Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton turns page on career-worst season

ByDavid Schoenfield ESPN logo
Monday, February 19, 2024

TAMPA, Florida --New York Yankeesdesignated hitter/outfielderGiancarlo Stanton says he has turned the page on a rough 2023 season and flushed it down the toilet.

"I gotta change the narrative," the 34-year-old told reporters on Monday, as Yankees position players reported to camp.

Stanton is coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .191/.275/.420 in 101 games and drawing criticism from general manager Brian Cashman, who told reporters that Stanton is "going to wind up getting hurt again, more likely than not, because it seems to be part of his game."

While the two have talked since then and Stanton said he's back on good terms with Cashman, he also bluntly added that Cashman "knows my reaction" to the comments.

Stanton was coming off a 59-homer season with the Marlins in 2017 when the Yankees acquired him to pair alongside Aaron Judge, but he has never come close to that kind of production in his six seasons with the Yankees. While he has three 30-homer seasons, including 2021 (35) and 2022 (31), he has also battled injuries, missing nearly all of the 2019 season and averaging 117 games the past three years, with a hamstring injury knocking him for 43 games in 2023.

"I have to stay on the field," Stanton said. "The start/stopping is not ideal. I need to play and not be on the sidelines."

Stanton said he has lost weight -- he wouldn't say how much -- and it was a mutual decision for him to report to camp lighter. While he's likely to get most of his time at designated hitter, manager Aaron Boone said last week that he still wants Stanton to remain agile enough to use him occasionally in the outfield.

With the additions of outfielders Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham to go with Judge, Stanton's regular spot in the lineup may not even be guaranteed. The Yankees' best defensive alignment would feature Grisham in center, Judge in right and Verdugo in left with Soto at DH, but even if Stanton is the regular DH, there will be days Boone will want to give Judge and Soto days off from the field.

Stanton still has four years remaining on a 13-year, $325 million contract he originally signed with the Marlins and will make $32 million in 2024. The Yankees can only hope he'll come closer to earning that salary than he did last season.

Stanton's strikeout rate of 29.9% was high, although right in line with his percentages since joining the Yankees. His batting average on balls in play fell from .324 in 2021 to .210 in 2023, contributing to the sub-.200 average. At his best, he regularly hit over .300 against four-seam fastballs, but he hit just .200 against them last season.

"It's not a rebuild of confidence. It's a big stack of things that weren't aligned, and this is a new year and after this I'm not talking about last year too much," he said. "I don't get paid to be a stand-up guy. I'm here to produce and help us win a championship."