Giancarlo Stanton is making a ridiculous amount of money, compared to virtually everyone else in the world. That point is undeniable. His $325 million contract extension, given out by the Miami Marlins after the 2014 season, years before he even won the National League MVP Award, was the biggest in the history of sports at the time, though it has since been surpassed multiple times.
Stanton, as you’re likely aware, has yet to surpass his 6.8 fWAR 2014 season since being traded to the Yankees. His best season in New York, 2018, he was worth 4.3 WAR. That’s an excellent player, but well behind his career best 7.3 in 2017, his MVP season.
Yankee fans have noted Stanton’s decline in value since that peak. That he is playing worse than he did at his best in Miami, and less frequently due to injuries, is undeniable — however, that does not mean that his contract is truly overvalued, especially considering when he signed it and the players that have surpassed his total value since that point.
FanGraphs determined that in 2020, 1 WAR was worth $9.1 million per year in free agency. Of course, Stanton signed his deal well before that, so one has to adjust down for inflation. As of the conclusion of Sunday’s game, Stanton has amassed 2.4 WAR for the Yankees in 2021, which would make him worth 21.84 million dollars. In 2021, Stanton is earning $29 million dollars. Obviously, that is more than that calculation, but when you consider six years’ worth of inflation plus the $30 million Miami sent the Yankees when Stanton declined to opt out of his deal last year, it is much closer to even.
Plus, when again considering inflation, Stanton’s contact will continue to look smaller and smaller as the years go by. Young stars, perhaps Juan Soto in the near future, could get mega contracts or extensions that could make Stanton’s deal look puny. Bryce Harper signed a contract with Philadelphia for a greater total value than Stanton’s after putting up a season worth nearly four fewer WAR. Harper is younger than Stanton, yes, but besides his MVP season in 2015 and this year, when he very well may win it again, he has never put up a WAR above 5.0. Stanton has done it three times. Fernando Tatis Jr. was signed by San Diego last offseason through 2034 (!) for $340 million. The going rate for players is just increasing. Compared to that, Stanton’s contract ending in 2027 is the near future.
I’m not trying to argue that Stanton has been as good with New York as expected after trading for him. Considering he was moving to a much smaller ballpark, Brian Cashman and the front office probably expected his home run numbers to stay around at least 40 per season, and that hasn’t happened except for in 2018. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a more productive player than most, or that he can’t still reach those numbers in a season where he doesn’t have to go on the Injured List.
Sure, by the time Stanton’s deal is reaching its conclusion in 2027 and he’s nearing 40 years old he will probably be overpaid, especially considering his skillset and his history of injuries. However, considering the performance he’s providing today, it is not an overpayment. From 2014-2017, he was being underpaid for the stunning power show he provided the Marlins. Until the day comes that Stanton can’t put up approximately 3 WAR, Yankee fans would do better to send their vitriol elsewhere. At any rate, that money should not be a difficult thing to work around for a billion-dollar global franchise like the one Stanton plays for.