By Cam Giangrande
I have Aaron Boone’s 2019 OPENING DAY LINEUP CARD:
SS Didi Gregorious
CF Bryce Harper
LF Giancarlo Stanton
3B Mike Moustakas
RF Aaron Judge
C Gary Sanchez
1B Greg Bird
DH Clint Frazier
2B Gleyber Torres
SP Clayton Kershaw
From the moment Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the Yankees, every analyst has been putting together mock lineups for opening day, 2018…so I decided to go one step further and see what’s in store for The Yankees in 2019.
I jumped into my DeLorean, and hit the gas until the speedometer cracked 88 mph. The immediate reaction to Stanton’s signing was what would happen to Bryce Harper when his time came to enter free agency at the end of the 2018 season. EVERYONE had him going to The Bronx; it was the natural fit. He grew up idolizing the Pinstripes, and with their short porch and deep pockets, he couldn’t go anywhere else. Acquiring Stanton would surely throw a monkey wrench into that equation.
How could they afford him? Actually, it’s fairly easy if you understand simple math. Even with Stanton on the payroll, the Yankees total financial obligation entering the 2019 season was only 88 MILLION DOLLARS before the Chase Headley trade, including their young nucleus of Judge, Sanchez, Bird, Torres, (Clint) Frazier, Luis Severino, and Jordan Montgomery. It also includes other young players who are still under team control, with arbitration eligible contracts, including Gregorius, Sonny Gray, Dellin Betances, and Aaron Hicks. They actually have much more coming off their books at the end of the 2018 season, with Dave Robertson, and Brett Gardner all entering the last year of their contracts.
— Patrick Hennessy (@TrueHennessy) December 9, 2017
In fact, the only real albatross on their payroll is Jacoby Ellsbury’s remaining contract. They owe him 68 Million Dollars over the next three seasons. I am confident that they will move him and his contract before the 2018 season begins. They may have to eat half, or more of that money, but they will free up at least a portion of that contract.
As it stood before Headley was moved, The Yankees payroll heading into 2018 was STILL ONLY 169 MILLION DOLLARS. Keep in mind, when they traded for Stanton, they may have added his 25 Million Dollar annual salary, but they only added 14 Million Dollars, because they traded away Starlin Castro and his 11 Million Dollar annual salary. Brian Cashman is definitely earning his new 5yr/$25M contract.
All of a sudden, the Yankees are righty-heavy. They have a need for a top lefty bat. With Todd Frazier a free agent, and Chase Headley gone, The Yankees also have a need for a third baseman.
ENTER MIKE MOUSTAKAS!
At age 29, a six-year deal in the 100 Million Dollar range with an option should get it done. So 2018 is set, with Sanchez behind the dish, Bird at first, Torres at second, Gregorius at shortstop, and Moustakas at third, they will boast one of the best infields in the game. And with Gardner in CF, Judge in RF, and Stanton in LF, they have the best outfield in the game. Add to that, a returning rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and maybe CC Sabathia,, with a bullpen of Tommy Kahnle, Robertson, Betances, and Chapman…and this team is a powerhouse.
Now: onto 2019.
The two biggest chips entering the 2019 free agency market are Harper and Kershaw. The Yankees have never been shy to make the biggest deals for the shiniest toys. They have the payroll to make it happen to get both. Somewhere in the 10-12 year range and 400-450 Million Dollar range will make Harper a Yankee. Kershaw won’t be as expensive. He’ll be entering his age 31 season in 2019. It will take an eight year, 250-300 Million Dollar deal.
This will guarantee at least two seasons of that core, before Stanton has to decide whether or not to opt out after the 2020 season. What has amazed me throughout the Stanton dance, is that everyone has been saying the team who inherits him, would also inherit his 295 Million Dollar Contract.
Let me be the first to tell you: GIANCARLO STANTON WILL OPT OUT AT THE END OF 2020. He’ll have eight years and 243 Million Dollars remaining on his current contract. With Harper and Manny Machado dwarfing that number, there is zero chance he keeps the status quo. At that point, with Harper in the fold, The Yankees have the flexibility to either re-negotiate with Stanton, or simply let him go to the West Coast which is where he ultimately wants to be.
By that time if The Yankees have secured Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw, to go along with at least one World Series title over these next few years, no Yankee fan would complain that they only have Stanton’s services for the next three seasons.
This is a franchise that’s playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. The next few years will be fun, whether you love or hate the Yankees.