Yankees star outfielder trained with former Gold Glove winner in hopes of improving defense

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Juan Soto is one of the best hitters in all of baseball, but defense has never been his calling card. The Yankees are moving him to right field because of the more forgiving dimensions out there, as he has -15 DRS and -19 OAA in his MLB career as an outfielder. This winter has been eventful for the Dominican-born superstar, finding himself traded for the second time in less than two years, but he’s still been working diligently to improve parts of his game, spending the winter working alongside one of the best defensive outfielders the American League has seen in the last 15 years.

According to Andy Martino of SNY, the star outfielder has been working with Jackie Bradley Jr. in Miami this offseason, hoping to make some strides with his routes as he adjusts to a new ballpark in the Bronx.

Juan Soto Looking to Improve Defense With Yankees

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Luis Rojas is the Yankees’ third base coach, but he now also serves the role of their outfield coach as well, and he’ll be working with some new faces this season. Juan Soto is among three new outfielders on the Yankees’ projected 26-man roster, and he’s the one who has the most work to do in the outfield. Born in the Dominican Republic just like Juan Soto, the former manager for the New York Mets is also the general manager for the Leones del Escogido, a Dominican Winter League team.

When watching how Fernando Tatis Jr. handled the outfield transition and seeing him play in person, Rojas told Andy Martino about the swagger that he possesses, and how he hopes to bring that out for Soto defensively.

I think I’ve seen the swag, like pimping some fly balls, letting balls just fall into the glove, and then playing with them. Let’s see how he feels. If he’s more comfortable that he wants to do those things, as long as he’s making the plays, I’m good with it. He enjoys the game of baseball.

Luis Rojas

Everyone knows Juan Soto is more than just a great ballplayer, he’s also an entertainer with his shuffles in the batter’s box and flashy personality, but those things are a reflection of his confidence, not just a matter of taunting his opponent.

These mannerisms are a huge part of what makes Juan Soto so great with the bat, and the Yankees are hoping that can translate to his glove. The right field is a lot less demanding in terms of range compared to left field at Yankee Stadium, and Juan Soto has a solid arm that could play well in the smaller dimensions. He ranked in the 82nd Percentile in Arm Value last season (+2) and he could get even better after spending the winter working with a premier defender like Jackie Bradley Jr.

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My strength has got to be definitely coming in on the ball and trying to grab those bloopers from the other side…I want to improve … in my arm and throwing and going into the gaps.

Juan Soto

We’ll have to wait and see what those improvements look like, but it should be noted that Soto has been a better defender in right field than in left field, and it’s possible that he’s more comfortable there. Even if he were to remain a below-average outfielder, the bat is so good that he’ll still end up finishing somewhere in the AL MVP voting, but any strides he makes defensively could help him provide more value to the Yankees and make even more money next winter.

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