Yankees feel ‘pretty decent’ about their chances at landing 2 superstars

mlb: washington nationals at new york yankees, brian cashman
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Yankees are able to walk away from this off-season with an elite batter and a pitcher with ace upside, most would agree that would be enough to get them back into the World Series conversation.

The Yankees were plagued by injury and inconsistencies in 2023. Ultimately, it was the perfect storm after general manager Brian Cashman invested heavily in aging players and bet the house that one of the oldest teams in baseball could find ways to push toward the postseason.

Former hitting coach Dillon Lawson was ultimately the scapegoat for an offense that failed to produce after putting together a tremendous 2022 campaign. The lackluster results procured by Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu in the first half of the season turned the team on its head. However, Cashman is just as much to blame as anybody else, given the team’s poor roster construction and lack of depth in the outfield.

Fortunately for Cashman, it seems as if he has the green light to acquire two massive players over the next few weeks. Superstar Lefty slugger Juan Soto and international pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto have become realistic targets for the Yankees, who are clearly looking to spend a year after signing Aaron Judge to a $360 million deal and Carlos Rodon to a 162 million deal last off-season.

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The Yankees are Wheeling and Dealing

The Yankees have been negotiating with the San Diego Padres for Soto, presenting some different packages in return. So far, the Padres haven’t been convinced, but at some point, they will have to lower their asking price, given the lack of leverage.

The Padres took out a $50 million loan in September to cover payroll expenses, so the $30 million on Soto’s estimated contract in 2023 will have to come off the books, not to mention Jake Cronenworth and his seven-year, $80 million contract that expires in 2031 potentially being strapped to any deal.

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Yankees feel “pretty decent” about their chances of acquiring both star players, improving the top half of their lineup considerably, and a 25-year-old pitcher who could take over for Gerrit Cole as the team’s top gun in the future.

Yamamoto pitched 164 innings in the JPPL this past season and over 170 innings across all competitions. He featured a 1.21 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs, two home runs, and striking out 169 batters.

Olympics: Baseball-Men Semifinal - JPN-KOR, yankees, yoshinobu yamamoto
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (17) throws a pitch against Korea in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, these two players don’t make up for a lack of depth across the roster, but the Yankees are expected to elevate several prospects to help in that regard.

In addition, they could bring in a cheaper centerfield option like Kevin Kiermaier on a short-term deal and bring back Frankie Montas for the 2024 season at $10 million. Given the fact that Luis Severino signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the New York Mets, Montas should get a bit of cash, but he missed virtually the entire 2023 season, so it is safe to say he will have around that range.

The Yankees have a clear path to getting back into contention, but it will cost them considerable financial allocations. Soto solves many problems, including the massive lack of production if Aaron Judge is forced to miss any time. On paper, the Yankees would have one of the best rotations in baseball with Yamamoto, given they managed to stay healthy, which has been a significant concern for players like Rodon and Cortes lately.