After weeks of speculation, the New York Yankees finally got their man, finalizing a blockbuster deal with the San Diego Padres for superstar outfielder Juan Soto (along with center fielder Trent Grisham). From pretty much the moment the offseason began, Soto was the top priority on Brian Cashman’s wish list — exactly the lefty-hitting outfielder New York needed to help fix an offense that ranked just 25th in the league in runs scored in 2023.
But now that Soto and Grisham are officially in pinstripes — and former Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo is joining them — just how does this Yankees lineup stack up? Have last year’s problems been solved, or is there more work to be done? Let’s take a look at where things stand, and where Cashman might still have holes that need to be addressed.
Yankees projected lineup after Juan Soto trade
Aaron Boone has yet to offer a concrete idea of how he envisions the team lining up come Opening Day. But given what we do know — namely, that Yankees brass feels comfortable with Aaron Judge as their primary center fielder — and the players currently on board, here’s how things might look:
1. DJ LeMahieu, 3B
2. Juan Soto, RF
3. Aaron Judge, CF
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
6. Alex Verdugo, LF
7. Gleyber Torres, 2B
8. Anthony Volpe, SS
9. Austin Wells/Jose Trevino, C
You can quibble with the order here; Soto’s prodigious on-base skills make him an ideal leadoff hitter, Torres has more thump in his bat than Verdugo and Rizzo and Stanton certainly didn’t perform like middle-of-the-order bats last season. But LeMahieu was Boone’s leadoff man of choice in 2023, while New York seems to have faith in a bounceback year for both of its injury-plagued sluggers. Plus, this setup allows the Yankees to alternate righties and lefties, throwing a wrench into opponents’ bullpen plans late in games.
At first glance, it’s remarkable what a difference a couple of acquisitions can make. This group feels much, much deeper than last year’s, where guys like Franchy Cordero, Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney were consistently relied upon for meaningful at-bats. Soto finally gives Judge a running mate at the top of the order, while Verdugo is another professional hitter that lengthens the lineup a bit — having Torres, an above-average hitter, in the No. 7 hole is a luxury a lot of teams won’t have. And if Volpe makes the sort of strides he hinted at late in what was a tough rookie year overall, look out.
Still, It’s also clear that Cashman’s work isn’t quite done yet. For starters, this remains a lineup reliant on several major injury risks, from Judge to LeMahieu to Rizzo to Stanton — and much like last year, there’s not a ton of depth waiting in the wings should one or several of those names go down. The team still believes in the potential of Oswald Peraza, but adding another infielder — preferably a third baseman, to take some of the burden off of the aging LeMahieu — feels like a must. (Jeimer Candelario stands out as a potential fit here.) It’s also unclear who the fourth outfielder might be, with Jasson Dominguez out for at least the first couple months of 2024 due to elbow surgery and prospect Everson Pereira struggling mightily in his first taste of MLB action last year.
Soto was exactly what the doctor ordered for New York, but if Cashman stops here, Yankees fans might be lobbing the exact same complaints this time next winter.