Juan Soto Hits a Home Run at Yankees

Juan Soto Hits a Home Run at Yankees' Stadium


Juan Soto Hits a Home Run at Yankees’ Stadium

When New York Yankees’ managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner voiced his displeasure with payrolls exceeding the $300 million plateau, he made it clear this was “not sustainable.”

Subsequently, many assumed (myself included) that this was perhaps a shot over the bow of not being able (or willing) to pay Juan Soto what will almost certainly be a record AAV number. Soto is represented by notorious super-agent Scott Boras.

In addition to the eye-opening payroll comments, Steinbrenner also emphasized the importance of organizational development now and moving forward. His message could have indicated securing Juan Soto long-term was possible, but the team would inevitably have a different look in doing so.

Considering players’ progress like first-round pick Anthony Volpe and surprise star Luis Gil (among others), the Yankees’ farm system seems well-poised to hold up its end of providing crucial roster construction pieces.

On that front, here’s why these three prospects—Ben Rice, Jasson Dominguez, and Caleb Durbin—could help contribute to Juan Soto’s future in the Bronx.

Ben Rice, Catcher/First Baseman

Ben Rice is a 6’1″ 215 lb catcher/first baseman who bats left but throws right. Rice was the 363rd overall player (round 12) selected by the New York Yankees in the 2021 MLB Draft. He’s from Cohasset, MA which is hated rival Red Sox territory.

The somewhat late-blooming 25-year-old was recently promoted to the Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders where he has three home runs and seven RBI in his first 13 at-bats. Between AA and AAA combined, he has a solid slash line of .283/.400/.576 with an OPS of .976.

Defensively, Rice has issues that will almost certainly exclude him from the backstop position at the Major League level. His poor throwing arm alone will not translate. He appears to be serviceable at first base, but his bat will continue to dictate how far this journey ultimately goes.

Should Rice continue to bang on the big league door, the prospect of keeping Anthony Rizzo beyond 2024 starts to diminish. Rizzo is owed $17 million in 2025, but the Yankees will likely buy him out for $6 million unless he agrees to renegotiate. I get Rizzo and Judge are good pals, but business is business.

As has been noted, to keep Soto and the core together, any attempts to reign in spending will require decisions such as this which trims $11 million from the projected 2025 payroll. Ben Rice could be one of those cogs that help make it happen.

Jasson Dominguez, Outfielder

I featured a piece on rising star outfielder Jasson Dominquez back on May 20, 2024. As illustrated, despite the current roadblock in the outfield for Dominguez, the Yankees can move on from Alex Verdugo in 2025.

Verdugo is a stud defender (9 DRS & 3 OAA), but his current wRC+ of 110 and 1.3 fWAR are replaceable by the cost-controlled Dominguez. The 28-year-old Verdugo is on a one-year, $8.7 million deal and will certainly get a raise on the free agent market.

Dominguez has had an OPS above .900 at all 3 levels of 2024 minor league ball after his swift recovery from UCL surgery back in September 2023. Before the injury, he lit Yankee Nation on fire bursting out of the gate in his 2023 debut homering off of Justin Verlander. 

Dominguez was the youngest Yankee since Stan Javier in 1984 to premiere with the big club. His comparisons to guys like Mickey Mantle have his stock soaring.

Caleb Durbin, Second Baseman/Third Baseman

The former 14-round selection by the Atlanta Braves is a 5’6″/185 lb fireplug. A true jack of all trades, Caleb Durbin has played second, third, shortstop, two outfield positions, and was even the designated hitter on a couple of occasions at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The focus for the 2025 New York Yankees will be to replace Gleybor Torres who is being paid $14 million for 2024. The 27-year-old Torres has put up a below-average 90 wRC+ and -1 DRS. His days appear to be numbered.

Durbin’s 2024 totals are pretty stout slashing .299/.413/.458, and has a wOBA of .396. Add 3 home runs, 17 doubles, 36 RBI, K% of only 9.8 with 20 stolen bases and you have a nice prospect to consider.

The $205 Million Yankee Core

In a hypothetical where the Yankees give Juan Soto a record AAV of around $48 million per, a core of Soto, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Rodon, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu would push the running total for 2025 to approximately $205 million.

At that length alone, the Yankees would be spending more on those seven players than 21 teams have spent on their entire 2024 payrolls. Hence, Steinbrenner’s commitment to lowering New York’s current $305 million inventory.

With that in mind, it seems imperative that the young, thrifty talent in the pipeline must not only be given an experimental leash but also emerge as viable talents worthy of being plugged into the Yankee’s plans sooner rather than later.



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