Yankees weigh parting with these three to accommodate pricey Soto

The Yankees are celebrating after Rizzo pulled a 2-1 walk-off win vs. the Tigers at Yankee Stadium on May 3, 2024.
Joe Najarian
Wednesday May 29, 2024

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The New York Yankees are enjoying a promising start to their season, yet owner Hal Steinbrenner is already eyeing the future financial health of the team. In a recent address, Steinbrenner voiced concerns over the sustainability of the Yankees’ current payroll, suggesting potential reductions ahead.

This announcement has taken many fans by surprise, especially those hopeful about signing star outfielder Juan Soto when he hits free agency after the 2024 season. Although Steinbrenner has previously shown interest in securing Soto with a long-term contract, his latest remarks about cutting payroll cast uncertainty over such a high-profile acquisition.

As the Yankees strategize for the 2025 season and beyond, it seems likely that several current players might not return. While no specific names have been disclosed, Steinbrenner’s comments indicate that difficult choices will be necessary to maintain the franchise’s financial stability. Fans will be keenly watching as the Yankees balance building a competitive team with managing their budget.

Alex Verdugo: Behind the scenes to influence Yankees

New York Yankees’ Alex Verdugo reacts after striking out swinging during the fifth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif.
AP Photo/Ryan Sun

When the New York Yankees made a surprising move by acquiring Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox this offseason, the outfielder sensed his tenure in pinstripes might be brief. Despite his pivotal role in the team’s success, Verdugo’s fate with the Yankees remains ambiguous.

While the spotlight has primarily shone on the Yankees’ headline-grabbing trade for Soto, Verdugo’s addition has also proven beneficial. His tenacious play and presence in the cleanup spot have notably contributed to the team’s impressive 16-4 record in games where he’s held the fourth batting position.

Although Verdugo’s individual statistics—a .260/.323/.427 slash line with seven home runs and 28 RBIs—might not dazzle, his influence on the team’s overall performance is undeniable. However, with the potential re-signing of Soto and the emergence of promising prospects such as Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones, Verdugo’s role in the Yankees’ outfield plans for the future appears uncertain.

As the season unfolds, the Yankees will confront difficult decisions regarding their roster, with Verdugo’s status as a possible one-year addition looming large. While his contributions this season have been substantial, his permanence in the Bronx beyond this year remains in question.

Yankees verdict looks certain for Torres

Yankees' Gleyber Torres reacts after hitting a three-run home run against the Rays at Tropicana Field wall on May 12, 2024.

Amid deliberations over their forthcoming roster and financial landscape, second baseman Gleyber Torres faces an uncertain future with the New York Yankees. Despite his consistent contributions over seven seasons, Torres’ struggles during the 2024 campaign have cast doubts on his enduring value to the team.

Once a subject of talks for contract extensions, Torres has been unable to replicate his remarkable 2019 performance, during which he launched 38 home runs. This season, his offensive output has been underwhelming, with a batting line of .229/.304/.327, accompanied by a mere four home runs and 16 RBIs. Although he has demonstrated signs of improvement lately, with his OPS climbing to its highest mark since April 7, his overall display remains lackluster.

The Yankees’ outfield depth and potential fiscal constraints further complicate Torres’ situation. With Verdugo likely serving as a short-term addition and the organization boasting an array of outfield talent, the team may confront difficult choices regarding its infield composition.

As the Yankees strive to strike a balance between their roster composition and financial obligations, Torres’ standing within the organization grows increasingly uncertain. His performance in the remainder of the 2024 season could prove pivotal in determining his future with the franchise.

The New York Yankees’ blueprint for their infield future could pivot on the progress of prospect Oswald Peraza, notwithstanding his existing injury setback. The organization’s steadfast reluctance to entertain trade offers for Peraza implies a belief in his capacity to potentially succeed second baseman Gleyber Torres, particularly if impending payroll constraints loom large.

