Judge’s partner? Boone plots 2024 Yankees’ lineup shuffle amid slugger’s future uncertainty
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According to Bryan Hoch, an MLB insider and well-known journalist in the field of baseball, as the offseason unfolds and the New York Yankees prepare for the upcoming season, manager Aaron Boone finds it irresistible to speculate about potential batting orders for 2024. Despite the inherent uncertainty surrounding the period leading up to Opening Day, Boone envisions multiple lineups, all energized by the exciting addition of Juan Soto to the roster.
Juan Soto, acquired from the Padres on December 7, brings a game-changing presence to the team, offering both potency and patience at the plate. Boone acknowledges the impact of Soto on the lineup and expresses his enthusiasm for the possibilities ahead. The manager has explored various permutations, emphasizing the potential for a balanced mix of left-handed and right-handed hitters, a luxury the team has not enjoyed in recent seasons.
Boone highlights the offseason performances of DJ LeMahieu and Alex Verdugo as additional factors shaping the lineup dynamics. The winter developments, coupled with the power potential of first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Austin Wells, provide the Yankees with a left-handed offensive boost, addressing a historical gap in their lineup. The prospect of having three, four, or even five lefties or righties on any given day excites Boone about the versatility and depth of the lineup.
Can Boone revamp the pinstripes’ order in Soto’s shadow?
The importance of health and players returning to form is critical for the Yankees to fully realize the potential of their lineup. With Soto’s left-handed presence complemented by other power hitters, Boone envisions a special and well-balanced lineup that could significantly impact the 2024 season.
However, questions loom about the pitching staff beyond the offensive lineup. With Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the board, the Yankees need to strategize to upgrade their pitching. They are contemplating alternatives such as a reunion with Jordan Montgomery or Frankie Montas, trading for Corbin Burnes, or constructing a super bullpen with Jordan Hicks. The team aims to bolster its pitching prowess, especially considering the 3.97 ERA last season, excluding Gerrit Cole’s contributions, and the injury-marred campaigns of Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodón.
Juan Soto is poised for a breakout season. Despite his already impressive career, projections indicate that Soto will elevate his game further in 2024. FanGraphs forecasts an improved slash line, more home runs, and a higher WAR, making Soto a key player to watch as he enters a contract year with potentially sky-high demands.
Looking ahead to prospects, the emergence of Will Warren as a potential roster candidate adds intrigue. Ranked as the Yankees’ No. 8 prospect, Warren’s impressive performance in Double-A and Triple-A last season positions him as a contender for a spot on the major league roster. With a combination of high-velocity pitches and a developing sweeper, Warren’s trajectory could mirror that of Clarke Schmidt, who transitioned from a swingman to a rotation mainstay.
As the new year approaches, one bold prediction stands out: Aaron Judge, fortified by the protection of Juan Soto in the lineup, is anticipated to make a formidable run at the single-season American League home run record. Despite missing games due to injuries in the previous season, Judge’s impressive home run tally ranked him fourth in the AL, setting the stage for a potentially record-breaking performance in the upcoming season.
The Yankees’ 2024 lineup holds the promise of being a potent and well-balanced offensive force. With the addition of Juan Soto and the emergence of key contributors, the anticipation builds for what could be a memorable and impactful season as the team addresses pitching concerns and keeps a watchful eye on breakout prospects.
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