Yankees’ new outfielder has chance to earn long-term extension

mlb: los angeles dodgers at boston red sox, alex verdugo, yankees
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have high hopes for their newly constructed outfield in 2024. Juan Soto should slide in at the top of the order and offer them a Hall of Fame-level bat at just 25 years old. However, the inclusion of Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox also presents substantial potential.

Verdugo is coming off a down season at 27 years old, heading into the final year of arbitration. Last year, he hit .264/.324/.421, including 13 home runs, 54 RBIs, and a 98 wRC+. This is the first time since 2018 that he was considered a below-average hitter, but his lefty bat profiles perfectly for the short right porch in Yankee Stadium.

In fact, Verdugo said himself that there were a few balls that should’ve been homers at Fenway, so the Yankees are hoping to get more production in 2024. In fact, Verdugo hit 11 homers in 2022, but he would’ve hit 20 if playing in Yankee Stadium, representing a major increase and a variable the Bombers want to take advantage of.

Keep in mind he is two years removed from a season where he hit 289/.351/.426. The Yankees wanted to improve their batting average, and Verdugo should help in that regard, but he’s also capable of getting on base at a clip above 35%.

The Yankees May Only be Renting Alex Verdugo

Nonetheless, he’s in the final year of arbitration and has an estimated salary of $9.2 million. The Yankees will have to make a decision on his long-term future following next year. Of course, they would like to try to make a significant play for Juan Soto, who could earn more than $400 million on the market, given his age and durability.

The team may not want to extend Verdugo beyond next season since they expect Jasson Dominguez to return to full health following Tommy John surgery.

Manager Aaron Boone recently stated that Dominguez is making significant progress and should look like a normal player come spring training. At just 20 years old, Dominguez hit .258/.303/.677 with a 162 wRC+, including four homers and seven RBIs across just eight MLB games.

If Aaron Judge slots in centerfield long-term and Soto takes over in right field for the foreseeable future, Dominguez will likely move into the left field position — Jasson could take over in CF as well, which would make Verdugo the odd man out. It seems as if he will likely be a one-year rental to help fuel their World Series aspirations next season, especially if the Yankees want to spend a bit more on their starting pitching situation.

Currently, the Yanks are looking at Jordan Montgomery in a potential reunion, but they may not want to spend over $100 million on his services long-term. The 2025 free agent class is also a bit thin, but there will be options like Corbin Burnes available to make a strong push, so the front office saving a bit of money now could be lucrative down the road.

With that being said, trading for Shane Bieber, who will also be a free agent after next season, could be a nice stop-gap solution to help the rotation. There are still plenty of questions to answer for the Yankees, but the outfield certainly isn’t one of them for the 2024 season.

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