In their ongoing quest to infuse youth and athleticism into their lineup, the New York Yankees may have their sights set on San Diego Padres’ outfielder, Juan Soto. The 24-year-old elite player is inching closer to the free-agent market with his last year of arbitration looming in 2024.
The Potential Big Move
Rumors are swirling that the Yankees might make a move to acquire Soto this off-season, although they could wait to sign him in the 2025 off-season. According to The Athletic, the Yankees should be aggressive in pursuing a trade for Soto, imagining him alongside Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole as the bedrock of the team.
“The Yankees should absolutely capitalize on this. With a void in left field and Soto’s left-handed hitting prowess, he’s primed to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short porch. Pairing a generational talent like Soto with established stars like Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole makes perfect sense,” stated The Athletic.
Soto’s stats for the season are nothing short of impressive, boasting a .275 batting average, a .410 OBP, and a .519 slugging rate. Not to mention his 35 homers, 109 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, an 18.2% strikeout rate, 18.6% walk rate, and 155 wRC+.
A Perfect Fit for the Yankees
The Yankees could immensely benefit from having Soto at the top of their order, setting the table for Judge. With Soto’s impressive 41% on-base rate, envisioning Judge capitalizing with two-run homers early in games is a tantalizing prospect for any Yankees fan.
Soto’s durability is another major plus, having played no fewer than 150 games since 2018, barring the Covid-affected season. Pairing his consistent health record with his offensive prowess means he could shine brightly in the Yankees’ lineup for many seasons to come.
With the return of Jasson Dominguez from Tommy John surgery anticipated to slot into centerfield, adding Soto to left field and keeping Judge in his familiar right field would arguably give the Yankees one of baseball’s most formidable outfields. Especially when considering Soto’s recent numbers: a 55.3% hard-hit rate, 13% barrel rate, and an average exit velocity of 93.2 mph.
The Price of Acquisition
Securing a talent like Soto won’t come easy or cheap. The Padres are expected to demand a significant return. While prospects like Anthony Volpe, Dominguez, and Drew Thorpe might be non-negotiable for the Yankees, they should be open to discussing any other player in their ranks.
Another strategy would see the Yankees waiting for Soto to become a free agent, thereby avoiding the loss of key prospects. However, this would run the risk of another team snapping him up and offering him an extended contract before he hits the open market.