Rizzo on crossroads

Anthony Rizzo was seen running during the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, May 10, 2024.
USA Today

Simultaneously, uncertainty surrounds the tenure of first baseman Anthony Rizzo within the Yankees’ ranks. As his 35th birthday approaches and with a $17 million team option for the upcoming season, the Yankees might contemplate transitioning versatile infielder DJ LeMahieu to first base, potentially reallocating Rizzo’s salary to facilitate a substantial contract for outfield standout Juan Soto.

Rizzo has undoubtedly been a dependable asset throughout his Yankees tenure, yet the franchise’s overarching financial strategy and imperative to secure burgeoning talents like Soto could sway decisions regarding the veteran’s future with the team. At the plate, the 34-year-old is batting .245 with 7 HRs and a .680 OPS, down from his prime Cubs years but still dangerous when healthy.

According to Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, the New York Yankees are contemplating the possibility of parting ways with first baseman Anthony Rizzo to clear financial space for a potential contract with Juan Soto. Despite Rizzo’s recent resurgence at the plate, the Yankees’ offseason maneuvers are anticipated to center around securing Soto’s enduring presence on the team.

Following a sluggish start to the season, wherein he recorded a .227/.306/.284 line with just one home run across his initial 23 games, Rizzo has notably picked up momentum over the subsequent 20 games. During this period, he boasts an impressive .290/.349/.566 batting line, accompanied by five homers. Nevertheless, his $17 million team option for the 2025 season, inclusive of a $6 million buyout clause, might prove burdensome for the Yankees, particularly if they prioritize securing Soto’s services.

There is speculation that the Yankees could potentially transition versatile infielder LeMahieu to first base permanently in the upcoming season and explore avenues for enhancing their third base options during the offseason.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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5 thoughts on “Yankees weigh parting with these three to accommodate pricey Soto

  1. The Yankees also have to decide on Clay Holmes and perhaps to a lesser extent Loasiga as FA to be.

    1. Unless Holmes’s AAV is too high, I expect him back. I cannot see Loaisiga getting from anyone a MLB deal with more more than something like a $%M guarantee. He will be paid based on his availability.

  2. Torres was never coming back in 2025. Rizzo’s defensive play the last 2 years, even before the Spike/concussion, has been not good. Throw in his offense being really bad except in pockets doesn’t make anyone want to give him $17M next year. Verdugo was always scheduled to be a one and done but here, especially if they re-signed Soto. Oh, and Cashman may not have a choice but to non tender $5.5M man, Trent Grisham. That’s something like $45M of the books right there.

  3. Love Rizzo. Great teammate & a very smart hitter with 2 strikes on him, which is unheard of these days. But if Hal “needs” that money to sign Soto, the choice to part ways with Rizzo is an easy choice, unfortunately. Besides, moving Judge would seem like a smart way to extend his career & availability, plus a 6’7″ target at 1st is pretty appealing.

    Torres should already gone. Anyone who recommends resigning the WORST fielding 2B in baseball should be fired, immediately! Torres sucks at every element of the game. Why is this piece of crap playing everyday; he’s easily the worst player in the starting lineup.

    I would DEFINITELY RESIGN VERDUGO. What he’s added in terms of defense, consistent bat-to ball contact, and the energy he brings to the team is virtually un-replaceable.

    Verdugo has played a MAJOR ROLE in making the team chemistry on the 2024 Yankees the best it’s been since the days of the Fab 5 (Jeter, Williams, Mo, Posada, and Pettitte). Do NOT screw up that Chemistry, Hal.

    As for Hal’s recent comment about a $300+ Million payroll be unsustainable, That’s Complete BS! As one of the WFAN on-air personalities noted, if Hal reinvested as much of the Yankees’ Massive Income into the team as George did, the Yankees could afford a $500 Million payroll today.

    Now, I’m not asking him to do that; he & his family have a right to make money, too. But Hall can afford a $350 MM payroll, very easily. So, Stop BSing us, Hal.

  4. I agree that Torres should not be signed for 2025. I heard already has 7 errors this year. That is all he has been charged with, there are more that should be on the list. He has trouble finishing a Double play, throwing to first base, but doesn’t get charged with an error, because you can’t assume a Double Play, also he has been thrown out a few times on the bases. it’s time for the Yankees to say Goodbye to Gleyber

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