Three years ago Friday, the Yankees pulled off the trade to get Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.
He’s still owed $218 million over the remaining seven years of his contract and the Yankees are on the hook for $188 million, with Miami paying the remaining $30 million over the course of the final three seasons of the deal.
While Stanton showed how dangerous he can be during the postseason, the contract hangs over the team, especially in the wake of the economic fallout from the COVID pandemic.
And as the Yankees wait to learn whether DJ LeMahieu returns as a free agent and how that will affect the rest of their offseason, general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that “huge commitments” limit what they’re able to do on the market.
“Certainly, there’s a lot more discussions and things to navigate,’’ Cashman said on the YES Network Thursday in regards to how the pandemic impacted the team’s ability to spend. “Since we’ve made a huge commitment to others already, it affects your flexibility and viability as you move forward. Every step taken needs to be carefully worked through.”
That includes holding off until LeMahieu makes a decision before making other significant moves.
In addition to the $29 million they’re paying Stanton in 2021, last offseason’s major acquisition, Gerrit Cole, is set to make $36 million. After Cole and Stanton, Aroldis Chapman is the next highest-paid Yankee, at $15 million for next year.
Even at this early stage of the offseason, Cashman insisted the Yankees would have the sport’s highest payroll.
“We will be the number one payroll, regardless of anything [that] happens,’’ Cashman said. “Ultimately, we have a team that we feel can compete for a World Championship. It does need some additional help with that. That would include DJ’s return, we hope, along with some other opportunities.”
While Cashman expressed a desire to keep LeMahieu, he was silent on the prospects of retaining Masahiro Tanaka, saying MLB and the Players Association prohibits executives from speaking about free agents.
But there has been little buzz about bringing Tanaka back, as well as the possibility of signing the premier pitcher on the open market, Trevor Bauer.
It was just a year ago they signed Cole to the most expensive contract ever for a pitcher at nine years and $324 million and then the Yankees — along with the rest of the league — was blindsided by the pandemic.
Beyond Cole, though, the Yankees lack depth in the rotation, with Cashman leaving open the possibility of not making any moves to augment the staff — although he didn’t rule it out.
“If I can add to our pitching, we will,” Cashman said.
For now, it will have to wait.