In yet another bit of unwelcome injury news for the Yankees, manager Aaron Boone told reporters Wednesday that Giancarlo Stanton sustained a calf injury while working in the outfield yesterday (Twitter link via Joel Sherman of the New York Post). Stanton has already undergone an MRI, which revealed a Grade 1 strain in his ailing right calf. Boone suggested that Stanton will “be down for a bit” and implied that the slugger could miss time early in the season.
If the mounting rash of injuries in Yankees camp are beginning to feel familiar, that’s probably because the New York organization endured similar health struggles in 2019. The Yankees have already lost James Paxton for at least the first month of the season due to back surgery and lost Luis Severino for the year due to Tommy John surgery. Right fielder Aaron Judge has also been slowed by shoulder troubles so far and has yet to get into a Grapefruit League.
The Yankees can still lean on an alignment of Judge, Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman. Stanton figures to rotate between the outfield corners and the designated hitter slot, the latter of which could now be filled more regularly by Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford in Stanton’s absence. If Stanton is indeed on the IL to open the season, that could increase Clint Frazier’s chances of opening the season on the Major League club.
Stanton, acquired in December 2017, enjoyed a strong ’18 campaign with the Yankees when he hit .266/.343/.509 with 38 homers. Biceps and knee injuries limited Stanton to just 18 regular season games in 2019, and the 2020 season isn’t off to a much better start. At this point, it’s not clear that Stanton will miss much of the regular season, but a Grade 1 strain is the least severe degree of strain. Barring setbacks, it shouldn’t be a long-term issue, and he could have time to ramp back up for a productive year.
The 30-year-old Stanton is being paid $26MM in 2020 under the terms of the then-record 13-year, $325MM deal he signed with the Marlins prior to the 2015 season. He’ll have the opportunity to opt out of his contract at the end of the 2020 season, although it’s extraordinarily difficult to envision him walking away from the remaining seven years and $218MM he’d be owed from 2021-27.