Fame pace and consistently hits for a 130 wRC+ or higher.
To illustrate this, let’s look at some of the contracts that have been handed out over the last couple of days.
Corey Seager is a similar talent as a hitter and an average fielding shortstop who will be moving off of that position at some point. He got a 10 year $325 million contract from the Texas Rangers, which gives him an average annual value of $32.5 million.
More than $10 million a year than Stanton is getting paid by the Yankees. Is Seager worth more money than Stanton? Yes, but not that much more.
Another example is Javier Báez, who signed a 6 year $140 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. Báez is a good player and a nice pickup for Detroit, but he has hit below a 100 wRC+ in five of his eight seasons and only topped a 130 wRC+ one time in 2018. Báez brings strong defense at shortstop but considering all of these factors; many would not guess that he is getting paid more every year than the Yankees are paying Stanton.
That thought would be wrong. Báez’s contract is worth an average annual value of $23.3m, more than the $22 million Stanton gets from New York.
Stanton’s contract goes through 2027 with a club option for 2028, so that is where people may point to as an argument for the trade being bad. If Stanton helps the Yankees win a championship in the next couple of years, the back end of the contract will be much more palatable though, just like CC Sabathia’s contract.
This goes to show that large contracts can look a lot better as time goes on because free agents are getting paid more each offseason. This can be related to the current market as well and should be something the Yankees keep in mind.
People mention that the Yankees already have money tied up in Gerrit Cole, DJ LeMahieu, and Stanton while still needing to extend Aaron Judge. But what I described above is why the Stanton deal should not be described as this mega-contract anymore. LeMahieu’s should not be included in that category as well because he gets paid just $15 million a year.
Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and everyone involved in roster decisions should look at how the Stanton contract is aging before worrying about adding a player like Correa.
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