Soto and Harper
by Paul Semendinger
October 14, 2023
In 2019, the Yankees made a colossal mistake by failing to sign Bryce Harper.
There is word that Juan Soto could be available this offseason by trade. If he's not extended, he will be a free agent next year. The Yankees, absolutely, 100%, have to be all-in on Juan Soto whether they get him by trade this year (and then give him an extension) or by signing him after next season if he reaches free agency.
Juan Soto fills many needs.
He is a lefty power bat (averaging 33 home runs over 162 games).
He is an on-base machine (leads all of active MLB in OBP).
He hits for a high batting average (.290+ three times, .300+ two times).
He is young. He will be in his age-25 season next year, his seventh big league season. At the age when many prospects are just starting, he's already a seasoned and proven veteran.
He is durable (averaging over 150 games played every year).
I believe his star will shine even brighter in New York. He is THE player the Yankees need to get.
The Yankees passed on Bryce Harper. In many ways, Juan Soto is as good, or better, than Bryce Harper was after six seasons. Take a look:
Through 6 Seasons:
Games: Soto 779, Harper 768
Hits: Soto 768, Harper 785
Runs: Soto 527,Harper 507
Doubles: Soto 148, Harper 149
Triples: Soto 11, Harper 18
Home Runs: Soto 160, Harper 150
RBI: Soto 483, Harper 421
Batting Average: Soto .284, Harper .285
On-Base Percentage: Soto .421, Harper .386
Slugging Percentage: Soto .524, Harper ..515
OPS: Soto .946, Harper .902
OPS+: Soto 157, Harper 140
WAR: Soto 28.7, 26.0
Juan Soto is a once-in-a-generation type player. (To be fair, there are usually a few once-in-a-generation players playing at any time, but he's in that rare group of young superstars. Might Ronald Acuna be better? Sure. But Acuna is not available. Was Mike Trout better than Bryce Harper? Yes, but Mike Trout wasn't available. The general point stands.)
Juan Soto is a player who the Yankees have to pull out all stops to acquire. To me, this isn't even a question, at all. For the Yankees to get back to being the Yankees, they have to play big. Getting Juan Soto is playing big. He will still be in his prime when Aaron Judge starts his decline. If it takes a few years for the Yankees to get back, time is still on Juan Soto's side.
To be clear, Juan Soto will not solve all of the Yankees' problems and needs, but he will go a long way to making the Yankees better in 2024 and for the next decade after.