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Is the clock winding down on Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes?

Giancarlo Stanton has not had the tenure he hoped he would with the Yankees.
Giancarlo Stanton has not had the tenure he hoped he would with the Yankees.

Reading the tea leaves is a dangerous game — especially if you’re Giancarlo Stanton.

The writing on the wall in the Bronx is not favorable for the 2017 NL MVP.

The club recently acquired superstar outfielder Juan Soto in a deal with the San Diego Padres. Soto is on an expiring contract as he is set to enter free agency after the 2024 season.

However, if the package Brian Cashman surrendered to acquire the 25-year-old is any indication, Soto is likely a part of the long-term plans  — or at least the Yankees hope so.

Soto’s profile is similar to that of Stanton in a few aspects, the main being a below-average defender in the outfield. The Dominican Native will likely be relegated to DH in the not-so-distant future.

The Yankees, for this upcoming season, plan to go with Aaron Judge in center field. The Captain is entering his age-32 season and having a 6-foot-7 veteran patrol the lengthy gaps of Yankee Stadium is likely not in their best interest with the nine-year, $360 million investment they just made before the 2023 season.

Jasson Dominguez is expected to return at some point in the late summer after undergoing Tommy John Surgery and could take over for Judge moving him back to one of the corners. Ideally, Aaron Boone will have an outfield of Dominguez, Judge with some combination of Soto for the better part of the years ahead.

The question is, where does Stanton fit into all of this?

The 34-year-old has four years remaining on his contract and is coming off the worst season of his career. Stanton slashed .195/.275/.420 with 24 homers and 60 RBI in 101 games. The veteran could be in the midst of a very steep decline after back-to-back career-worst seasons as he posted a .759 OPS in 2022 as well.

Fitting Stanton into the outfield has been difficult enough — even last season when the Yanks didn’t have many major league capable players to disperse out there. Now, with Soto, Judge and Dominguez all figuring to get ample time in the outfield — along with necessary DH time for Soto and Judge moving forward — it becomes a very confusing puzzle and Stanton is a piece that seemingly doesn’t fit.

This is all before mentioning his well-documented injury issues that general manager Brian Cashman had no issue publicly addressing.

“We try to limit the time he’s down,” Cashman said at the GM Meetings in November. “But I’m not gonna tell you he’s gonna play every game next year because he’s not. He’s going to wind up getting hurt again more likely than not because it seems to be part of his game. But I know that when he’s right and healthy – other than this past year – the guy’s a great hitter and has been for a long time.”

The Yankees have a history — and fairly recent — of determining a roster spot alone more valuable than the player occupying it regardless of how much is remaining on a contract.

Aaron Hicks was released with two years remaining on his deal just last season. Jacoby Ellsbury was essentially told to go away after 2019 as the Bombers ate $26 million remaining on his deal as he didn’t play in a game in over 2 seasons to that point.

It may not be at that point just yet with Stanton, however, another season of batting below the Mendoza line and uncomfortable conversations may begin taking place.