The New York Yankees could be deploying a slightly different alignment in the outfield during the 2024 season.
New York added a pair of outfielders to the mix this offseason with the acquisitions of left fielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox and right fielder Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres. The deals added balance to a Yankees lineup that had been mostly right-handed, but also complicated matters defensively, given that the club has just one true center fielder, Trent Grisham, on the roster.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he expects to play Aaron Judge, a natural right fielder, in center field a lot this season, adding that he could even play in left field, during an appearance on the Foul Territory podcast on Friday.
Boone explained that by playing Judge more in center, the Yankees will, in turn, give him more days off from the field with the designated hitter spot. But the Yankees manager added that the presence of Grisham, a two-time Gold Glover, will allow the team to shift Judge over to left and play the former in center, when they want both in the field.
Soto, who owns a career .946 OPS, is one of the best hitters in the game, but also one of the worst defensive outfielders. Plus, Soto won’t be slotted into the designated hitter spot often, given that the Yankees like to play the injury-prone Giancarlo Stanton there.
That leaves Soto to play in right field and Judge to man center and left field, two positions he’s played the least in the majors. It’s certainly not ideal, but the potential defensive shortcomings in the outfield won’t even be mentioned if the club can hit like they’re capable.