New York Yankees 2024 Season Preview

Will new superstar Juan Soto prove to be the difference in a make-or-break season for the New York Yankees?

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Alex Verdugo #24, Juan Soto #22 and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees talk during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 21, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

During an offseason in which numerous stars moved to new teams, it is no surprise the New York Yankees got involved. With the acquisition of superstar outfielder Juan Soto, the Yankees may have formed their modern-day “Murderers’ Row.”

In 2023, the Yankees fell short of the postseason and the fans made sure Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman knew they were not content. After several years of mediocre results (by Yankee standards), it was time for some new additions. As a result, the new-look Yankees seem rejuvenated and ready to make some noise in 2024.

Many were questioning manager Aaron Boone’s future with the team following another year finishing far away from a World Series title. Boone is returning for his seventh season at the helm, but he will look to lead some new faces in the Bronx this year.

Fans in New York will be relieved to know that the outfield will look very different from last season. 2022 AL MVP and Yankee captain, Aaron Judge, will have new teammates surrounding him this season. Judge will finally get the support he’s been looking for with Soto hitting in front of him in the lineup, while Alex Verdugo fills out the outfield. In addition, Trent Grisham should be an upgrade for the bench.

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On the pitching side, the Yankees will be missing their ace, Gerrit Cole, for the first two months or so of the season with elbow discomfort. The rest of the staff will need to step up if they want to succeed in 2024 following a 2023 season full of injuries and poor performances.

The upcoming season presents a good opportunity for the Yankees to win their first ring since 2009. With Juan Soto’s future uncertain, there is no better time than now for the Bronx Bombers.

Projected Starting Lineup

1. DJ LeMahieu – 3B*1. DJ LeMahieu – 3B*
2. Juan Soto – RF2. Juan Soto – LF
3. Aaron Judge – CF3. Aaron Judge – RF
4. Anthony Rizzo – 1B4. Anthony Rizzo – 1B
5. Gleyber Torres – 2B5. Giancarlo Stanton – DH
6. Giancarlo Stanton – DH6. Gleyber Torres – 2B
7. Alex Verdugo – LF7. Trent Grisham – CF
8. Anthony Volpe – SS8. Anthony Volpe – SS
9. Austin Wells – C9. Jose Trevino – C
*Injured, likely to miss Opening Day

It is pretty clear the Yankees have added some much-needed depth and variety to their lineup. The additions of lefty-hitting outfielders Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, along with Soto, will be a vital change for a Yankee team that has been right-side dominant in the recent past.

Obviously, it is no surprise that this lineup will revolve around Judge and Soto, two of the premier outfielders in the league.

Throughout his career, Aaron Judge has often been missing that one batter that can protect him in the lineup. With no one to necessarily fear around Judge, there’s a chance we have yet to see his full potential. The Yankees hope to have found that missing piece in Soto. If healthy, Judge will look to put up numbers similar to his 2022 AL MVP campaign in which he hit 62 home runs along with 131 RBIs.

Juan Soto is the Yankees’ shiny new toy that everyone cannot wait to see take the field in the Bronx. The 25-year-old phenom is already entering his seventh season in the big leagues, bringing a mix of youth and experience to the team. An on-base machine, Soto can elevate this Yankee offense to a completely new level. Expect Soto to put up some insane numbers as he plays to get a massive contract next offseason.

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Someone to keep an eye on this season is first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The veteran is coming off a strange 2023 campaign in which he started red hot, then went ice cold following a concussion. He continued playing after the injury but performed like a completely different player post-collision, eventually leading to him being shut down for the rest of the season.

Reports claim that Rizzo is feeling great, much like he was before the injury. Perhaps that means we can hope to see him return to form.

Shortstop Anthony Volpe is primed to be a likely breakout candidate for the Yankees in 2024. He did not perform too well in his rookie season but did show some promising flashes, becoming the first rookie to record a 20/20 season in Yankees history.

Volpe has played well thus far in spring training. If we see that continue into the regular season, he could eventually take over the leadoff spot in the lineup.

Projected Bench

Austin Wells, Kevin Smith, Oswaldo Cabrera, Trent Grisham

The Yankees have been notorious for their lack of left-handed batters the past few seasons. Entering 2024, they will likely have three lefties and one switch hitter available off the bench, giving them many more options with a righty-dominant lineup.

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There are some unknowns with Austin Wells, given his small sample of games in the majors. Yet hopefully he can grow into a solid-hitting catcher. Wells has a great chance to crack the Opening Day roster and split time with Jose Trevino. There is no rush for Wells to produce at the major league level, but he is someone Yankee fans should be excited to watch progress.

Oswaldo Cabrera will be the most versatile option on the bench this season, given his ability to switch hit and play both the infield and outfield. Cabrera has not exactly been electric with the bat throughout his career but can be a serviceable replacement for a day off or an injury.

Injuries to DJ LeMahieu and Oswald Peraza may have solidified Cabrera’s spot on the roster for now, but that can easily change later in the season.

Coming over to the Yankees in the Soto deal, Trent Grisham can provide some solid defense for an outfield that struggled mightily when Judge was hurt last year. Grisham is an above-average fielder who will give Boone plenty of options to move the outfield around. He also has plenty of pull-side power, so maybe the short porch in Yankee Stadium is just what Grisham needs to increase his offensive production again.

