Brian Cashman, like everyone involved with the Yankees, shared his excitement about having an opportunity to have Juan Soto and pair him with Aaron Judge. The trades for outfielders Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, and Trent Grisham have put the Yankees in a new situation where they have not only added left-handed hitting, but youth and athleticism as well. For long-time General Manager Brian Cashman, who pulled off the blockbuster late last night, the focus remains on the right now, as the team looks to acquire pitching and sort out the rest of their winter.
In his first media availability session since the two big trades, Cashman opened up about the team’s needs moving forward, as the Yankees look to put a disappointing 2023 season behind them.
Yankees’ Outfield Alignment, the Need For Pitching, and Juan Soto Extension Talks
Brian Cashman was immediately met with questions regarding the newly acquired superstar outfielder, as Juan Soto looks to electrify the Bronx once more. While they understand it’s a “potentially short-term situation”, it’s still early in Soto’s tenure in New York, so not having extension talks with Scott Boras shouldn’t sound off any alarms just yet. There’s a track record of Boras clients not extending with their ballclub and opting for the free agent market instead, and Cashman reiterated that the focus is on “right now” as the team looks to win a World Series in 2024.
Talks with the Padres occurred at the trade deadline, where Cashman revealed that AJ Preller had made names of interest for San Diego clear. It was a “precursor” to the eventual winter deal according to Cashman, who also mentioned that Omar Minaya had been involved in these conversations as well. The Yankees wanted to add a superstar, and they got theirs in Soto, as the Yankees aim to remain the “mecca of baseball” in Cashman’s words. It was also cleared up that there was so medical snag in the deal, and that the wait came from the thorough medical review process involved for San Diego.
Some tidbits regarding the 27-year-old outfielder included being asked about his benching this past season, where Cashman seemed confident in the team’s vetting process. He referred to Verdugo as a “gamer” and cited rivalry games as evidence of that competitive nature, and also added that they were looking to acquire him at the deadline as well, affirming his belief that Verdugo will be an impact outfielder. Trent Grisham was a player that Cashman wanted to make sure people didn’t forget as well, and the defensive value that he brings to the table is certainly notable.
Harkening back to Hal Steinbrenner’s comments last month, he mentioned wanting the team to get younger, and captain Aaron Judge mentioned wanting guys who can play 162 games, and they got both of these things with that trio of outfielders. All three of them are 27 or younger, with strong bills of health and multiple seasons playing over 140 games, something the team heavily lacked last season. Judge was one of the casualties of an injury bug that wouldn’t go away with two separate IL stints, most notably when he crashed into a right field wall in Los Angeles.
When asked about who the centerfielder of the team would be, Brian Cashman said that if today was Opening Day, Aaron Judge would be in center. In regards to the toe injury, Cashman mentioned that the team feels as if the injury is “resolved” and “behind” the power-hitting outfielder, with Boone and Judge already having preliminary conversations regarding the idea. Their outfield is “set” according to Cashman, but he also left the door open for any potential opportunities that become available.
Pitching will become a priority for the Yankees, as while Brian Cashman “likes” the pitching the Yankees have, he confirmed that the team will be looking for all kinds of pitching help. The rotation and bullpen will be focal points as the team looks to shore up a pitching staff that lost some notable contributors over the week, as they’ll look to “on-load” pitchers over the winter. The Yankees are motivated to continue improving and mentioned that the team will have “more work to do” over the coming weeks.
With three outfielders headlined by Juan Soto in hand, the Yankees are in an excellent spot following the Winter Meetings, as they look to navigate through the rest of the winter with World Series aspirations.