SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was the calm after the storm. A day after the New York Yankees’ world shook due to general manager Brian Cashman’s bombastic, expletive-laden meeting with reporters, which eclipsed a nothingburger news conference from owner Hal Steinbrenner earlier in the day, things were mostly silent for the pinstripes Wednesday.
Here’s what we learned about the Yankees on Day 3 of the GM meetings at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia:
The San Diego Padres didn’t come any closer to hinting whether they plan to trade superstar left fielder Juan Soto. Wednesday, general manager A.J. Preller mostly dodged questions about the future of his 25-year-old lefty slugger, who has just a year remaining until free agency. With the Padres expected to look to shed payroll for the 2024 season, unloading Soto could make the most sense. MLB Trade Rumors has projected Soto could earn $33 million via salary arbitration next season.
Preller told reporters Soto has expressed interest in remaining with the Padres long-term, though the GM didn’t speak about those efforts.
“Obviously, with Juan, that means a lot,” Preller said. “He’s a true middle-of-the-order three-hole bat, one of the most dynamic offensive forces in the game. But we always weigh out the here and now versus the long-term plan where that sets us. So I think we’ll keep having those conversations. He’s very important to us. (We’ll) kind of get a sense of what’s important to Juan and then make decisions accordingly as we get through the offseason.”
Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, said the Padres haven’t expressed to him that they plan to trade the native of the Dominican Republic.
“They laid out their plan for next year,” Boras told reporters, “which definitely is a lineup that includes Juan Soto. They’re looking for more left-handed bats rather than less.”
The Yankees haven’t engaged in serious talks with the Padres about Soto, according to a team source, though they’re likely to pursue him aggressively if they get the impression San Diego wants to move him.
Eying the outfield market
Another team source indicated there was little movement from the Yankees on either the trade or free-agent fronts so far this offseason. Tuesday, Cashman said finding two outfielders — preferably ones who hit lefty — was atop the Yankees’ wish list for the winter.
The Yankees have discussed many possibilities, including reaching out to Boras about free-agent center fielder Cody Bellinger, a team source said. It remains unclear how highly the Yankees would value Bellinger compared with the rest of the market. Though the 28-year-old’s lefty swing would seem tailor-made for the short porch in Yankee Stadium, and though he has a reputation as a good defensive center fielder, some of his underlying numbers aren’t exactly what the Yankees tend to target. For example, in 2023, Bellinger was just in the 22nd percentile in average exit velocity at 87.9 mph; the 10th percentile in hard-hit rate at 31.4 percent; and the 27th percentile in barrel rate at 6.1 percent.
The Yankees have also discussed free-agent center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, a team source said. Last season, the 33-year-old Kiermaier hit .265 with eight home runs, 36 RBIs and a .741 OPS in 129 games with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Don’t expect a Gleyber Torres extension this offseason
It’s early in the offseason, and you never know, but the Yankees — as expected — have not engaged Gleyber Torres in any contract extension negotiations this offseason, a source close to the second baseman said Wednesday morning. The Yankees typically don’t go for contract extensions, preferring rather to let deals expire. A notable exception was Aaron Judge in 2022, and when the team extended Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks in 2019.
Torres, 26, was the Yankees’ second-most-reliable hitter behind Judge last season. The Venezuela native hit .273 with 25 homers, 68 RBIs and an .800 OPS in 158 games. MLB Trade Rumors projected Torres could make $15.3 million via salary arbitration in 2024.
Donald Trump shouts out Yankees pitcher
Away from the GM meetings, all the way in the South Florida city of Hialeah, former President Donald Trump shouted out an active Yankees pitcher during a rally.
“A great pitcher for the New York Yankees, they call him the Hialeah Kid,” Trump said. “Nestor Cortes! Where is Nestor? He’s a great pitcher. He’s got that fastball.”
Cortes, 28, grew up in Hialeah.
(Photo of Juan Soto: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)