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  • E.J. Fagan

All Bad Soto Scenarios Lead to Dominguez

by EJ Fagan

June 10, 2024


NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission. This was published a few days ago so the stats don't include the last few games.

Please check out EJ's substack page for more great articles.


Soto is hurt. Hopefully, he’ll just need a few days of rest, maybe as a DH. In that case, not much happens. But there are a range of bad to really bad scenarios involving an injury. They all run through Jasson Dominguez.

Dominguez is, for all intents and purposes, ready for a call-up. He is now in Triple-A. He has played basically a full Spring training: 17 games over a month, hitting .339/.397/.581. Unlike, say, DJ LeMahieu, I think it’s fair to say that Dominguez is ready to perform at his highest level right now.

Let’s run through some of these scenarios, beginning with the bad one:

The Disaster Scenario: Juan Soto Immediately Undergoes Surgery

I don’t think we’re going to be here. Both the Yankees and Soto do not want him to miss the remainder of the season. Both want the second best hitter in baseball to bat in front of the best in the World Series. I don’t think that a surgery would impact Soto’s free agency much, but there’s that too.

In some ways, this scenario is the easiest to game out. Jasson Dominguez is now your everyday centerfielder. Aaron Judge is your everyday right fielder. Maybe the Yankees more aggressively look for a left-handed bat on the the trade market.

The Bryce Harper Scenario: Juan Soto is a now a DH

Harper was diagnosed with a torn UCL in May of 2022. He couldn’t throw, but could hit. He started the next game at DH, and played most of the season all the way through the World Series. He then had offseason Tommy John surgery and returned to the field in mid-2023.

This scenario is in many ways the most complicated for the Yankees. Giancarlo Stanton isn’t going to DH over Juan Soto. Could he play the field? Probably not all that much. Stanton has not played a single inning in the field in 2024.

I think Jasson Dominguez still becomes your everyday centerfielder in this scenario. He was already knocking on the door when Soto was healthy. Without him, you’re realistically looking at Trent Grisham taking most of Stanton’s playing time, as Stanton can only be good for one or two games a week in right. I was getting ready to write the “DFA Grisham” post, although that ship has probably sailed unless Soto gets a clean bill of health.

Aaron Judge returns to right field. He’s been solid in center, but would be a plus defender in a corner. Soto has been good as well, but I think Judge will catch a lot more balls out there. The Yankees defense improves at two positions with Dominguez in center. However, it gets a little harder to rest Judge with Soto at DH. Maybe that’s good for him in the playoffs, but the Yankees still need to win the division against a tough Orioles team.

What happens to Stanton? I think he’s basically just a really expensive, really bad bench player at this point. Maybe the Yankees sit Soto a bit against lefties to rest him. I doubt he’s tradeable. Stanton will have to learn to pinch hit.

The Gerrit Cole Scenario: Juan Soto Hurt For a Month

Let’s assume that the MRI finds something, but it isn’t going to require surgery. Soto has to DH for 5-6 weeks while waiting to see if swelling goes down. He’s expected to return to the field by the end of the period.

If Soto has to go on the IL rather than just DH, we’re basically in the first scenario. Dominguez gets called up right away. But I don’t see why Soto can’t DH while waiting for his arm to heal. Harper played a full season with a straight up torn UCL.

Are the Yankees tempted to wait to call up Dominguez if Soto is set to DH for a month or two? Maybe. Maybe the Yankees don’t want to yank all of Stanton’s playing time right away. Maybe they want Soto is sit a little more often. The Yankees have put off hard decisions before.

But I don’t think it will happen. Trent Grisham has been horrible this season. He hasn’t regained the speed he lost after a 2023 injury. He’s only earned 52 plate appearances and yet has a -0.5 bWAR. He hit sub-.200 from 2022-2023. I think we’d be in Aaron Hicks world with Grisham playing every day.

Bottom Line: If Soto is a DH, Stanton Can’t Be One

Ask yourself, which lineup do you have more confidence in?

  • Soto DH, Grisham CF, Judge RF, Stanton Bench

  • Soto DH, Dominguez CF, Judge RF, Stanton Bench

That’s the choice. In the first scenario, maybe Stanton plays a really bad corner outfield a few times a week, but we’re still talking about Trent Grisham getting most of the playing time.

I think it’s an easy choice: the lineup with Dominguez is better. A lot better. If we get bad news, at least we get to see if Jasson Dominguez is going to be the major league player that we think he will be.


3 days ago

Dominguez just started playing the outfield last week. He is not close to being ready for MLB everyday stress on the body. He will be in Scranton for a while.

3 days ago
Replying to

if Soto is ready to play, Dominguez will be left to play the field in Scranton.

if Soto hits the IL, the plans will be re-evaluated.

without Soto and without Dominguez, Judge is not well protected

and is likely to be taking frequent walks


Alan B.
Alan B.
3 days ago

Getting Stanton all those years ago was a huge mistake, for so many reasons, and I said it then. But the truth is, maybe the biggest mistake Cashman made last winter was call out Stanton for not being able to stay healthy. Dominguez isn't ready to play the OF every day, so if Soto had to DH, Dominguez would probably play at this point, at best 4-5 times a week in the OF with Grisham playing 2-3 times week. But this probably means that Jahmani Jones gets thrown off the roster so Stanton gets his spot on the bench. Like it or not, a spot that has seen barely any action.

3 days ago
Replying to

Well that's your opinion which you are certainly entitled to but it's not universally shared. When you have a chance to acquire a league MVP in his prime years and you have the financial resources of the Yankees a move like the Stanton trade is what you do. The mistake was not in acquiring Stanton its the reluctance to cut him loose and eat the remaining money when its obvious that the player is no longer viable and his presence on the roster is preventing better options. Hal refuses to do that because to him the bottom line is more important than winning.

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