"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


[Photo Credit: Ryan Casey Aguinaldo via Wikimedia Commons]

The Yankees, it seems, are still the Yankees.

After watching along with the rest of us as the Yankees slogged their way through an 82-80 season, general manager Brian Cashman took the first step towards a return to relevance by swinging the deal that he had to make, sending Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, Drew Thorpe, and Kyle Higashioka to San Diego for Juan Soto and Trent Grisham.

That’s a big haul for San Diego, and it’s a shame that we won’t get to watch the continued development of Michael King, but think about this. The Yankees entered the off season needing to fill a hole in left field and get a left-handed hitter, and on Wednesday evening they acquired not just the best available player fitting that description but one of the best young hitters in the history of the game. There are six players in baseball history with a .940 OPS, 150 home runs, and 500 runs all before turning 25 — Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Albert Pújols, Mike Trout, and Soto. Want another fun statistic? Soto has 640 career walks and only 577 career strikeouts. This kid is different.

This is a player who would fit nicely in any lineup in any city, but think for a minute about what the Yankee lineup will look like with Soto. If we assume that Aaron Boone will pencil in Aaron Judge in the second spot in the order as usual, that puts Soto hitting third, Giancarlo Stanton fourth, Anthony Rizzo fifth, and Gleyber Torres sixth. Those five hitters, alternating right-left-right-left-right, will strike fear into the heart of any opposing pitcher, and I can’t wait to watch.

If there’s a criticism of the deal, it’s that it comes with no guarantee that Soto will be a Yankee for more than just the 2024 season. He’s certain to test free agency, but that’s a year from now. Tonight, he’s a Yankee. And that’s a pretty good thing.

Categories:  1: Featured  Hank Waddles  Hot Stove

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1 jaynek   ~  Dec 7, 2023 12:58 am

wooh! I'm excited. The offense needed a jolt.

2 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Dec 7, 2023 1:30 am

Thanks for the post Hank, I knew you’d come through with something right away!
Man, Juan Soto…this guy is historically good, now they have to sign him. I’d likely have tuned out next year if Verdugo was the only move, now Judge-Soto-Stanton is just a fearsome 2-3-4..let’s get to April!

3 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 7, 2023 6:15 am

This is awesome but now I'm feeling greedy - Yamamoto next, please!

I will miss watching King pitch, and I hope he does well in SD, but I'm not convinced he will hold up as a starter and when you can add Juan Soto it doesn't matter!

4 knuckles   ~  Dec 7, 2023 7:07 am

I think this deal was worth doing and would put a hard press on extending him ASAP.
Doubt it’ll happen but they should try.

Yamamoto as well would show that for as many flaws as the Yankee front office has, they are also committed to going and getting the best available players again sometimes.

The Verdugo move though…why?

5 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 7, 2023 8:47 am

I'm stoked!!!!!!

Imagine how pleased Aaron Judge must be.

6 Evil Empire   ~  Dec 7, 2023 10:14 am

[5] I'm more stoked than I thought I would be - I suppose because Dominguez and/or Volpe didn't get included. Soto balances the lineup with his left handedness and he'll only be 25.

He's got a lifetime OPS+ of 157 and should benefit from playing in Yankee Stadium.

Hopefully, Yamamoto is next.

I'm giddy, but I still wish we had a better manager.

[2] I'm going to predict that Stanton is dealt for a bag of balls with the Yankees picking up most of his contract.

7 Hank Waddles   ~  Dec 7, 2023 2:11 pm

I think we have to hope that Soto falls in love with New York, with the fans, and with the short porch. I have no doubt that all three of these things will happen.

First of all, the fans will love him. All of his antics in the batter's box might rankle opposing teams, but I have no doubt that every kid in the Bronx will be doing the Soto Shuffle each time they take a pitch. (Speaking of kids in the Bronx, Oswaldo Cabrera already has own version, certainly inspired by his new teammate.)

I think what we really, really have to hope for is that he comes out of the box strong. The only way this can go sideways is if he hits .150 in April and the short-sighted folks in the stands start booing. But there's really no reason to think he won't hit at least 25 home runs in the Stadium alone. This will still be Judge's team, but Soto will provide more than just offense. He's bringing electricity.

Hopefully a year from now he's looking back at the best season of his career. It won't lower his price tag, but it'll make it more likely that he wants to stay where he is rather than head off someplace new with unknown variables.

And Yamamoto? Yes, please!

8 Hank Waddles   ~  Dec 7, 2023 2:15 pm

One other thing that I should've included in my original post. Kyle Higashioka. With the emergence of Austin Wells, there didn't seem to be a place for Higgy in 2024, but he was always one of my favorites. I'll miss him, and I truly hope he does well in San Diego.

