This off-season, the New York Yankees have made significant strides in strengthening their outfield, most notably with the acquisition of Juan Soto. Manager Aaron Boone is particularly enthusiastic about having Soto and Aaron Judge in the lineup, creating a formidable batting duo that promises to be one of the most lethal in baseball.
Strategic Outfield Positioning
Boone is carefully considering the outfield alignment, planning to position Soto in right field full-time, while Judge is expected to play predominantly in center field.
“I’m planning on playing Judge in center a lot,” Boone said. “He’s preparing for it now. The one thing is, when I play him in center, I tend to use the DH with him a little bit more often. If he’s playing most days in center field, especially with Trent Grisham on the roster now, who’s an elite defender and [adds] more of that balance — he’ll obviously get some reps out there. I can use the DH for Judge there sometimes.
Last season, Judge, now 31 years old, demonstrated his defensive capabilities in center, recording a perfect fielding percentage and showing his familiarity with the position at Yankee Stadium. The addition of Trent Grisham, another key acquisition from the Soto deal, provides further flexibility. Grisham, a two-time Gold Glove winner, brings elite defense and is under team control until 2026.
Boone plans to utilize Judge more frequently as the designated hitter to help quell any fears of injury playing in the center, particularly given Grisham’s defensive skills and his potential to share outfield duties. This strategy aims to maximize the effectiveness of both players while managing their workload.
Grisham’s Role and Potential Growth
Grisham, only 27 years old, represents a cost-effective option for the Yankees, both defensively and offensively. Last season, he demonstrated his durability, playing 153 games with a .198/.315/.352 batting line, including 13 home runs and 50 RBIs. His performance against left-handed pitching was notably better than against right-handers, suggesting a potential platoon role in center field.
While Grisham’s offensive contributions may not appear substantial at first glance, his splits against left-handed pitchers are promising. The Yankees could explore ways to enhance his performance against right-handers, aiming to develop him into a more balanced player.
In 2023, Grisham’s defensive performance was solid, playing over 1,200 innings in center field for the San Diego Padres. His presence significantly upgrades the Yankees’ outfield defense compared to last season, where options like Isiah Kiner-Falefa were less optimal.
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Yankees’ Outfield Transformation and Future Moves
The Yankees’ outfield has undergone a remarkable transformation, with the additions of Soto, Verdugo, and Grisham significantly elevating the team’s capabilities. Last season’s lack of outfield depth has been effectively addressed, providing Boone with various tactical options.
While there are still areas of concern, notably the starting rotation, the Yankees have balanced their immediate needs with future potential. Their rich pool of minor-league talent offers flexibility for future trades, and the team can strategically use the summer trade deadline to address any emerging weaknesses. This approach positions the Yankees well for a competitive season, leveraging their new acquisitions to their fullest potential.