The Yankees are loading up on outfield depth, as Joel Sherman reports the team is also expected to add centerfielder Trent Grisham to their return alongside Juan Soto. Following the acquisition of Alex Verdugo, it was expected that the Yankees weren’t going to get Grisham, as that would create an outfield logjam, but in need of centerfield defense, they’ll still net the speedy outfielder. Grisham, just 27 years old, had a 91 wRC+ and 1.7 fWAR this past season and is known as a defensive mastermind with his two Gold Gloves and +37 OAA in the outfield.
With the Yankees loading up on left-handed outfield help, they’ll secure their defense in centerfield with the steady presence of Trent Grisham.
Yankees Looking to Shore Up Defense in Centerfield
Trent Grisham’s defensive prowess is well-known, as since coming over to the San Diego Padres following the 2019 season, he ranks fifth in DRS (24) and second in OAA (33) among all centerfielders. The Yankees, who recently acquired Alex Verdugo and are about to acquire Juan Soto, are looking to add to their outfield depth and get a much-needed fourth outfielder. This will allow the Yankees to concentrate on their pitching staff, especially given how the Yankees will need to surrender a haul for Juan Soto.
Jack Curry reported on YES Network that the Yankees are expected to part ways with both Michael King and Drew Thorpe, two of the most coveted pitchers in the organization, while also throwing in arms like Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez. Grisham will only cost $5 million towards the Luxury Tax and has two years remaining on his contract, serving as a potential multi-year solution for the team as a fourth outfielder as they wait on Jasson Dominguez’s recovery and the development of outfielders like Everson Pereira and Spencer Jones.
It’s expected that the Yankees use Grisham in a fourth outfield role, and given the Yankees’ woes with position player depth in the past, this will certainly be an upgrade. Last season, they relied on newly-converted outfielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa to hold the fort down in centerfield, and Grisham is a massive step up not only defensively, but potentially with the bat as well. While a .198 average and 91 wRC+ are underwhelming, Grisham does damage to the baseball on contact.
This past season he had a .385 xwOBACON and 11.9% Barrel%, leading to a .322 xwOBA that the Yankees are hoping to unlock in the Bronx. His swing could profile well for Yankee Stadium, which has a short porch in right field that could entice Grisham to pull the ball down the line for more home runs. Plate discipline is another benefit here, as he sports a career 11.6% walk rate in his career, and last season walked 13.5% of the time in 153 games played.
Grisham could also platoon against left-handed pitching, where he has a career 110 wRC+ in those matchups, includinjg a .791 OPS and 124 wRC+ against southpaws in 2023. The Yankees are getting a strong platoon partner with Alex Verdugo potentially, as the aforementioned corner outfielder has a career 115 wRC+ against righties. The final piece of the puzzle here for the Yankees’ interest could be durability, with Grisham playing over 150 games in the past two seasons, and the team having massive injury issues.
It’ll be a five-for-two package potentially for Juan Soto, although a deal has yet to be formally announced.