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New York Yankees Team Preview

New York Yankees Team Preview

The Yankees made the most significant offensive offseason trade, acquiring Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres for Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and catcher Kyle Higashioka. Soto signed a one-year/31 million-dollar deal. Soto will assume right-field duties, moving Aaron Judge to center field full-time. Soto immediately boosts a lineup that finished in the bottom ten most offensive categories last year. On top of his improvement to the Yankees lineup, Soto should see his numbers improve heading to the short-porched Yankee Stadium. The projected Yankee lineup for this season might be the most balanced they’ve had in a few years, but they only have two players in their lineup who have come up through their system (Judge / Thorpe). 

In addition to Soto, the Yankees acquired Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox in a surprising trade. This is Verdugo’s second trade after being sent to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts deal back in 2020. At one time, Verdugo was the Dodgers’ top prospect. While Verdugo hasn’t lived up to the hype he once had as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect, he brings significant depth to the Yankees lineup and locks down the Yankees outfield as their everyday starter. Verdugo should have an opportunity to have the best year of his career as a lefty bat with the short wall and the Yankees lineup in front of him. While Verdugo may not be a household name this season, I expect him to be one of the Yankees’ most consistent and productive hitters behind Judge and Soto. 

The Yankees lineup is filled with stars looking to rebuild themselves this year. Giancarlo Stanton leads that category, especially after GM Brian Cashman’s critical comments about his health. Stanton’s agent publicly warned free agents about the mental and physical expectations of playing for the Yankees. To Cashman’s credit, Stanton has played more than 110 games once since 2018, hitting .211 and .191 these past two seasons. For Stanton to rebuild, he needs to play over 140 games while batting .270 or better and returning to the 35 home run range. Stanton is slated to do so with his 2024 Spring Training performance hitting .317 with a three-homerun game. The Yankees will receive a massive boost in their lineup if Stanton can stay anywhere relative to his preseason performance. I’m buying in on Stanton, especially with his current ADP in fantasy drafts. 

Another hitter looking to rebuild themselves this year is Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo had the worst year of his career last year, hitting .224 with 12 home runs in only 99 games played. Rizzo is typically a 140+ game player and like Stanton, is off to a torrid start in Spring Training. The biggest concern I have to rebound for the Yankees is D.J. LeMahieu. LeMahieu would be the better leadoff fit for the Yankees if he can return to his batting-champion form, but those days for him are likely over. I expect DJ to become a revolving player for the Yankees with them looking to upgrade his position throughout the season. 

Anthony Volpe, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Jose Trevino round out the bottom three of the Yankees lineup, with Volpe having the highest ceiling. In his rookie season, Volpe struggled at the plate but still hit 20 home runs. I usually expect second-year players to struggle, but Volpe’s most significant issues were his chase and K rate and I don’t expect those to get worse. The more plate appearances Volpe gets the better he should do. I expect him to feel less pressure to succeed immediately with the addition of Soto and Verdugo with a healthy Stanton and Rizzo ahead of him. 

The immediate concerns for the Yankees come on the mound with Gerrit Cole out for the first few months and potentially the season. Cole leaves a Cy Young-sized gap in the Yankees’ rotation. Carlos Rodon comes as the number one and won’t come near Cole’s ability. Rodon has had two good years in his career while pitching in arguably the worst division in the majors. If the Yankees want to compete for a World Series this year, they must improve this rotation. Marcus Stroman signed a 2-year 37 million dollar contract in the off-season to be the Yankees number three starter. Stroman has been a consistent starter in the league over his career and will be expected to provide a more significant role with Cole down moving up to their number two. Rodon and Stroman could have helped carry this rotation with Cole as the anchor but without him and a questionable bullpen, the Yankees lineup will be relied on even more.

This Yankees lineup and rotation should look significantly different come the middle of the season. If the Yankees struggle early, they will have decisions to make by the deadline, with impending free agents in Soto, Rizzo, Verdugo, Torres, and Cole having an opt-out. I like the Yankees this year for the first time in a while. I expect the Yankees lineup to rebound significantly and for them to make a decent push for the World Series. They still have yet to conquer the Astros and they will need to make some moves to the rotation to get there but I believe they will. 

 

Official Plays:

  • New York Yankees to Score 1+ Run in Every Regular Season Game Before All-Star Break (DK) +2500: 1u
Nightghost
Author: Nightghost

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