Nationals rookie Juan Soto‘s meteoric rise has hardly gone unnoticed this year, and on Friday, he added to an already-impressive resume with a solo shot off of Kevin Gausman‘s 95.1-MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Not only did the 383-footer narrow the Nationals’ deficit against the Braves to just one run, but it also placed the outfielder in rare company: At 19 years old, he’s only the third teenager to record at least 20 home runs in major league history.
The two former rookies who also share this record? One of them still belongs to the Nationals, as Bryce Harper was the last to do it after finishing his age-19 season with 22 home runs in 2012. The first player to record the feat, however, was Tony Conigliaro of the 1964 Red Sox. The young outfielder rounded out his first year in the big leagues with an as-yet unchallenged record of 24 total homers before his 20th birthday.
Soto has been white-hot since his call-up in May, but managed to ramp up the intensity even more over his last few games this month. Entering Friday’s contest, he’s batted .364/.451/.636 with three homers and a 1.087 OPS in 51 plate appearances since the start of September, and is proving a stiff competitor to Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuña as award season draws near.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.