GLAD I GOT MINE!
Stanton happy he cashed in before free-agent mess
TAMPA — Giancarlo Stanton knows he had good timing. The Yankees’ slugger signed a 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins back in 2014, before the free-agent market started to slow down. He sees Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sitting out these first few days of spring training waiting for deals and he’s grateful for his contract.
“Yeah, big time,” Stanton said, “for sure.”
He added that, like other veteran players around the league, he sees issues that have to be addressed with the slow free-agent markets taking over baseball the last two winters. It’s been something of a shock for the players. Just three years ago, many were targeting this as the big-bucks winter for MLB. Machado and Harper were expected to break Stanton’s record contract.
“Nothing like what I’ve seen since I played, an offseason like this. So I think some issues there that need to be addressed,” Stanton said. “And in terms of the contract, if they break it, cool. I’ll be happy for them. Hopefully they can get signed….I don’t know what the deal is….”
As for now, with Stanton heading into his second season since the trade from Miami, fans are just hoping he can live up to the $26 million he will be making this year. He had a rough introduction last spring, and fans let him know he was a disappointment. Stanton began March and April slashing .230/.313/ .425 with five home runs and 15 RBI. He struck out 43 times in 113 at-bats.
He finished the season hitting .266/.343/.509 with 38 homers and 100 RBI, but also had 211 strikeouts, the second most in the big leagues.
Aaron Boone thinks that with more familiarity, after coming over from the National League East, Stanton will get off to a better start this season.
“One of the things with Giancarlo that we noticed, as we dug into things, especially (something) we were aware of last year, the more he sees a pitcher, he’s one of those guys that really benefits from that,” the Yankees manager said. “He gets pretty significant spikes across the board, more so than your normal person.
“As a hitter, the more you can see a pitcher, it helps the hitter a little more than a pitcher. In Giancarlo’s case, that’s proven out over the years,” Boone added. “Hopefully, just being more comfortable in the league. In the American League East again. I think that will be something that should help.”
Stanton said the boos last season did not bother him, but the tight left hamstring that he played with in the second half did.
“That wasn’t the best for me, my hamstring, but I wasn’t worried about that,” Stanton said. “If I could go out and produce or help us the slightest bit, I was going to be out there. But it was quite the factor.”
At the time, the Yankees had lost Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to the disabled list. Didi Gregorius was out of the lineup as well. Boone said that was when Stanton really earned the respect of his teammates and the organization by playing through discomfort.
“I don’t know necessarily about the (injured list), but there certainly would have been some more off days in there,” Boone said of how they would have handled the hamstring in ideal conditions. “We honestly went through a stretch of games where Judge and a couple of other guys were in and out of the lineup and a little banged up. I ended up using that DH spot for (Stanton), but he wasn’t coming out. …. I think that’s one of those things we kind of loved about him last year: his ability to post when he wasn’t perfect. His commitment to (playing) when he wasn’t perfect, but good enough to go.”
Stanton said his focus this year is trying to play a full, healthy season and getting the Yankees back to the playoffs. After eight seasons in the big leagues, 2018 was the first time Stanton experienced a pennant race and postseason.
That was the biggest difference for him coming from Miami.
“Not about learning anything, it was more just about playing games that matter, games where you were in it past May 7,” Stanton said. “That’s the biggest difference; every single game, win or losses are huge for a season.”