The New York Yankees‘ new and improved 2024 outfield should get most fans excited. Last season, the starting outfield on Opening Day consisted of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Oswaldo Cabrera. General manager Brian Cashman set out to make major improvements this off-season, and he did just that.
On Wednesday night, the Yankees secured superstar lefty slugger Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres and depth piece Trent Grisham. This is one of the biggest trades in Cashman‘s career and may define his legacy at the end of the day. However, the Yankees didn’t have to give up a single Top-5 prospect in their farm system to get the job done, sending Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez, Jhony Brito, and Kyle Higashioka in the deal.
The Yankees struggled considerably with runners in scoring position last year, sporting one of the worst offenses in baseball and the team’s history. Fortunately, the team is doing everything they can to give Aaron Judge, their new captain, a squad that can win a World Series. Wasting away the primes of Judge and Gerrit Cole would be inexcusable, but management is seemingly investing in a roster brimming with talent.
A Look at the Yankees’ New 2024 Outfield:
RF: Juan Soto
The Yankees’ acquisition of Alex Verdugo helps push Juan Soto, a defensive liability, into an easier right-field position. The 25-year-old has played a minimum of 150 games over the past three seasons and played all 162 games in 2023. He hit .275/.410/.519, including a career-high 35 homers, 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+. He has featured a higher walk rate than strike-out rate every season since 2019.
Soto has the perfect makeup to dominate in Yankee Stadium. His confident personality should also bode well for a New York media market that tends to thrive on hostility. Soto simply produces and is in the middle of a Hall of Fame career. It is rare that players of this magnitude are available, but the San Diego Padres had to offload salary, and they managed to get some quality pitching in return.
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CF: Aaron Judge
As we saw in 2023, the Yankees without Aaron Judge are simply a shell of themselves. The 31-year-old signed a nine-year, $360 million deal to serve as the team’s best player. Judge only played 106 games this past season but still hit .267/.406/.613. He also contributed 37 homers and 75 RBIs with a 174 wRC+. Having Judge and Soto at the top of the batting order is a thing of beauty; it is just a matter of how Aaron Boone wants to deploy them.
Judge played a good amount of centerfield last season, 134 innings, to be exact. He featured a perfect fielding percentage with one out above average. He was about an average option defensively, but the Yankees could end up utilizing Verdugo in that spot if they want to limit Judge’s mobility, which may decrease injury probability.
Judge has a good glove and elite arm strength, but his offensive production is next to none.
LF: Alex Verdugo
The Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for several pitchers. The 27-year-old has one year left on his contract before he becomes a free agent in 2025. Last season, Verdugo hit .264/.324/.421, posting 13 homers, 54 RBIs, and 98 wRC+.
Historically, he’s been a slightly above-average hitter but had a down year this past campaign. Verdugo had one of his best seasons back in 2019, playing 106 games, hitting .294 with a .342 OBP.
If the Yanks can get maximum value out of Verdugo, their outfield will easily be one of the best offensive units in the game, but his defense isn’t too shabby, either. Last season, he played 1,170 innings in the outfield, posting a .990 fielding percentage with nine defensive runs saved and one above average. He’s not the best centerfielder by any means, but he can cover ground. Left field is a difficult spot in Yankee Stadium, so they’ll need his defensive prowess.