When Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman stated earlier this off-season that they needed two lefty bats to support the outfield, he certainly didn’t hold back regarding the quality of his acquisitions.
Decision Looms – Soto, Verdugo, or Both?
Balancing Contracts and Future Outlook
Landing Juan Soto is enough to overturn an entire offensive outlook, and the Yankees now have him batting next to Aaron Judge. While Alex Verdugo is coming off a season with the Boston Red Sox, he has the capacity to be a high batting average and above-average hitter.
However, both Verdugo and Soto are in the final year of arbitration, so the Yankees will have to either sign both to long-term extensions or decide which one they want to splash the cash on.
The Future of Yankees’ Outfield: Prospects Emerging
Obviously, retaining Soto, a 25-year-old lefty slugger in the middle of a Hall of Fame career, makes the most sense. With that being said, an opening will occur in 2025, most likely in left field.
Manager Aaron Boone already suggested that Soto would be playing the majority of his defensive reps in right field, moving Aaron Judge to centerfield full-time.
Fortunately, the Yankees have a few talented outfield prospects preparing to make the jump to the MLB. We already saw a glimpse of Jasson Dominguez, a 20-year-old switch hitter who smashed four homers with seven RBIs over just eight MLB games. Having launched a homer off Justin Verlander, it is safe to say that Dominguez will be ready to make an impact next season as a starter.
On the other hand, the Yankees have Spencer Jones, a freak athlete at 6’6″ and 235 pounds. Jones is trying to emulate Judge as a slugger in Yankee Stadium, but from the left side of the batter’s box, there’s plenty to be excited about.
Jones struggled a bit to find his groove this past season in the minors, but his power is generational, and he stole 43 bags in the process. If he can increase his batting average and on-base percentage, reducing his whiff and strike-out rates, Jones has the capacity to be a superstar, let alone a simple contributor.
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Immediately, the Yankees have two outfield prospects preparing to make the jump, which will end up burying their No. 3 overall prospect, according to MLB.com.
Everson Pereira, who spent 27 games with the Yankees to close the 2023 season, has plenty of upside. Unfortunately, Pereira hit .151/233/.194 over 103 plate appearances at the highest level. He collected 10 RBIs with a 38.8% strikeout rate and 23 wRC+. Pereira struggled to make the transition to the next level, despite hitting 312/.386/.551 over 35 Triple-A appearances.
It would be silly to ignore Pereira’s upside offensively and versatility as a defensive piece. However, the Yankees simply don’t have enough roster spots to hand out with Jones and Dominguez waiting on the wing.
It is more likely that Perera will be utilized as a trade piece at the summer deadline to reinforce the starting rotation. It will be difficult to watch Pereira rot in Triple-A this upcoming season, but the Yankees have their sites set on Dominguez recovering from Tommy John surgery and Jones correcting some of his flaws from last season.
Pereira has the capacity to be a starter in the outfielder; he just needs more reps. The Yankees won’t have enough opportunities to hand out to all three players, so Pereira may end up being the sacrificial lamb on the trade market.