Cashman hails Juan Soto as Yankees’ fulcrum, drops hints at long-term deal

Yankees' slugger Juan Soto at Yankee Stadium on April 22, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Monday April 22, 2024

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The Yankees had their eyes fixed on Juan Soto as early as July 2023 when the team was facing a slump bitten by injury. Once the season was over, General Manager Brian Cashman vowed a turnaround for 2024 and his commitment was solidified by a blockbuster move during the offseason – acquiring the superstar outfielder from the Padres.

While it’s still early in the season, the Yankees’ current dominance (15-7 record, atop the AL East) and Juan Soto’s multifaceted contributions strongly suggest that the trade has been a resounding success so far. This led to Cashman to drop a hint at the Yankees’ efforts to tie him down with the team for the long term.

“It feels like he’s been here a long time because of how easily he’s allowed people in,” Cashman said. “We’re lucky to have him, and certainly we’d love to have him for a long time.”

Cashman has all praise for Juan Soto’s personality

Cashman recently appeared on MLB Network Radio, heaping praise on Juan Soto for his undeniable impact both on and off the field.

The Yankees GM lauded Juan Soto’s smooth transition, highlighting his league-leading .456 on-base percentage and established reputation as a future Hall of Famer. He admitted to having initial uncertainties about Juan Soto’s personality, but those concerns have been dispelled. While some stars might be more reserved, the slugger has displayed genuine warmth and engagement with fans and teammates, creating an authentic connection.

“It’s been a seamless transition here,” he told about the superstar outfielder. “He comes in here, and everyone knows he was a great player, obviously on a Hall of Fame type track. … So we were obviously excited to have him, but you just don’t know about the personality. Some people are very closed off or very guarded, but he seems very open and fully engaged with our fans, with his teammates, so he’s letting everybody in. That’s not fake, it just seems to be who he is.”

At just 25 years old, Juan Soto’s accolades speak for themselves – a three-time All-Star, the 2020 NL batting champion, and a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner. However, Cashman emphasized that Juan Soto’s influence transcends mere statistics. He has significantly impacted the team’s culture, fostering a positive environment.

Cashman expressed his hope for a long-term future with Juan Soto, beyond his current contract expiring at season’s end. His seamless integration and positive influence make the slugger a valuable asset for the Yankees organization, both on and off the field.

Aaron Judge vs. Juan Soto: Who matters more for the Yankees?

Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 on a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Throughout history, the New York Yankees have been defined by iconic duos, from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. In the 2024 season, the addition of superstar Juan Soto alongside reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge heralds a new dynamic duo in the Bronx.

Judge, having become the face of the franchise after securing a record-breaking contract before the 2023 season, stands tall as the team captain. However, with both players renowned for their slugging abilities, the question arises: Who holds greater importance for the Yankees’ success in 2024? Here what experts and scouts reveal to on this question.

While eight of them favored Judge, six voted for Juan Soto. One executive found it challenging to choose between them.

Aaron Judge and Juan Soto undoubtedly form a formidable duo, yet among baseball executives, there’s a contentious debate over who holds greater importance for the Yankees’ 2024 success.

Despite Aaron Judge’s slow start, batting .189/.337/.378 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 20 games, he isn’t hindering the team’s offense. Unlike last year, the Yankees boast top-five rankings in most offensive categories, showcasing their depth at the plate.

In contrast, Juan Soto has burst onto the scene with a blazing .347/.468/.600 batting line, accompanied by five homers and 20 RBIs in 20 games, leading the league with 18 walks. This offensive onslaught has alleviated pressure from other hitters, notably Judge. A National League executive highlighted Soto’s consistent ability to reach base and drive in runs, contributing to a more well-rounded offensive approach.

An NL executive emphasized Judge’s longevity and stability, contrasting it with the uncertainty surrounding Juan Soto’s contract situation. He also highlighted Judge’s undeniable impact on the team’s success, noting the Yankees’ tendency to thrive when he’s performing well and struggle when he’s not. Despite any reservations, this executive acknowledged that multiple teams would eagerly pursue Judge.

Another NL executive expressed a more decisive opinion, arguing that Judge’s consistent performance over the past two years outweighs any potential fluctuations in Juan Soto’s output.

Yankees superstars Aaron Judge and Juan Soto

Entering a contract year adds a potential motivational factor, with the possibility that this could be Juan Soto’s sole season in pinstripes. One NL executive noted that the Yankees’ substantial trade package for the slugger signaled a clear desire to retain him beyond this season. They believe Juan Soto’s strong performance could cultivate a desire to remain with the team, particularly considering his agent, Scott Boras, is renowned for securing lucrative free agency deals.

An American League executive underscored the importance of lineup structure, suggesting that Judge capitalizing on Juan Soto’s ability to draw walks and reach base is pivotal. While recognizing the close call, they ultimately viewed this as a slightly stronger argument in the Dominican’s favor.

In summary, both Judge and Soto are indispensable to the Yankees’ quest for a championship. While Judge’s leadership and established presence are invaluable, Juan Soto’s elite on-base skills and potential long-term commitment to the team position him as a strong contender for the most crucial player in 2024. Ultimately, their combined talent, along with the team’s offensive depth, will play pivotal roles in achieving their ultimate goal.

Judge vs. Soto: Who is better?

Star sluggers Aaron Judge and Juan Soto are chatting during the Yankees 2024 spring training in Tampa, FL.

While Aaron Judge and Juan Soto’s offensive capabilities are unquestionable, various executives have pointed out a significant distinction – Judge’s defensive versatility.

A National League executive highlighted Judge’s multifaceted contributions, emphasizing his proficiency in centerfield alongside his offensive prowess. In contrast, Juan Soto’s impact primarily stems from his batting prowess.

Another NL executive underscored the strategic positioning of Judge in the pivotal “up-the-middle” positions, suggesting it provides him with ample opportunities to influence games consistently throughout the season. Interestingly, this executive also acknowledged Juan Soto’s impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio, indicating a well-rounded offensive strategy.

Despite Judge’s consistent power hitting since his debut in 2017, the Yankees have yet to reach the World Series. This reality led one executive to lean toward Juan Soto as the more crucial player. Their rationale was that Judge’s standard performance might not suffice; the Yankees require an exceptional year from the Doinican to realize their championship aspirations.

An American League executive presented a compelling analogy, likening the Judge-Soto debate to choosing which leg is more critical for running. They stressed the team’s ambition to leverage the talents of both players, aiming for a combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 10-12. However, if forced to select only one, the executive leaned toward Judge due to his longer-term contract.

But another likened the Judge-Soto duo to tacos and beer, both enjoyable individually but even more satisfying together. This executive emphasized the essential roles both players play in the Yankees’ success, akin to how tacos and beer enhance each other’s flavors.

Ultimately, the debate remains ongoing. Both Judge and Juan Soto possess undeniable talent, and their combined prowess has propelled the Yankees to an early-season lead. Judge’s leadership and established presence are invaluable, while Juan Soto’s elite on-base skills and long-term potential offer an exciting glimpse into the future. Only time will reveal which player will have a greater impact on the Yankees’ quest for a championship in 2024.

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