Mets’ voice calls Juan Soto a ‘liability,’ boosts Yankees’ contract hopes

Yankees RF Juan Soto greets the New York Mets fans at Citi Field on June 26, 2024.
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Sara Molnick
Friday June 28, 2024

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During the New York Mets’ 12-2 win over the New York Yankees in the Subway Series, their broadcaster Keith Hernandez finds issue with Yankees outfielder Juan Soto‘s defensive performance. He described the superstar slugger as a defensive liability, questioning the strategic decision to position him in right field at Citi Field, which features a deeper outfield than Yankee Stadium.

“He’s been a liability out there,” the announcer said from the SNY booth. “You wonder why they want to play him in the deepest corner outfield position in this ballpark. Yankee Stadium, yes. But that’s a fly ball. That’s gotta be caught.”

Hernandez’s comments followed Juan Soto’s misplay on a fly ball hit by Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez in the fifth inning. This lapse allowed Brandon Nimmo to score from second base and Pete Alonso to advance to third, extending the Mets’ lead to 4-0.

Hernandez stressed that Juan Soto should have caught the fly ball, suggesting that the outfielder’s defensive skills might be better suited to Yankee Stadium’s shorter right field than Citi Field. He highlighted the considerable difference in outfield dimensions between the two parks, noting that Citi Field’s right field is significantly deeper.

Although Juan Soto was not officially charged with an error, Hernandez implied that a greater effort could have been made to secure the catch. This play was part of a five-run inning for the Mets, who went on to complete a two-game sweep of the Yankees.

But Juan Soto an asset for Yankees

Yankees' Juan Soto hits a single against the Royals at Kansas City on June 10, 2024.

Despite recent criticism of his defensive performance, Juan Soto’s season has been notably strong. According to Statcast data, he boasts 1 out above average, placing him 57th among 128 qualified players defensively.

On the offensive side, Juan Soto continues to shine. He leads the league with a .434 on-base percentage and 67 walks. Additionally, he’s delivering with a .303 batting average, a .567 slugging percentage, and 19 home runs, showcasing an All-Star-caliber season.

As Juan Soto nears free agency this offseason, speculation about his future is mounting. Jon Heyman of the New York Post has suggested that the New York Mets might be a key contender to sign him, positioning them as a strong alternative to the Yankees.

A potential move to the Mets could shift the narrative around Juan Soto’s defensive abilities, especially in light of the comments made by Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez during the recent Subway Series.

Is Mets’ interest in Juan Soto sweepstakes waning?

Yankees' Juan Soto during the game against the Chicago White Sox

The New York Yankees anticipate fierce competition in their bid to re-sign Juan Soto, according to a report by Jon Heyman of The New York Post. Heyman identified the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox as potential contenders for Soto’s services when he becomes a free agent.

However, Heyman also highlighted that some rival general managers are beginning to doubt whether Juan Soto would actually leave the Yankees, considering his successful tenure with the team.

The possibility of losing Juan Soto, especially to a rival like the Red Sox, is seen as a significant threat to the Yankees. The team is reportedly gearing up for a heated bidding war, recognizing his proven MVP-caliber performance in New York.

As of Saturday, Juan Soto’s stats with the Yankees have been outstanding, featuring a .304 batting average, 18 home runs, 56 RBI, 60 walks, and a .995 OPS. The Yankees’ determination to keep him underscores his immense impact on the team and his status as one of baseball’s top young stars.

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