Spring training is a time for experimentation, for testing, and for preparation. In the case of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees may consider doing all three of these. Stanton, a full-time right fielder during his time with the Marlins, made the transition to being primarily a designated hitter in 2018. He did play roughly half of his games in the outfield though, spending some time in left and right field when Aaron Judge was injured or needed rest.
A year into his stay in New York, the Yankees may want to consider whether they should keep Stanton a mainstay DH or let him man a corner this time around. The Yankees are currently fielding Brett Gardner in left, as they have for most of the past decade, and Clint Frazier is a viable option as well, but neither compares to Stanton’s value in the everyday lineup.
Sliding Stanton back into the outfield would have the added benefit of opening the DH slot for a host of other options. Hitters who need a day off but are valuable members of the lineup could take a spell at DH, as could anyone dealing with nagging injuries that prevent them from fielding properly. This was a style that Joe Girardi leaned on often during his tenure with the Yankees with a much older roster than today’s version, but given the health concerns of several members of the team it could be valuable to go back to this strategy.
On the other hand, if Stanton is penciled in at left then the Yankees wasted a bit of their resources this offseason. Gardner immediately becomes a $7.5 million backup outfielder, and wouldn’t likely make his way back into the lineup. Gardner does not have any experience playing right field though, meaning Stanton would likely have to slide over there if Judge needs a day off.
The Yankees would also need at least a part-time DH to fill the role regularly when all of the starters are good to go, and the likeliest candidate is DJ LeMahieu. That would leave the Yankees’ bench mostly barren in the case of an injury during a game, and would cause the forfeiture of the DH spot if LeMahieu needed to be subbed in to field. Using LeMahieu as their DH could hamper their flexibility since most of their depth is tied to one utility player.
All in all, there are minor benefits to go along with minor risks if the Yankees choose to go this route. They may think it is more valuable to play Stanton in the field, but it ultimately may not be worth the roster hassle. Either way, it’s one of the decisions that the Yankees can best decide during this time before the games count.