It feels like every week, there’s a headline that continues to hurt the emotions of Yankees fans and anger them even more.
The latest of these headlines revolved around former MVP Giancarlo Stanton and New York GM Brian Cashman. When asked about the power hitter at the MLB GM meetings, the veteran baseball executive had an interesting response about his player.
“We’ve gotta get Stanton up and running again,” Cashman said in Arizona. “He’s injury-prone. We all have lived and known that, but he’s never not hit when he’s playing, and this year is the first time that that’s happened.”
Starting off, the first part of this quote is completely fine. To express your want for your player to improve is perfectly fine, but the second part of this quote is where there’s a massive problem. Is what Cashman said wrong in any way? No, not at all. Since becoming a Yankee, Stanton has missed over 36% of his team’s games due to injury, according to Jelani Scott of Sports Illustrated. That number includes 61 games in 2023. As a player that’s being paid $118 million over four years, a number that doesn’t include a $25 million club option, that’s unacceptable.
But, for the Yankees GM to talk that way about his player does not help the situation at all, especially when you’re trying to get as much value out of a player that hasn’t performed up to his contract value at all. Fixing the situation with Stanton is not as simple as simply releasing him into free agency. It’s also not as simple as just trading him, as who wants a 34-year-old injury-prone player that is past his prime with an enormous contract? MLB general managers around the league certainly wouldn’t want to take that offer.
However, the offer is bigger than just Stanton himself. Everyone knows that to play in the Bronx, you have to have some pretty thick skin to get past all of the outside noise. However, it’s one thing for fans to be shouting general banter on gameday and it’s another for the GM of your team to criticize you in public when there’s simply no need. Who would want to play for an organization that says that about their own players?
It’s already begun to potentially affect the potential free agency decision of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, one of the top pitching options available to sign. With the possible departures of both Frankie Montas and Luis Severino, it’s clear that this squad needs some dependable starting pitching, and Yamamoto can certainly provide that. With a player of Yamamoto’s stature, money certainly won’t be an issue for the Yankees if they want to go all in for him.
Here’s where Stanton’s situation comes into play. Yamamoto’s agent, Joel Wolfe, is also the same agent that represents the Yankees power slugger. There is certainly a chance that Wolfe may discourage Yamamoto from going to the Bronx, especially after he put out a statement regarding Cashman’s comments.
“I read the context of the entire interview. I think it’s a good reminder for all free agents considering signing in New York both foreign and domestic that to play for that team you’ve got to be made of Teflon, both mentally and physically because you can never let your guard down even in the offseason,” stated Wolfe.
Is it really worth it for Yamamoto to go to a team that talks about its player so negatively when teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers could potentially offer similar money with less noise from outside media or even their own organization? It’s pretty clear that these comments could potentially deter free agents from signing with the Yankees, even beyond Yamamoto’s current free-agent battle. In the future, unless this squad wants to continue to be mediocre for the long term, they need to think before they speak. The organization simply can’t imitate its fans or they’ll continue to lose talent to other squads.