Yankees fans might disagree with MLB executive poll in Aaron Judge, Juan Soto debate

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

After watching the first month or so of the 2024 MLB season, it's evident what the difference has been with the New York Yankees. Their pitching has performed admirably, but it hasn't been necessarily stellar or awful. It's right where it should be. The position player depth has been shattered with injuries. So how are the Yankees getting by?

The one and only answer is Juan Soto. The offseason blockbuster trade that saw the Yankees land the MVP candidate has been 2024's saving grace. He's single-handedly prevented the offense from going dormant on numerous occasions so far and has been responsible for at least five of the team's wins.

Without him, it's scary to wonder where the Yankees would be, especially with Aaron Judge slumping arguably the worst he ever has since his rookie campaign.

This has increased chatter about Soto remaining in pinstripes for the long haul because the relationship has seemingly gotten off to the best start possible. And as it pertains to 2024, he might be the team's most important player with how things are shaping up.

Unless ... you ask a group of MLB executives. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand polled a few high up baseball people anonymously to determine who was the more important player for this season, and the group favored Judge.

Yankees fans might disagree with MLB executive poll in Aaron Judge, Juan Soto debate

Really? Even after what you've seen? Even after you saw Judge win the MVP in 2022 and the Yankees still fell short? Even after you saw Judge carry the offense for 106 games last year, only for the team to finish 82-80?

Judge is undoubtedly needed. He's the face of the franchise. He is the New York Yankees. Over the long haul, he's "the guy." But for 2024? After he's hit .180 with a .663 OPS and 31 strikeouts in 24 games, and the team is still 16-8? Soto might be more important right now, and that's OK.

It seems a couple of the executives didn't properly interpret the question, either? Here are two responses that voted in favor of Judge:

“Judge … because he is the Yankees,” one National League executive said. “He’s the guy they know is going to be there forever, and although they hope the same for Soto, they don’t know yet. I think if Judge plays well, that team rolls. When he doesn’t, they don’t."

“The answer has to be Judge, right?” another NL exec said. “The difference in production from him they got the last two years is a lot bigger than whatever variable outcomes Soto might have.”

Again, the Yankees have the third-best record in the league with Judge floundering spectacularly. If he was doing this sans Soto, the team would be .500 at best. Whether Judge is the "forever" guy or not, we're just solely talking about 2024. And whatever the "variables" were over the last two years, the Yankees only have one playoff appearance and one series win to show for it.

Nonetheless, it was a close vote. The panel saw eight vote for Judge, six vote for Soto, and one remained undecided. We don't think anybody needs to vehemently take sides in this friendly debate, but perhaps it's just best to be honest with ourselves after what we've seen since Opening Day.