Yankees’ new left fielder could be one-and-done with big contracts on the horizon

MLB: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees, alex verdugo
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees‘ managing partner, Hal Steinbrenner, has recently made statements reflecting the dual challenges of financial sustainability and the desire to secure star player Juan Soto for the long term. His comments highlight a balancing act between cost-cutting measures and committing to a potentially massive contract for Soto.

Yankees Navigating Financial Waters

Steinbrenner has openly discussed the need to reduce the Yankees’ expenditures, describing the current financial trajectory as unsustainable. At the same time, he has expressed a strong interest in offering Juan Soto a lifetime contract, which would represent one of the franchise’s most significant financial commitments. This juxtaposition of goals suggests that the Yankees may need to make strategic financial decisions elsewhere on the roster to accommodate such a substantial investment.

One potential area for cost reduction is the outfield, specifically concerning left fielder Alex Verdugo. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox, Verdugo has been effective in stabilizing the left field position and has contributed notably in the cleanup spot, providing both offensive and defensive reliability.

MLB: New York Yankees at Milwaukee Brewers, alex verdugo
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

This season, Verdugo is batting .261 with a .325 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage, including six home runs and 27 RBIs. He boasts a 113 wRC+, a 10.5% strikeout rate, and a 9.1% walk rate. His performance with runners in scoring position has been particularly strong, batting .314 with an .871 OPS.

Despite these contributions, Verdugo’s future with the team might be uncertain due to financial strategy. He is expected to command a salary of around $20 million per season. The Yankees could potentially free up this amount by not retaining other players such as Gleyber Torres or by deciding against picking up the club option on Anthony Rizzo’s contract, which would count $17 million against the salary cap.

The decision to potentially move on from Verdugo after just one year may be tough but is considered against the backdrop of rising prospects like Spencer Jones and Jasson Dominguez, who are expected to compete for the left field position next year. This shift would allow the Yankees to allocate significant financial resources towards securing Soto, aiming to ensure his elite performance remains a cornerstone of the team’s strategy.

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