|The Yankees welcoming Juan Soto on X @Yankees.
The Yankees' offseason makeover went into overdrive on Wednesday, as they completed their much-anticipated trade with the San Diego Padres to acquire outfielder Juan Soto, one of the best hitters in baseball.
Outfielder Trent Grisham will also be coming to The Bronx in the trade, in which they sent pitchers Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and Drew Thorpe, plus catcher Kyle Higashioka, to the Padres.
One of the Yankees' weaknesses last season was their lack of depth in the outfield, and it has been addressed so comprehensively in 24 hours - starting Tuesday night when they brought in Alex Verdugo from Boston, then adding Soto and Grisham - it now could be the best part of their club.
The Yankees will likely have Verdugo in left field, Aaron Judge return to center field, and Soto in right, with Grisham and Giancarlo Stanton (primarily a designated hitter) available as well.
Speaking of Judge, having him and Soto back-to-back in the Yankee lineup certainly could restore the Bronx Bomber offense as well. Soto will be the first left-handed slugger the Yankees have had in quite some time, arguably since Mark Teixeira retired and before him, Robinson Cano. After all, Yankee Stadium has always been ideal for left-handed hitters with the short porch in right field.
Last season, in his only full one as a member of the Padres, Soto hit .275 with a .410 on-base percentage, and a .519 slugging percentage, and he hit 35 home runs, with 109 RBI, 132 walks, 32 doubles, 1 triple, and 12 stolen bases, with just 129 strikeouts in 162 games. He led the Major Leagues in walks, and set career highs in home runs and games played, while matching his career bests in doubles and stolen bases. He was one of just four Major League players to play in all 162 games in the season. Soto was tied for second in both the Majors overall and the National League in game-winning RBI (16), ranked third in on-base percentage (second in the National League), tied for fourth in the Majors (also tied for third in the NL) in runs batted in, and was eighth in OPS (.930), which ranked fifth in the NL.
Judge, who was on pace to win his second straight Most Valuable Player award before he missed massive time due to injuries, had 37 home runs and 75 RBI, while hitting .267 with a .406 on-base percentage, in 106 games in 2023. This came after he hit 62 home runs the prior season, which set the new American League and Yankees franchise records.
Soto, still just 25 years old, has been a star ever since he joined the Washington Nationals in 2018, and helped lead them to a World Series in 2019. He then joined the Padres at the trade deadline in 2022, and was part of their late-season surge to a surprise appearance in the National League Championship Series.
In his six Major League seasons, Soto has 160 home runs, 483 RBI, and hit .284 with a .421 OBP and .524 slugging %, with 640 walks, 148 doubles, 11 triples, and 50 stolen bases.
Soto is set up to be a free agent after the 2024 season, but if he flourishes in The Bronx, as his new teammate, Judge, did in '22, it could be not only the bounceback season the Yankees need, but many seasons with them as the tandem that restores October glory to The Bronx.