What might the Yankees roster look like in 2024?

Aaron Boone knows all too well that the landscape can—and usually does—change before Opening Day, so the winter ritual of mulling over lineups is little more than a fun exercise.

However, now that Dominican Juan Soto is on his roster, the Yankees manager could not resist.

More than once, Boone pulled out a pen and paper to jot down possible orders for the 2024 season. There were some attractive options, the foreman says with a smile.

“Oh yeah, I’ve done that many times,” Boone said. “I have a few that I can imagine. A lot also depends on some of the other guys. I’m definitely excited about the winter that DJ (LeMahieu) has had and where (Alex) Verdugo fits in. Perhaps for the first time, we will eventually be able to have three, four, five left- or right-handed people on a given day. Being able to alternate between them would be really nice.”

The arrival of Soto, acquired in a trade with the Padres on Dec. 7, gives the Yankees one of the toughest and most patient hitters in the majors. Verdugo, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Austin Wells are also projected to provide power from the left side, something the Yankees have lacked in recent seasons despite short distance down right field at Yankee Stadium.

“Combined with (Soto) being pretty healthy and some guys getting back into shape, there’s a chance this could be a special lineup,” Boone said. “The presence of a lefty… you know how much I sometimes focus on balance, especially when we don’t have it. He definitely gives us that, along with others. I think it could be an amazing combination.”

The biggest question that needs to be addressed heading into spring training.

How can the Yankees strengthen their pitching now that Yoshinobu Yamamoto is no longer available? Even during negotiations with Yamamoto, the club was considering alternative plans, such as meeting with Jordan Montgomery or Dominican Francellis “Frankie” Montas; trade for Corbin Burns from the Brewers; or creating a “super corral” with flamethrower Jordan Hicks.

Shota Imanaga is another attractive option. New York’s pitching staff had a solid 3.97 ERA last season, but it was less impressive (4.20) when you subtract Gerrit Cole’s contributions. Cole is coming off a season in which he won the American League Cy Young Award, but honors for Cuban Nestor Cortez and Carlos Rodon were marred by injuries.

The player is ready to have a revealing season

It may seem strange to see a player in this space who was called up to three All-Star Games and won silver bats, but Soto is ready to improve his game even more. The 25-year-old slugger only hopes his talent shines even brighter in New York, especially since this will be his last season before free agency, after which his value could skyrocket. FanGraphs projects the Dominican to have a .284/.425/.558 offensive line in 2024 with 39 homers, a WRC+ of 171 and a WAR of 6.8. All of these numbers represent an improvement over what he put up in 2023 with San Diego. The Yankees would love that, although it wouldn’t reduce the cost of keeping him.

Prospects in 2024

Will Warren will come to spring training with a real chance to earn a spot on the big team. Ranked as the Yankees’ No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old right-hander is coming off a season in which he went 10-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Somerset. And Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Warren combines a high-velocity fastball with an improving sweeper that has become his primary weapon, gaining speed and life in the organization’s pitching lab. Warren could follow a similar trajectory to Clark Schmidt, who began his career as a pitcher before securing a spot in the rotation.

Forecast for the new year

With Soto’s defense in the lineup, Aaron Judge will once again attempt to set the record for most home runs in a single season in the American League, with the goal of surpassing the 62 home runs he hit in 2022. 51 games on the injured list in 2023, Judge’s 37 home runs ranked him fourth on the Young Circuit. Thus, he joined Mark McGwire as the only players in Major League history to hit at least 37 home runs in a season in which they played 106 games or fewer. (McGuire accomplished this feat in 1995 as part of the “A” group.)

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