Yankees’ 2 new outfielders are taking the offense to new heights

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2023 season, the New York Yankees struggled to field a consistent outfield lineup. With Aaron Judge missing a significant portion of the season due to injury, both the left-field and centerfield positions were constantly in flux. The Yankees rotated players daily, aiming to maximize efficiency but often prioritizing matchups over skill, revealing a significant talent gap.

Rebuilding the Yankees’ Outfield

To address this, general manager Brian Cashman took decisive action in the off-season, acquiring Alex Verdugo and Juan Soto to strengthen the outfield and quell any doubts about the team’s depth. Their impact was evident in the Yankees’ 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

The Yankees scored seven earned runs against Justin Verlander, forcing him out of the game after just five innings. Verdugo and Soto combined for six hits, four RBIs, and three runs. Aaron Judge also contributed, adding two walks and an RBI. Although the majority of the lineup hit Verlander well, Gleyber Torres’s struggles continued.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Soto and Verdugo’s Key Contributions

Soto has been exceptional this season, slashing .329/.432/.564 with eight homers and 28 RBIs, boasting a 185 wRC+. This impressive streak comes at a crucial time in his contract year, positioning him for a lucrative long-term deal that may set new records. His impact on the Yankees’ offense is undeniable, and owner Hal Steinbrenner is certainly aware of this.

Verdugo, at 27 years old and also in a contract year, has made his mark as well. He’s hitting .275/.362/.450, with five homers, 17 RBIs, a 9.9% strikeout rate, a 12.1% walk rate, and a 135 wRC+. His strong performance emphasizes how elite Soto has been in the early weeks of the 2024 season.

However, the Yankees will likely be able to retain only one of these two outfielders, most likely Soto, leaving Verdugo to test the open market and creating a future vacancy in left field. Fortunately, Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones are rising through the ranks and should be ready for full-time starting roles in 2025.

Seeing Cashman’s acquisitions deliver value and earn their pay is encouraging, especially after past misses like Josh Donaldson. At least now, the Yankees are focusing on younger, more durable talent.

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