Yankees may finally be willing to trade prospects for star-power

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Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com, North Jersey Record via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The New York Yankees stand poised to make pivotal decisions in the upcoming free agency, potentially shaking up their roster for the 2024 season.

Aggressive Strategy for Top Talent

As the Yankees look to bolster their lineup, they may break past patterns and spend big on a star player like Juan Soto, who is projected to command a $30 million salary in his final arbitration year. Management’s historical hesitation to trade prospects for star power may shift, given the strength of their farm system.

Balancing Trades and Free Agency

Although the Yankees are traditionally known for their free-agency splurges, the tide may be turning.

USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale suggested the Yankees could be looking to trade prospects, overpaying big money on the free agent market.

“Teams don’t expect the Yankees to spend like the Yankees of old, but of course, will engage with Shohei Ohtani just in case he changes his mind and shows the slightest bit of interest. The biggest change, rivals say, may be their willingness now to part with prospects for immediate help. They’re expected to have serious trade talks with the Padres about (Juan) Soto to see if there’s a potential fit now, or in the future.”

Soto and Ohtani: The Ideal Fits

If the Yankees want to acquire a player like Soto, he would be the perfect fit. At 25 years old and three consecutive years with at least 150 games played, Soto is the epitome of durability and youth. This past campaign, he hit .275 with a .410 OBP, and .519 slugging rate, including 35 homers, 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+. While he may be a slight liability defensively, his offensive production makes up for it tenfold.

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May 26, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting a two run home run against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With concerns raised by Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole about the lineup’s balance and depth, acquiring a player of Soto’s caliber could provide the Yankees with necessary offensive support. Furthermore, despite Stanton’s large contract, adding Ohtani’s bat to the mix would offer significant value.

Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-September, so he’s expected to miss the entire 2024 season from a pitching standpoint.

Financial Considerations and Luxury Tax Implications

The pursuit of high-caliber players like Ohtani or Soto will have substantial financial implications. Owner Hal Steinbrenner’s willingness to exceed the luxury tax threshold may be the key to securing such talent, with Ohtani’s potential deal reaching $50 million per year.

Prospect Trades and Future Impact

While the Yankees have the opportunity to roll savings into other investments, their focus might be on leveraging their prospect pool to secure immediate help for 2024. With Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Austin Wells predicted to be integral to the Yankees’ future, other prospects could be considered tradeable assets.

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