9 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 7, 2023 2:45 pm

I've heard a bunch of not-so-thrilled responses so far. They gave up too much pitching, Soto is going to flop, Judge has to DH. I dunno. Last year, the Yanks became worse than bad—they became boring, uninteresting, irrelevant. Guy like Juan Soto changes that. I've been jolted back to consciousness. The past few seasons I’ve become a mild fan. Habitual but disengaged. This puts a jolt back in things in a pleasant way.

10 rob_smith_51   ~  Dec 7, 2023 2:47 pm

Maybe the Yanks could do Soto lead off and Judge 2nd. Not much protection for Judge, but lots of base runners in the first inning with fewer than 1 out.

11 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Dec 7, 2023 3:22 pm

[8] Second that. Good guy.

[10] Everybody's still projecting DJLM at leadoff, which seems like a scary big bet on a big bounce-back.

Soto's OBP is intriguing at leadoff... but putting that SLG% in front of empty bases ~20 percent of the time would sting a bit.

Question is, who (among current options) jumps out at you to lead off?

12 Hank Waddles   ~  Dec 7, 2023 3:46 pm

Two interesting things. Apparently Soto resisted hitting second in San Diego, to the point that he had Boros contact the Padres and tell them he wanted to hit third. Fine. Keep Judge at second and lets enjoy the numbers he puts up with a Hall of Famer hitting behind him. Want to walk Judge? Be my guest.

Also, on the YES broadcast last night, their proposed lineup had Verdugo leading off, followed by the order I included in the post above. Realistically, I could probably bat lead off and that group behind me would still be just fine.

13 Hank Waddles   ~  Dec 7, 2023 3:47 pm

Oh, and I agree -- let's slot DJ lower in the order.

14 rob_smith_51   ~  Dec 7, 2023 6:18 pm

[12] If Soto doesn't like batting 2nd then I doubt he wants to leadoff. Probably best to keep him happy. Verdugo doesn't look that impressive(career .337, high .367), but maybe he would be helped by having 2 superstars bat behind him. If not they can always try DJ or another bat there. Nice problem to have after the anemic lineup last year.

15 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Dec 7, 2023 10:18 pm

Just so no one thinks I’m nuts: The Volpe we saw in 2023 would not be a candidate to lead off.

But I still think somebody screwed him up with bad coaching when he came up. If the Volpe we saw coming out of AAA were to re-emerge and continue to mature, with his baserunning, it would become a possibility worth considering.

16 Shaun P.   ~  Dec 9, 2023 3:23 pm

And now the Dodgers have also flexed - Ohtani for 10 years, $700 million. Gonna be interesting to play those guys next year!

17 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 9, 2023 4:01 pm

Exploring the historic possibilities of a Soto/Judge combination in the lineup ... from fangraphs, yesterday

"Nevertheless, Soto’s arrival in New York offers an opportunity to witness something unusual. Assuming Aaron Boone figures out that Soto should go in front of Aaron Judge in the batting order, we’re about to see the best on-base guy of his generation batting ahead of the best power hitter of his generation.

Personally, I think there’s been too much attention paid to how many home runs Soto could hit when confronted with Babe Ruth’s short porch in right field. Soto has plenty of power, but that’s not his game. He has never hit more than 35 home runs in a season, and has only broken 30 twice in six seasons.

On the other hand, Soto has drawn at least 130 walks in each of the past three seasons. The only other active player with three 130-walk seasons is Joey Votto, and by the time Soto makes his Yankees debut, Votto might be a full-time TikToker and not an active ballplayer. The only player with more 130-walk seasons in the expansion era is Barry Bonds: "


18 knuckles   ~  Dec 9, 2023 4:46 pm

Good for Ohtani. Chavez Ravine was the absolute best landing spot for him in my opinion and I’m personally glad he’s in the NL. Toronto would’ve been awful.

I can’t wait to see the heart of the Yankee lineup this summer. Not saying it’s likely but if G manages to get on a hot streak, Judge, Soto, Stanton, Rizzo, Torres is a RLRLR banger.

19 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Dec 10, 2023 2:09 pm

Soto is wonderful, but he's not Ohtani. It O got $700 for 10 years, I could imagine Soto getting $750 for 15 years. BTW, loved him with the Nats, great teammate.

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 16, 2023 6:52 pm

[19] Out of that $700 million that O got, he will only see $20 million in that 10 years. I just read that the current value of his contract is in the realm of $500 million.

I'll also will miss Higgy. If/when designated as the starting Catcher, I think he will be better than average.

Offensively, Verdugo is a slightly below average hitter for a corner outfielder.

Anyone now pissed at Cashman for the Soto move?

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