San Diego Padres LF Juan Soto and Chicago Cubs OF Cody Bellinger have been tied to The New York Yankees as top-tier upgrades to the outfield with the expectation of at least getting one. Could the Yankees wind up landing both stars?
Soto is one of the MLB’s top draws in the trade market and is slated for the final year of his contract where he’ll earn $27 million. Bellinger on the other hand is a prime free agent who is fresh off of his one-year, $17.5 million deal and will likely look for more dollars in the open market.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale said this about the Yankees potentially landing both to start alongside Aaron Judge in 2024:
“The Yankees and San Francisco Giants are widely viewed as the co-favorites now to sign free-agent center fielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger,’ Nightingale said. “The Yankees would love to have Bellinger and Juan Soto roaming their outfield, while the Giants would also like to also have free-agent Matt Chapman playing third base for them.”
Bellinger Comes at a Hefty Price For the Yankees
The fact that Bellinger can play in both centerfield and at first base makes him a versatile defender who also has power and command at the plate. The Yankees have Anthony Rizzo situated at first, but have a growing need for reinforcements with Jasson Dominguez, Everson Pereira, and Estevan Florial having manned duties in 2023.
Bellinger hit his most home runs (26) and posted his best slash line of .307/.356/.525 since his 2019 NL MVP run. He’ll likely be looking for an annual salary north of $20 million.
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Soto a Worthy Trade Piece in Offseason or Midseason of 2024
As for Soto, he is coming off of a 2023 campaign that saw him dial in 35 home runs and 109 RBIs, the latter of which would greatly help the Yankees in their order. Among left fielders in the National League, he finished with the most putouts (254) and third-most assists (10) and makes for the perfect addition for the Yankees.
Per Matt Levine of Fan Nation, the Padres and Soto are still exploring a potential contract extension. If both parties come to terms, the Yankees still have the option to make a play for him during the 2024 campaign, especially if they don’t get off to a fast start to the year. The Padres are hovering around the $200 million mark in salary, giving them added incentive to deal Soto to New York.
Regardless of who would get traded for Soto, bringing him and Bellinger into the fold together would require Yankees brass to invest close to $50 million next season and more than that once Soto is set for a re-up. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner is willing to open his checkbook, but not exceed the $300 million marker in salary cap if he doesn’t have to.