If the New York Yankees want to watch baseballs fly off Juan Soto’s bat into the night sky in the Bronx, they will have to take on another player to relieve more salary. The fact that the San Diego Padres are trying to attach outfielder Trent Grisham to a prospective deal indicates that they desperately need to clear financial space since Grisham is a downward-trending player expected to earn $5 million next season.
Of course, Soto is the primary goal here, but Grisham could be a decent depth piece in the outfield at 27 years old. He is under control until 2026 but is coming off two down seasons with the Padres. In 2022, Grisham hit .184/.284/.341, contributing 17 homers and 53 RBIs. His strikeout rate reached a career-high 28.6%, and his wRC+ dropped to a career-low 84.
His numbers in 2023 weren’t much better, hitting .198/.315/.352, including 13 homers and 50 RBIs with a 91 wRC+ across 153 games. At the very least, Grisham has proven to be healthy and durable, which is certainly a good sign given the Yankees issues in that category.
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The Yankees Can Afford the Extra $5 Million
Taking on his $5 million estimated salary next season shouldn’t hold the Yankees back from acquiring Soto, despite his projected $30+ million in the final year of arbitration. Grisham is an interesting player, though, offering good defense, specifically in centerfield, where he contributed 14 outs above average in 2022 and seven outs above average last season over 1,276 innings.
If the Yankees need a supplement in center field, Grisham could be a short-term solution while they wait for Jasson Dominguez to return from Tommy Jon surgery.
Taking a look at some of his advanced stats, Grisham recorded a 39.9% hard-hit rate, 11.8% barrel rate, and 90.3 average exit velocity last season. Those numbers are quite solid, and the Yankees can likely work with those, especially since he sports a double-digit walk rate on a yearly basis. According to Brian Hoch of MLB.com, the Padres are insisting that the Yankees take Grisham, which isn’t a bad scenario since they might be able to turn his career around at only 27.
Alternatively, general manager Brian Cashman could look for a short-term solution in free agency, with Kevin Kiermaier presenting a decent option or considering an option with more upside like Jung-hoo Lee of the KBO.