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Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton out with Grade 1 calf strain

More discouraging news for Stanton, who played in just 18 games last season.

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts Photo by Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees outfielder/DH Giancarlo Stanton will miss time with a Grade 1 calf strain and may not be ready for Opening Day, as manager Aaron Boone told reporters following Wednesday’s spring training game:

This is just another disturbing development for the 30-year-old Stanton, who was limited to 18 regular-season games and five postseason contests last season due to a left biceps strain and right knee sprain. Stanton is in the sixth season of a 13-year, $325 million contract, and at this point it seems extremely unlikely that he’ll opt out of the deal when given the chance after this season.

Stanton is a game-changing slugger when healthy, and his numbers weren’t bad last year in a limited sample: a .288/.403/.492 slash line with three homers in 72 plate appearances. But his slugging percentage was the third-lowest of his career — a concerning trend in a season where the ball was widely believed to be juiced — and he didn’t look like the same player who had won the NL MVP award with the Marlins two years earlier.

While there are still some borderline major-league-caliber free agents on the market — Yasiel Puig, Addison Russell, Scooter Gennett, Melky Cabrera, and Mark Trumbo, among a few others — it appears that the Yankees are already getting punished for letting their depth erode this offseason. They let starters Didi Gregorious and Edwin Encarnacion as well as key bench contributors Cameron Maybin and Austin Romine walk in free agency, released first baseman Greg Bird, and lost center fielder Aaron Hicks for at least part of the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. They really didn’t replace any of those guys, so now they’re left hoping that Miguel Andújar can bounce back from shoulder surgery and fill the DH role, guys like Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, and Mike Ford can replicate their surprising 2019 production, and Clint Frazier can take a step forward.