Yankees’ new left fielder could be a catalyst for a World Series in 2024

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have made significant strides in bolstering their outfield for the upcoming season, with Juan Soto’s arrival generating considerable excitement. The addition of a player of Soto’s caliber is a game-changer for a team that struggled offensively in the outfield last year.

Juan Soto: A Hall of Fame-Level Talent

At just 25 years old, Juan Soto is poised to command a salary exceeding $40 million per season as a free agent next year. However, for the 2024 campaign, the Yankees have secured him at $31 million for the final year of arbitration. Soto’s presence alone is expected to revitalize the Yankees’ outfield, bringing elite offensive capabilities to the team.

Alex Verdugo’s Key Role With the Yankees

In addition to Soto, the Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo, who is set to take over left field—a position that saw considerable instability in 2023. Verdugo, 27, is also entering a contract year, bringing with him a history of slightly above-average offensive performance. With the advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short right porch, expectations for Verdugo are high.

Verdugo’s stats from last season, including a .264/.324/.421 batting line with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs, demonstrate his potential for improvement. His solid defensive season contributed to a 2.0 WAR, the second-best of his career. As Verdugo seeks a long-term deal post-2024, his motivation to enhance his performance is undeniable.

READ MORE: Why the Yankees need to do everything they can to land Blake Snell

Addressing Left Field and Defensive Expectations

The Yankees’ efforts to strengthen their outfield defense are evident in their acquisition of Verdugo. Last year, he played 1,170 innings in the outfield, achieving a .990 fielding percentage with nine defensive runs saved and one out above average. Transitioning to left field in Yankee Stadium presents new challenges, but Verdugo’s adaptability and communication with centerfielder Aaron Judge will be crucial.

General Manager Brian Cashman’s strategy to add two left-handed bats has been realized with the signings of Verdugo and Soto, addressing a significant need for the Yankees. As left field has been a weak point for the team in recent years, Verdugo’s contribution is anticipated to be a significant upgrade, potentially propelling the Yankees towards a World Series contention this season.

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