The New York Yankees made the biggest splash of the offseason so far on Wednesday night when they acquired four-time Silver Slugger Juan Soto.
Soto has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four times in his six MLB seasons, including sixth place last year, and he fills a hole the Yankees desperately needed.
It could be a one-year rental, as Soto is slated to hit free agency after the 2024 season, but no matter the case, Soto is one of the most talented players to set foot on a field.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Thursday that if it were opening day, Aaron Judge, a Gold Glove-caliber right fielder, would be playing center, and Soto would be in right.
But even though Soto is knocking Judge over to a different position (which he does play adequately), Judge can’t wait to look over to his left and see another superstar in the outfield.
“I’m excited,” Judge said on Fox 5 New York of the Yankees acquiring Soto. “We gave up quite a few pieces to get him, but he’s a generational talent. His track record, his stats speak for themselves. I think everybody in the Yankee universe is pretty excited to have him on board… We’ll have some fun.”
The Yanks sent MLB pitcher Michael King, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and three pitching prospects to the San Diego Padres, but the Yanks ranked 29th in batting average and 24th in runs scored as they were trying to plug in just about anybody in a scarce outfield.
Now, the Yankees outfield is set, as they also acquired Alex Verdugo on Tuesday.
But the Yankees, Judge says, aren’t done yet.
“We’ve made some big moves the past couple of days and looking forward to making a couple more, but it’s gonna be a fun season, I think, for Yankee fans,” he said.
The Yankees figure to be one of the favorites for Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who some believe could venture a $300 million deal.
Soto had a down 2022 but showed his talent this past season by hitting .275 with 35 homers, 109 RBI, and a .930 OPS. He led the majors in walks last season (132) for the third time in his career. While that still isn’t his best work, his career numbers show that it should surprise nobody if he’s even better. In his career, he owns a .946 OPS while hitting .284 and has the highest on-base percentage (.421) among active players.