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Sunday Morning Yankees Thoughts

By Patrick Gunn

December 10, 2023


The Yankees and MLB have had quite an eventful week, huh? Juan Soto joins the Yankees, Shohei Ohtani joins the Blue Jays Dodgers, and sleuths on Twitter lost their minds (Jake Mintz wrote a great recap of a ludicrous Friday in MLB social media history). Oh, and the Winter Meetings happened. It finally feels like free agency has started, with big names off the board but plenty of fantastic players still looking for new homes. Here are some of my loose thoughts at this point.

  • Juan Soto is a New York Yankee. Who would’ve thought that four years ago, after Soto led the Nationals to a title in 2019? Or even a year ago, after the Padres signed Xander Bogaerts following an NLCS run? The fact that Soto playing at a near-MVP level has been traded twice at age 25 befuddles me. Regardless, let’s enjoy what’s in front of us: one of the best hitters in the game, a true left-handed power hitter, has joined the Yankees. He might be the best left-handed power hitter the Yankees have brought in since….Curtis Granderson? Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo? And Soto is better than all of them.

  • I will miss Michael King, certainly. He shined the last three seasons, elevating his game coming out of the bullpen and proving himself in the rotation at the end of last year. With that said, I would trade him to bring in Soto 10 out of 10 times. Paul did a great job articulating his thoughts, but King is a great player. Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and Drew Thorpe are incredibly talented pitchers. Kyle Higashioka is a great clubhouse presence and solid pitch framer. Juan Soto is a generational talent. The Yankees needed offense desperately after the last three seasons of struggles and they needed an elite left-handed hitter. Yes, Brian Cashman gave up a lot, but Soto deserves a major trade package, even if Soto is just a rental.

  • Now, the Yankees made another trade this week that I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, the Yankees gave up very little for Alex Verdugo (Greg Weissert had his moments, and it does look like Richard Fitts could be talented, but not essential). On the other hand…I am not a huge Verdugo fan. At least the Yankees did not give up Gleyber Torres for him, but he was just fine. He is a great contact hitter (15.4 K%) but he also is not a power hitter, or a guy who gets on base a ton, or a lockdown fielder. And his Statcast profile suggests he may not even get a power boost from the short porch: he doesn’t pull the ball that much or hit many fly balls. He’s just…alright and he’s coming off a meh season. Remarkably, though, Verdugo’s league average of 100 OPS+ would’ve been third on the Yankees behind Aaron Judge and Torres. He also would’ve been better than most of the outfielders the Yankees had last season. But does being an improvement over an abysmal offense make him a player worth acquiring? I will give Verdugo a chance and he does have a knack for getting clutch hits, but I could also see him becoming another version of Josh Donaldson if he doesn’t hit.

  • I shouldn’t forget about Trent Grisham, the other outfielder coming to the Yankees. He probably will not help the Yankees much on offense (.208 BA, .309 OBP, .369 SLG over the last three seasons) - but he can get on base (13.5 BB% last season) and he plays fantastic defense in centerfield (+& OAA). He is by no means a game-changer, but a solid fourth outfielder with potential for more. I do wonder if he’ll get more starts down the stretch if Verdugo struggles or if the Yankees want to keep Judge out of centerfield, but they’ll have to cross that bridge when they get there. Verdugo is probably a slightly better overall player because of his bat, but Grisham could be a more impactful player.

  • As far as needs go: these trades have dwindled the Yankees’ pitching depth a bit. Clarke Schmidt is still a Yankee, and so are Clayton Beeter, Yoendrys Gómez, Chase Hampton (who probably is not MLB-ready yet), and Will Warren. They also should be getting Scott Effross and Luis Gil back from Tommy John surgery at some point during the year, so that will help. Resigning Wandy Peralta should help; so would getting healthy seasons from Effross, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Ian Hamilton (and a better year from Ron Marrinaccio). Getting a big name in the bullpen market could help - a Josh Hader or Jordan Hicks - but I think the Yankees could get by without them.

  • Where they do need help is the rotation. Gerrit Cole is Gerrit Cole, and you’d hope for better seasons from Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes. Beyond Clarke Schmidt, the depth is much thinner than last year (Gómez is the Yankees’ fifth starter on their depth chart). So, the Yankees could use at least one starter. Yoshinobu Yamamoto would be a game-changer a number two behind Cole and an ace for years to come. But other teams want him badly, too; the Yankees are going to have to dig deep and pay up to bring him in. After Yamamoto, another solid veteran/flier could help, maybe reuniting with Frankie Montas or giving a Lucas Giolito or Jack Flaherty a shot. Or maybe even reaching out to Shota Imanaga’s camp - or the Brewers on the price for Corbin Burnes or even the White Sox on Dylan Cease. The Yankees do still have most of their position player prospects/young players on the roster who may not have as much playing time available next season.

  • That's just my thoughts at the moment. What do you think the Yankees need to do?

13 comentarios

10 dic 2023

Do not assume Soto is just a rental! ...King is a good reliever and the other three pitchers might be incredibly talented but mostly unproven so IMO Yankees didn't overpay in this trade contrary to popular belief/

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10 dic 2023

As crazy as it might be ..... if Carlos Rodon has anything left and has an average year the SP will be improved, so maybe another pitcher won't be as necessary if they whiff on Yamamoto until the trade deadline. Big if...

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
11 dic 2023
Contestando a

I hate to say it, but Rodon looks like one of those "Can't Pitch in New York" guys. He did not impress even when he was able to get on the field, and the mound tantrum did not endear him to me.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
10 dic 2023

Cashman did his most personal shopping - got enough OF talent to make Florial a goner. On the flip side, I see no matter how much I don't want him do it, I see Cashman re-signing Montas.

IMO, the Verdugo trade was not based in analytics. Yes, they will point to all the underlining numbers, but truth is the Yankees targeted lefty swinging OFers. Could've been just easily a bunch of other guys.

I still see the Yankees signing Yamamoto or Imanaga for the rotation.

I still have my doubts that Schmidt is on this team, especially if they sign Montas (yuch!) and Yamamoto or Imanaga. Schmidt at that point just becomes to valuable of a trade chip, to no…

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10 dic 2023

Yamamoto and another starter. the other one relatively inexpensive and "mature", available on a short-term deal.

the Yankees like strike-outs from their pitchers, so, someone akin to Paxton.

Schmidt merits a shot at remaining a starter, but having a guy capable of competing for that 5th spot is good...and Schmidt might provide good service as a spot starter and multi-inning relief guy.

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10 dic 2023

I don't want the best rotation in the majors, at least not as so described over the winter. That never seems to pan out.

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