Yankees’ push to land Juan Soto swings between rewards and risks

Padres star and Yankees target Juan Soto at Petco Park in 2022.

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Rumors are swirling about a blockbuster trade talk between the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres centered around superstar Juan Soto. According to recent reports, the two teams have engaged in preliminary discussions about Soto’s availability this offseason.

While any deal is still highly speculative at this early stage, the news revealed by Andy Martino has generated excitement among fans envisioning Juan Soto in pinstripes. Industry insiders caution these are just initial conversations to gauge interest and no substantive proposals have been exchanged yet. However, with Juan Soto under team control for two more seasons, the Padres have the leverage to ask for a king’s ransom in return.

Weighing a potential Yankees-Juan Soto blockbuster

The Yankees have a loaded farm system and young MLB talent to anchor a competitive offer. Pairing Juan Soto with Aaron Judge could give the Yankees a fearsome middle-of-the-order combo for years to come. Both teams are motivated to improve after recent playoff disappointments. If the talks gain momentum over the winter, this could be the long-awaited blockbuster fans have hoped for between two aggressive franchises. For now, it’s an intriguing possibility to monitor as the hot stove season unfolds.

The San Diego Padres find themselves in a tricky spot heading into the 2024 season. After going all-in last year and falling short of a World Series appearance, payroll obligations have put them in a financial bind. Trading superstar Juan Soto to the Yankees would free up money but also signal a step back from contention, a tough sell for a team with playoff aspirations in a competitive NL West.

Juan Soto won 2019 World Series with the Nationals
USA TODAY

Juan Soto’s availability presents a golden opportunity for the Yankees. After missing the postseason for the first time since 2016, New York is hungry to reassert itself as a World Series threat. Plugging him into an already potent lineup could make the Yankees downright frightening. His patient, contact-driven approach would play perfectly in Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. For a team seeking a long-term left fielder, the young superstar checks every box.

At just 25, Juan Soto is due to earn over $30 million in his final year of arbitration, potentially setting a record. Moving his contract would aid San Diego’s goal of dodging the luxury tax next season. However, with Juan Soto under team control through 2024, the Padres would be hard-pressed to match the prospect haul they surrendered to acquire him from Washington.

With motivation on both sides, a Juan Soto trade isn’t implausible if payroll relief trumps contention for San Diego. His departure would sting but potentially aid a quick reboot. For the Yankees, it accelerates their return to prominence. Though complex, there’s a rationale for a deal that shakes up each organization’s trajectory.

Is Juan Soto worth the cost for the Yankees?

The New York Yankees would be taking on some risk by trading for Juan Soto without an extension in place. With the player set to hit free agency after 2024, there’s a chance he could leave after just one season in pinstripes. However, Juan Soto’s drive to shine on baseball’s biggest stage makes the Yankees an appealing long-term home. Securing a Dominican superstar could also energize New York’s passionate fanbase. Even if it takes a record-shattering contract, the Yankees have the financial might to make Juan Soto a Yankee for life.

Yankees rookies Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza and Cubs' star Juan Soto.

To pry Juan Soto away from the Padres, the Yankees can offer an enticing package without gutting the farm system. Since he is essentially a two-year rental, San Diego may forgo a franchise-altering return. With the Padres striving to stay competitive, they would likely covet MLB-ready talent and upper-level prospects close to the majors.

New York boasts pitching depth that could anchor a deal. While a rising star like Drew Thorpe may be untouchable after his 2023 success, the Yankees have a knack for developing pitching prospects. One intriguing possibility is dangling emerging right-hander Chase Hampton, who sits just one step away at Triple-A. His top-shelf potential and proximity to the big leagues could highly appeal to the win-now Padres.

It’s a calculated gamble, but the chance to add a generational talent like Juan Soto doesn’t come often. The Yankees have the resources to make him a lifelong Yankee if they can first pry him away from San Diego. Their farm system allows them to do so without demolishing the foundation for long-term success.

The Yankees have no shortage of enticing trade chips beyond prospects to pursue Juan Soto. With several key Padres pitchers potentially exiting, New York could angle their package around controllable arms. Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, and Randy Vasquez are there to offer San Diego an enticement. The Yankees also boast one of baseball’s premier bullpens that could supply San Diego with a closer successor if Josh Hader departs.

Juan Soto lines a two-run home run against the Giants on September 26, 2023.
HDN Deportes

While the Padres may press for Yankee prospects like Anthony Volpe to trade Juan Soto, the Yankees are likely to avoid parting ways with him. Spencer Jones, a San Diego native, would presumably appeal to the Padres, but New York has prospect depth to avoid gutting their system. Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira could be more realistic targets.

The biggest twist could be including an established Yankee bat like Anthony Rizzo. The rival official notes Rizzo’s history in San Diego and how he would fill their first base void. But after a down 2022, injury questions linger. As a clubhouse leader close to Aaron Judge, his departure could also backfire.

Ultimately, the Yankees don’t need to completely mortgage the future to acquire Juan Soto. Their pitching pipeline and prospect versatility give them flexibility. If Juan Soto reaches free agency in 2024, some sacrifice will be necessary. But New York can craft an enticing proposal without draining all resources for a potential rental situation.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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4 thoughts on “Yankees’ push to land Juan Soto swings between rewards and risks

  1. How could anyone say “… adding Soto to an already potent lineup…” with a straight face? This potent offense hit a collective .223

    1. I welcome a Soto trade, but leave out Dominguez/Torpe/Hampton/King. Anyone else is plausible. You have t give up something to get something. Giving up Jones and Peraza/Periea will hurt, but if Soto signs an extension, then it’s an equal trade. I just would hate to see the 4 aforementioned players moved!

  2. That make no sense to trade for him just for a year. When we can go out and get Bellinger . Only way we go after Soto is if he willing to sign a long term contract. Because we have a bright future with our farm system. We can go after the Blue Jay’s centerfielder he is a free agent.

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