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Aaron Boone talks Juan Soto, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and more as Yankees eye upgrades, good health

Gary Phillips, New York Daily News on

Published in Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Yankees had yet to make any splashes by the time Aaron Boone spoke at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday afternoon, but that didn’t stop the manager from discussing some of his team’s top targets.

The first name to come up was naturally Juan Soto’s. The Yankees and Padres have discussed trade scenarios for the superstar left fielder this offseason, but San Diego’s reported asking prices have been considered steep thus far, with names like Michael King, Clarke Schmidt and Drew Thorpe being mentioned as possible Yankees trade chips.

“He’s as good of an offensive player as there is. He’s a machine offensively,” Boone said of Soto. “Has accomplished a ton already at a young age. Durable, has been a central figure on a world championship team. Comes with a lot of fanfare and has been one of the rock-solid performers in our sport on the offensive side of the ball year in and year out.”

Indeed, Soto would give the Yankees the left-handed bat they always seem to be missing. But the Scott Boras client is projected to make $33 million in his final year before free agency and declined a 15-year, $440 million extension from the Nationals before they traded him to San Diego in 2022, so the Yankees don’t want to overpay for someone who amounts to a rental.

The Padres, meanwhile, are looking to shed payroll and rebuild their rotation. Trading Soto would help on both fronts, and the Yankees have arms to spare.

“It comes down to matching up,” Boone said while generally speaking about the Yankees’ needs. “Sometimes you’re able to attack a specific need or hole. Sometimes that doesn’t come to fruition and you gotta try and make hay on another part that may be a strength you have.”

 

Boone also talked a bit about Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, stating that he “probably would” look good in pinstripes.

Boone noted that he’s met the right-hander before, “and I do plan on meeting him again.”

It’s unclear how much Yamamoto will make, but the expectation is that the posted pitcher will clear $200 million. The Yankees have plenty of competition for his services.

“It’s hard to find a 25-year-old pitcher that’s as decorated as he is and has had the level of success he’s had at this point in his career over there and on the world stage in the WBC,” Boone said. “Our reports are that this guy’s really good. The industry sees it the same way, and it feels like there’s gonna be a lot of suitors for him. But I feel quite confident that he’s going to come over here and be a really special top of the rotation-type pitcher.”

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