The New York Yankees are in the hunt to land impending free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger in the offseason but could miss out on another elite slugger at the price tag that he will generate.
Yankees Could Invest in Rising Bellinger After Down Seasons
Bellinger had a resurgent regular season for the Chicago Cubs in 2023 after his play diminished in the years following his 2019 MVP run.
Bellinger hit 26 home runs and enjoyed a career-low 15.7 percent strikeout rate alongside career-highs in stolen bases (20) and his first time hitting above .300 (.307 BA). Coming off of a one-year, $17.5 million deal, Bellinger’s return to All-Star caliber play will put him in an advantageous position to secure another favorable contract.
The Yankees are up to their neck in salaries for 2024, where they owe an excess of $189 million in total payroll. San Diego Padres LF Juan Soto will also hit the free agent market next winter, and his fourth-best 109 RBIs among all league hitters, coupled with his $23 million annual salary, makes him an even more expensive option.
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Is Soto the Better Option For New York?
New York won’t be able to afford both Bellinger and Soto and as a slugger, Soto is a superior home run hitter with a much better OBP of .410.
The Padres would like to ink Soto to a long-term extension but are also entertaining a potential trade if retaining him falls through the woodwork. Should the latter fail, Soto would be an upgrade over Everson Pereira in left field and bolster the Yankees offense in hopes of reclaiming a World Series crown in 2025.
Bellinger widely outpaces Soto in fielding peripherals with more putouts and assists along with the same amount of errors (3) but has done so in 165 more chances. Both present viable options for New York, and the coming months will determine what course of action the franchise takes.