The New York Yankees are poised to create a formidable and exciting outfield lineup, anchored by one of baseball’s best hitters, Aaron Judge, in right field. Despite Judge’s missed games in 2023 impacting the team’s run production, the Yankees have a golden opportunity to balance developing prospects and acquiring star talent to enhance their outfield.
Pursuing Juan Soto
A key target for the Yankees this off-season is Juan Soto, a move that could significantly strengthen their outfield. Failing to acquire Soto, especially if he is available, would be a considerable missed opportunity for the Yankees. Soto’s ability to complement Judge’s batting prowess could result in a powerful offensive duo.
Potential Addition of LF Juan Soto
The rumors are certainly swirling regarding Soto, with the San Diego Padres expected to offload some major salary to remedy financial issues. Most believe that it’s almost a guarantee that he will be moved, and the Yankees will be waiting for the opportunity.
At 25 years old, Soto played all 162 games this past season, hitting .275 with a .410 OBP, including 35 homers, 109 RBIs, a .519 slugging rate, and 155 wRC+. The only player to have a higher on-base percentage than Soto over their first five seasons in the 2000s is Barry Bonds.
The truth is simple: the Yankees desperately need to be getting younger and more durable, both of which Soto hits on. In addition, his bat would be amazing with the short right porch in Yankee Stadium. He would sell tickets and give the team a chance to turn things around immediately regarding a World Series-caliber team. Having played over 150 games for the last three consecutive seasons, it is evident that he shows up and performs on a daily basis, which is something that can’t be said for most of the team.
Of course, the Yankees would have to acknowledge that he might be a defensive liability at times, playing 1345 innings last year, all of which came in left field. He recorded a .989 fielding percentage with -6 defensive runs saved and -9 outs above average. However, considering he played so many innings, the team can easily live with these numbers, especially since he will make up for it 100-times over in the batter’s box.
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Centerfield Prospect: Jasson Dominguez
The future undoubtedly has star prospect Jasson Dominguez in it for the Yankees, likely at centerfield. The 20-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery several weeks ago, but he impressed over a small sample size in the MLB. Over eight games, he hit .258 with a .303 OBP and .677 slugging rate, including four homers and seven RBIs with a 162 wRC+.
The Yankees may not have the best defensive outfield, but they sure will have the best offensive one, especially if Jasson can reach his potential. It is unlikely he will make a significant impact in 2024 coming off the injury, but it is possible the team’s top prospect can help in the second half of the year, likely starting around August or early September, depending on the team’s needs.
Right Field: Aaron Judge’s Domain
Last but not least, Aaron Judge has the right field position locked up for the next eight seasons after signing a nine-year, $360 million deal in 2022. At 31 years old, Judge was excellent once again in 2023 despite only playing 106 games. He hit .267 with a .406 OBP and a .613 slugging rate, including 37 home runs and 75 RBIs with a 174 wRC+.
It is important to note that Judge was injured for a good portion of the season and was dealing with a significant amount of pain even after he returned, so the fact his numbers were still incredible speaks volumes about his quality.
The Yankees’ Outfield Vision
Combining the talents of Soto, Dominguez, and Judge, the Yankees could assemble one of the most formidable offensive outfields in MLB and their franchise history. This trio has the potential to create a legacy of excellence for the Yankees, both in the upcoming season and beyond.