As the season moves along, do not be surprised if some prospects find their way into these supporting bench roles.

Projected Starting Rotation

2024 Starting Rotation
1. Gerrit Cole – RHP*
2. Nestor Cortes – LHP
3. Carlos Rodón – LHP
4. Marcus Stroman – RHP
5. Clarke Schmidt – RHP
6. Luis Gil – RHP
*Injured, will miss Opening Day

The ace of the staff, Gerrit Cole, winner of the 2023 AL Cy Young Award, will start the season on the IL. For Yankee fans, the past few weeks have been the stuff of nightmares waiting for updates on Cole’s status. Initially, it seemed as though Cole was headed for Tommy John surgery and would miss the 2024 season.

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Thankfully, it appears Cole has no tears in his UCL but does have nerve inflammation in his elbow. He will likely miss the first two months or so of the season, which is still a massive blow to the rotation. There is a chance the injury lingers for the entire season, but just getting Cole back at some point will help a staff that was underwhelming last year.

BOSTON, MA – JULY 23: Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning at Fenway Park on July 23, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The rotation will rely heavily on two guys who desperately need healthy, bounce-back seasons. Nestor Cortes and Carlos Rodón both came into 2023 expecting to be on one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball. Instead, both were plagued by injuries and had some of the worst years of their careers, statistically speaking.

Now, with Cortes and Rodón healthy but Cole sidelined for a few months, the Yankees desperately need their No. 2 and 3 starters to return to their pre-2023 forms. If Cortes and Rodon can get anywhere near their sub-three ERA’s from 2022, Yankee fans will be more than pleased.

Everyone knew that the Yankees would have to add some help to the starting rotation this winter. Many thought it would be Yoshinobu Yamamoto or Blake Snell but it ended up being Marcus Stroman. Hate him or love him, he is the kind of arm the Yankees desperately needed. Stroman not only brings a sense of fire to the mound but also brings consistency. In each of the last four seasons, he has started at least 25 games and posted a sub-four ERA.

The last thing the Yankees want is to possibly spoil their only year with Soto and Judge hitting back-to-back in the lineup. A lot of that lies in the hands of a pitching staff surrounded by question marks.

Projected Bullpen

2024 Relief Options
1. Clay Holmes – RHP
2. Jonathan Loaisiga – RHP
3. Ian Hamilton – RHP
4. Caleb Ferguson – LHP
5. Victor Gonzalez – LHP
6. Nick Burdi – RHP
7. Luke Weaver – RHP
8. Dennis Santana – RHP

The Yankees bullpen has been one of the best in baseball over the last decade, finishing top-five in ERA each of the last seven seasons.

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Indeed, the bullpen was more consistent than the rotation last season. Yet, after losing Michael King, Jhony Brito, Keynan Middleton, and Wandy Peralta, the rest of the guys will have to step up.

Clay Holmes has been one of the best relievers in baseball for the past three years, mainly thanks to his sinker-slider combination that is almost impossible to barrel up. He has ranked in the 100th percentile in ground ball percentage each of the last two seasons.

Holmes’ setup man will be righty Ian Hamilton, creating one of the best set-up-closer duos in the league. Hamilton was dominant last season, posting a 2.64 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched. If the team can get to Hamilton with a lead, I feel pretty confident that he and Holmes can shut opponents down the rest of the way.

A healthy Jonathon Loaisiga could make all the difference for this bullpen. Before battling injuries for the last two seasons, Loaisiga was one of the best relievers in the game in 2021. The hard-throwing sinkerballer recorded a 2.17 ERA that season and can hopefully return to form this year.

Prospect Watch

The 2024 season could be a crucial year for some Yankee prospects looking to break into the majors. Prospects on both sides of the ball will be knocking on Yankee Stadium’s doors throughout the season.

Top prospect Jasson Domínguez was fantastic in a brief call-up last year. Unfortunately, he had to undergo Tommy John surgery after posting a .980 OPS over his first eight MLB games. Domínguez is expected to be out the first half of the season, but when he returns, he’ll make an already impressive outfield even better.

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The Yankees have some major league-ready arms in righties Chase Hampton, Will Warren, and Clayton Beeter. Warren and Beeter have both shown their abilities this spring, and each made a case to begin the season as the fifth starter in the rotation (a job that ultimately went to Luis Gil). Hampton, the team’s No. 3 prospect, hasn’t played above the Double-A level yet, but there is a good shot we’ll see him in the Bronx at some point this season.

If the major league roster doesn’t perform well to start the season, expect a wave of young prospects to make their way up and put some pressure on the incumbents.

Yankees Outlook for 2024

Last year, there were more questions surrounding the Yankees’ batting order than the pitching staff, but entering 2024, that seems to have flipped. With the additions of Soto, Verdugo, and Grisham, the Yankees now have one of the most intimidating outfields surrounding Judge. We’ll have to wait and see if the bats can outweigh the questions about the pitching staff.

The key to the Yankees’ success will be health. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen the Yankees have both “next man up” and “roll over and die” mentalities when dealing with injuries.

Another injury-riddled year could be disastrous for the Yankees and their fans. On the other hand, a healthy season for most of the roster could certainly result in a deep postseason run or even a World Series title – something the Yankees have been chasing for 14 years.