As October rolls in, the New York Yankees face the arduous task of assessing their decision-makers rather than vying for the World Series title. The 2023 season hasn’t been kind to General Manager Brian Cashman and his crafted roster. Nonetheless, the path to prominence is clear, and with their resources, the Yankees are poised to make a headline move if they desire.
Juan Soto: A Perfect Fit for Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium could hardly find a better match than superstar lefty slugger Juan Soto. Rumors are swirling around the San Diego Padres shedding some salary, and with Soto nearing free agency in the 2025 off-season, the stage might be set. Pairing him with Aaron Judge would undeniably propel the Yankees to possessing one of baseball’s most thrilling lineups.
“There’s been a suggestion the Padres may scale back after failing to make the playoffs with the third-highest payroll,” Jon Heyman of the New York Post said. “And some believe Juan Soto, who’s a year from free agency, could be up for trade discussion.
The Yankees could opt to wait for Soto to explore the open market, playing it safe this forthcoming off-season. Yet, securing him through a trade and offering an extension before his market debut would ensure they have him in their grasp for years to come, capitalizing on his youth.
At just 24, Soto’s reputation as one of baseball’s premier hitters is cemented. In the current season, he has showcased his prowess in 160 games, boasting a .274 average, a .409 OBP, and impressive stats, including 35 homers and 108 RBIs.
“Not sure selling is in San Diego’s DNA, but in case, the Yankees, who badly need left-handed hitters, make sense. (And no one should ever rule out Steve Cohen, of course.) One exec suggests: It should be patterned after the Mookie Betts deal, a superstar with a year to go (though hopefully would turn out fairer).”
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Soto’s Reliability: A Boost for the Yankees
One of Soto’s standout attributes is his consistency. For three straight seasons, he’s played at least 151 games, a level of reliability that the Yankees have sorely missed of late.
Position-wise, the debate arises on where he’d best fit in the outfield. With 1,345 outfield innings this season, all in left field, Soto seems to be a natural fit. However, Yankee Stadium’s left field can be tricky. Soto’s record this year showed -6 defensive runs saved and -9 outs above average. While his defense might raise eyebrows, his offense might more than compensate.
There’s also the strategy of slotting him in right field and transitioning Judge to the center. However, the Yankees tread cautiously with Judge, minimizing his cardio to prevent lower-body injuries. Still, adding Soto’s firepower to the team would overshadow any positional dilemmas, and his presence in the batting lineup would be monumental.
To secure a talent like Soto, the Yankees would have to be willing to let go of prime prospects and possibly MLB-ready stars. Only a select few, namely Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Drew Thorpe, should be non-negotiable. With their rich farm system, the Yankees have plenty to entice the Padres.