Yankees reach agreement on Juan Soto trade with Padres


Action was severely lacking at the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville this week, but business finally picked up on Wednesday night with the news that Juan Soto is headed to the Yankees as part of a blockbuster trade with the Padres.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the deal is finally done, with an official announcement expected shortly. Per multiple reports, Soto is headed to the Bronx in exchange for right-handers Michael King, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vásquez, top pitching prospect Drew Thorpe, and catcher Kyle Higashioka. Trent Grisham will also go to New York as part of the deal.

The Yankees were reportedly resistant on including King in previous conversations with the Padres, but talks apparently progressed once the club changed their stance. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reported earlier tonight that there was a delay as San Diego was reviewing medicals, but apparently everything has been ironed out. It’s a steep price to pay on the part of the Yankees, but Soto is a special — if not generational — hitter with the potential to transform an offense.

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It’s no secret that the Yankees needed help for their lineup after finishing 24th in MLB with a .701 OPS last season. Meanwhile, only the Athletics were worse than New York’s .227 batting average. Soto, 25, should help on that end after slashing .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs and 109 RBI in 162 games last season. He also led the majors in walks for the third straight season. A lefty slugger in Yankee Stadium is a veritable slam dunk, but Soto’s power plays to all fields.

Soto is going into his final year of team control and is projected to make around $33 million via arbitration. The Padres were willing to make the swap with those factors in mind, but this is a move the Yankees absolutely had to make even with his long-term future in question.

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The Yankees also acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Red Sox on Tuesday, so this likely puts Aaron Judge in center field on most days. It might not be pretty defensively, but it’s an understatement to say that the lineup is already in much better shape. Soto and Aaron Judge hitting back-to-back in the Yankees’ lineup is a scary proposition, indeed.

This move gives the Padres the rotation boost they were looking for with Blake Snell, Seth Lugo, and Michael Wacha now free agents. King, who impressed as a starter down the stretch last year, should move into the rotation right away. He will join Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish who are coming back from injury. Thorpe, a second-round pick from 2022, isn’t far off from the majors as well after posting a dominant 2.52 ERA and 182/38 K/BB ratio over 139 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A last season. He has a chance to be a really good one. Brito and Vásquez each held their own as rookies this past season and figure to get starts with the Padres in 2024. Higashioka, who turns 34 in April, is an experienced backup with solid framing ability.

Grisham is somewhat of a salary dump for the Padres, as MLB Trade Rumors projects him to make around $4.9 million via arbitration in 2024. The 27-year-old has hit under .200 in each of the last two seasons, but his center field defense should come in handy in the late innings for New York.

Up next for the Yankees is upgrading their own rotation. The club continues to be connected to Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who could command a 10-year deal in the $300 million range. The Evil Empire might be back, folks.

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