Yankees should keep ‘lefty Aaron Judge’ out of trade talks

spencer jones, yankees
Hudson Valley Renegades outfielder Spencer Jones during media day on April 5, 2023. Renegades Media Day

The New York Yankees are trying to put together a suitable trade package for Juan Soto, one that will spark the interest of general manager AJ Preller. Up to this point, talks stalled after Preller demanded Michael King, Drew Thorpe, and several other premium prospects.

The Yankees have already removed several names off the table, but they should add one more in prospect Spencer Jones. At 22 years old, Jones is coming off an exciting season in the minor league system and is looking to compound in 2024.

Starting in A+ ball with Hudson Valley, Jones hit .268 with a .337 OBP, including 13 home runs, 56 RBIs, and 35 stolen bases over 100 games. With Double-A Somerset, he played just 17 games, hitting .261 with a .333 OBP, three home runs, and 10 RBIs.

The current issue with Jones is an increased strikeout rate and poor plate discipline at times. He featured a 29% strikeout right with Hudson Valley and 28.2% with Somerset, suggesting he needs to work on his timing and pitch selection.

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The Yankees are Hoping Spencer Jones Can Follow in Aaron Judge’s Footsteps

Keep in mind that even Aaron Judge struggled in the minors. With Somerset back in 2015, Judge hit .284., with a 350 OBP, including 12 home runs and 44 RBIs with a 25% strikeout rate. In Triple-A, he played 61 games that season, hitting .224 with a .308 OBP, eight homers, 28 RBIs, and a 28.5% strikeout rate.

Over time, Judge experienced a meteoric rise as a hitter, but it required an excessive amount of work and time dedicated to his craft. Jones seems to have that same work ethic, and he certainly doesn’t lack the size at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds. He has incredible raw power and offers good defense to boot in both corner outfield spots.

One day, the Yanks may transition Judge to the designated hitter role, but he is still a few years away. Jones expects to be a key option in the outfield if not transition to first base, where he can help smooth over the loss of Anthony Rizzo. There may be a log jam in the future, especially with Jasson Dominguez climbing up the ranks and expecting to re-join the MLB team after recovering from Tommy Jon surgery. They also have Everson Pereira, another 22-year-old who has substantial upside.

However, selling now on Spencer may be a huge mistake, given his upside and the seemingly similar path to Judge. Improving his launch angle and making more contact, Jones’s lefty bat could be lethal in Yankee Stadium down the road.