Yankees: On The Albatross Of Stanton’s Contract And Bobby Bonilla

Giancarlo Stanton - Frustration Felt Everywhere (NY Times)

One way or another, the Yankees must find a way to relieve the team of Giancarlo Stanton’s contract. Why not at least explore this approach?

To no one’s surprise, last week, the Yankees learned that Giancarlo Stanton elected not to opt-out of his contract, ensuring he will be wearing the pinstripes through the 2028 season.

Yankees Brian Cashman - Judge and Stanton - A Real Head Scratcher (upi.com)
Yankees Brian Cashman – Judge and Stanton – A Real Head Scratcher (upi.com)

Between now and then, Hal Steinbrenner will sign checks issued to Stanton, totaling $200 million. By 2028, Stanton will be 38 years old.

While it’s reasonable to assume Brian Cashman rued the day when Derek Jeter told the Yankees GM, “If you want him, he’s yours,” we can’t re-write history.

However, we can seek to find ways to adapt to events, especially when it comes to making the best of a bad situation.

To that end, it’s likely Cashman has been actively seeking a team interested in executing a deal for Stanton.

Teams on the West Coast where Stanton has his roots fit best into a trade scenario, although Stanton contractually can approve or disprove any trade.

No team is likely to assume Stanton’s contract without the Yankees offsetting a negotiated portion of the $200 million.

Yankees: Taking The Road Less Traveled

Besides exploring the trade market for Stanton, to what extent (if any) have the Yankees struck up talks about reworking his contract?

Having earned $115 million in his career to date, Giancarlo Stanton is a wealthy young man by anyone’s standards.

Clearly, a person with his feet on the ground it’s not likely Stanton counts the days for his monthly paychecks to appear in his bank account.

How likely is it the Yankees could, for instance, convince Stanton to reverse the age-old adage to the point where he will accept the idea that a bird in the bush is worth two in hand?

What if, to get to the point, Stanton is willing to negotiate a Bobby Bonilla type settlement on the remainder of the $200 million owed to him?

On The Sensibility Of Bonilla And The Mets

Before the 2000 season, the Mets, having run the experiment with Bobby Bonilla to its dreadful end, released him with a substantial amount of money still on the table.

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Instead of the $5.9 million owed to Bonilla, the two sides decided he would be paid about $1.2 million each year until 2035.

Over the 25 years of payments, Bonilla will make more than he did on his five-year deal with the Mets from the early ’90s that made him the highest-paid player in baseball at the time.

Since then, there is a yearly exercise among baseball writers and pundits that satirically recalls “Bobby Bonilla Day” when the Mets are chastised for their ignorance.

But if you do the math, both the Mets are benefitting from the settlement. Put simply, if you or I were to invest $6 million (wisely), the interest earned each year goes a long way to offset the $1 million payouts.

Likewise, Bonilla receives a cool million dollars for the next fourteen years during what is now his natural retirement years.

Yankees And The Shape Of A Bonilla-Like Stanton Settlement

Unlike the Mets, the Yankees have no need or desire to release Giancarlo Stanton, a move that leaves them open to paying the full $200 owed to Stanton.

Giancarlo Stanton is thirty years young.  Life expectancy for males in the United States is 79+, leaving a gap of forty years.

For instance, what if the Yankees were to propose a restructuring of Stanton’s contract that contains payment of $5 million each year until 2061?

Together with endorsements and other sources of income through investments, is it not reasonable to conclude that Stanton, who is single, cannot find a way to conduct his daily life with $5 million in his bank account for a single year?

Yankees Giancarlo Stanton's Agent - Joel Wolfe
Yankees Giancarlo Stanton’s Agent – Joel Wolfe

For the Yankees, their liability toward the luxury tax threshold reduces by $24 million this year and $28 million next year and for several seasons thereafter.

Doesn’t that sound like an opportunity for the Yankees to pay J.T. Realmuto, Yu Darvish, DJ LeMahieu, or one of any free agent available this year while still achieving Hal Steinbrenner’s mandate to be fiscally responsible during these COVID influenced times?

The lawyers can work out the details that might include language that alters the yearly payments if Stanton marries and has a family, or if he dies prematurely.

But for today and now, the Yankees get the relief they need in releasing themselves from the constraints of Stanton’s contract.

For Stanton, he gets to finish out his playing career with the Yankees, together with the chance to add talent around him that’s needed to win himself a ring or two.

The Yankees will also have the option of playing pretend with Stanton’s salary. That is, they can invest (as the Mets did) a portion or all of the monies now due to Stanton, thereby lessening even the $5 million owed yearly with interest earned.

Yankees: What’s Left To Lose?

Giancarlo Stanton is not the villain. He is a ballplayer who is well aware of his inability to fulfill his contract’s terms on the playing field. His future healthwise, at best, is uncertain.

Make no mistake, Giancarlo Stanton is not Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Yankees, and hopefully their fans, do not begrudge the contract Stanton signed as a Marlin. One way or another, Stanton is entitled to and will receive every penny of the $200 million owed to him – and the Yankees will honor their liability.

Yankees Luxury Tax 2021 (Photo: Bronx Daily Digest)
Yankees Luxury Tax 2021 (Photo: Bronx Daily Digest)

But if there is a way to ease that liability, the Yankees are obliged to not only approach Giancarlo Stanton and his agent regarding a Bonilla-like settlement but to push hard for the acceptance of the same.

However, the only chance a settlement of this kind has is to keep it off the back pages of New York newspapers and talk radio. Closed doors talk only.

As a distraction, Cashman can feed the ever-present rumor mill of the Hot Stove League with meaningless trade talk fodder.

Restructuring Stanton’s contract is not a wish and a prayer for the Yankees – it’s a must – and the first move belongs to them…


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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.