Bryce Harper? Yesterday’s news.
Let’s discuss the inevitability of Juan Soto joining the Yankees.
The Post kids because The Post loves. Though the Yankees did receive a friendly reminder Wednesday night that they haven’t yet cornered the market on young talent.
Or did you not see Soto formally introduce himself on baseball’s biggest regular-season stage?
While Gleyber Torres went deep again, the Yankees rookie found himself upstaged by one of the few major leaguers younger than him. The 19-year-old Soto slammed two homers and drove home four runs to power his team past Torres’ Yankees, 5-4, at Yankee Stadium.
You have to work pretty hard to out-youth the Yankees nowadays, so tip your cap to the Nationals, a prospective World Series opponent whose young stud helped his club overcome a startling five baserunning errors.
“He has been really good since he came up,” Aaron Boone said of Soto, whom the Nats promoted from Double-A Harrisburg on May 20. “From where he started this year [Hagerstown in low Single-A], to be here, it’s a good reason, and we got a peek at it tonight. A couple of big swings that beat us ultimately. Obviously a good looking young player.’’
Or, as Nats manager Dave Martinez said, tongue in cheek, as he kicked off his postgame news conference, “I’ll start by saying that Juan Soto is very good.”
At 19 years and 231 days, Soto became the third-youngest player to take the Yankees deep twice in one game. The two younger guys, as per YES Network researcher James Smyth? Andruw Jones, who at 19 years and 180 days homered off Andy Pettitte and Brian Boehringer in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, and Ken Griffey Jr., who at 19 years and 190 days slammed a pair of round-trippers off Jimmy Jones on May 30, 1989.
“It feels very good,” said the Dominican Republic native Soto, who has quickly taught himself English. “Two of the good outfielders. … I like that.”
Though the Yankees (43-20) fell a game behind the Red Sox (47-22) in the American League East standings, they remain two games up on their rivals in the loss column, and now they welcome the unimposing Rays into town for four days. This game featured some red flags in the forms of a shaky Sonny Gray start (five innings, four earned runs) and underwhelming offense (1-for-7 with runners in scoring position). They’ll live, though. It’s OK every now and then to admire what you see on the other side of the field.
Soto came up with his team trailing, 3-1, in the top of the fourth inning with two outs and teammates on first and third. He went with an outside fastball from Gray, sending it to left field that looked off the bat like a flyout to Brett Gardner. That’s how Gardner reacted. Instead, the ball carried over the wall, giving the Nats a 4-3 edge.
“I was surprised, yeah,” Soto admitted. “I hit it pretty good, but too high. I was running the bases, saying, ‘Keep going, keep going, keep going!’ ”
“I thought it was a slicing foul ball that reached the seats foul,” Boone said. “It kind of held and I saw Gardy overrun it a bit. Obviously a strong kid.’’
Torres countered in the bottom of the fifth with his 12th homer of the season off Nats starter Erick Fedde, an estimated 435-foot shot that cleared the visitors’ bullpen. That 4-4 tie lasted until the top of the seventh, when the lefty-swinging Soto pummeled a Chasen Shreve fastball behind the Yankees’ bullpen — an estimated 436 feet, fittingly 1 foot longer than Torres’ — to give the Nats the decisive edge.
“He is young and has a good swing,’’ Shreve said, accurately.
Nats reliever Ryan Madson described Soto as “old-school,” explaining he was “quiet, humble, respectful.” Sounds an awful lot like Torres or Miguel Andujar, or Aaron Judge for that matter.
A talented youngster who plays the game right? Baseball will take as many of those as it can get. And the Yankees just can’t have them all. Not at the outset, anyway.