Late in the night on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 the San Diego Padres traded Juan Soto to the New York Yankees, marking the 2nd – trade in less than 17 months for the now 25 – year – old outfielder in Soto who has cemented himself as one of this generation’s best hitters.
The Trade Details:
The New York Yankees also picked up outfielder, Trent Grisham, from the San Diego Padres as part of the blockbuster seven – player MLB trade agreement. In exchange, the San Diego Padres acquired the right – handed pitchers including Michael King, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez as well as the starting – pitching prospect in Drew Thorpe and the catcher named Kyle Higashioka.
The New York Yankees went into the current MLB offseason in search of two everyday left – handed – hitting outfielders, and the New York Yankees managed to acquire both of those type of players over the past week. On Tuesday night, they completed an extremely rare trade with their much – hated divisional rivals in the Boston Red Sox in order for the N. Y. Yankees to scoop up Alex Verdugo in exchange for 3 – pitchers.
Just over 24 – hours later on, the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres successfully negotiated a trade that had been highly anticipated over the course of the last few weeks. The 2 – competing sides in opposing leagues had agreed upon terms on the ball players in this trade as of late Tuesday night, and it seemed as if they would complete the deal by Wednesday afternoon, even though the total logistics of clearing the medical assessments with respective team trainers were in the air.
Specifically, in regards to Thorpe, who ended the 2023 MLB season on the Major League Baseball injured list with a subluxation in his non – throwing shoulder which delayed the trade process until somewhere near midnight on the East Coast of the U. S.
The San Diego Padres general manager, A. J. Preller, said shortly after the deal was finalized, that he initially received interest in Juan Soto from as many as 10 – MLB franchises over the past few weeks.
“It’s very difficult to make a deal where you’re trading a player the caliber of Juan Soto,” Preller stated. “But if we did that, we wanted to make sure we shored up a bunch of needs. We were able to get some depth with quality.”
The New York Yankees New Stellar Outfield:
This blockbuster big – league trade puts Soto in an outfield mix with Verdugo, Grisham, Aaron Judge, as well as Giancarlo Stanton. The latter of whom is definitely much more of a designated hitter at this point in his long big league baseball career.
The now 27 – year – old Verdugo and the 25 – year – old Soto, are both heading into their final season prior to their next free agency period, but the New York Yankees would undoubtedly love to sign Soto to a huge long – term contract before he enters the MLB free agency market in 2025. Neither Judge nor Verdugo are mainly playing center field for New York, but one of them will have to ultimately man the position on a full – time basis under this new Yankee team roster reconstruction.
Grisham who is also another left – handed batter, comes in as a 4th – New York Yankees floating outfielder who can be subbed in most likely for defensive purposes late in games when the New York Yankees hold a lead over their competition as well as possibly drawing some spot starts when the New York Yankees face right – handed starting pitching.
Grisham’s sudden departure might just so happen to clear a path in the baseball landscape of the San Diego Padres in particular for their superstar infielder, Fernando Tatis Jr., who has always been a lifelong shortstop and won a Platinum Glove in his first full – MLB season as a right fielder last season in 2023 ultimately playing center field for the infield – rich S. D. Padres who have also have shown interest in the Korean center fielder, Jung Hoo Lee.
The Recent History of the San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are also looking to make at least 1 – addition at least at the starting pitcher position according to Preller. By clearing somewhere in the ballpark of $35 million with the Soto trade moving major cash off of the books, the San Diego Padres theoretically could possibly add Lee as well as another solid pitcher in the hopes of progressively competing in an ever so increasingly difficult National League West division of Major League Baseball.
When Preller was asked about the difficulty of not seeing the future of his franchise through with Soto, he responded by saying, “For us, we saw it as the potential to have three pennant races with Juan in play, and maybe more. But I think even from the time we made the deal — both internally, in baseball operations, myself with Peter Seidler at the time — we understood that you can also pivot. That’s just part of having elite players is that there’s always interest for elite players and premium – type talent. We understood that.”
The S. D. Padres originally acquired Juan by shipping out an impressive haul of promising big – league prospects that were headlined by the shortstop C. J. Abrams, starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore and 3 – other highly regarded young talented ball players who went to the Washington Nationals back in August of 2022.
The San Diego Padres’ ultimate plan was to have Soto for 3 – MLB postseason races prior to him venturing into the unpredictable MLB free agency market that would place him with fellow pro ball superstars such as Tatis, Manny Machado, and of course eventually Xander Bogaerts. Instead, they got only one in the long run.
The San Diego Padres rode the coat tails of the acquisitions of Soto and the superstar relief pitcher / closer in Josh Hader all the way to the National League Championship Series back in 2022, but the S. D. Padres did not make the MLB playoffs during a thoroughly upsetting and underachieving 2023 MLB campaign.
The following MLB offseason found the San Diego Padres with a strong desire to cut ties from a huge payroll that had eventually exceeded $250 million in order to fill out a starting pitching rotation left empty after several free agent departures from their best arms.
Juan Soto just Plays Great Baseball so far in his Young MLB Career:
Trading Soto to the N. Y. Yankees as Juan being a highly coveted player in the league right before he is heading into his last season prior to entering the MLB free agency pool just so happened to prove to be the San Diego Padres best and most efficient path, but it was an extremely bitter sweet and painful loss as well.
Since Soto debuted as a young maybe 19 – year – old Hispanic ball player back in 2018, Juan, along with his combination of patience as well as power at the dish can beat you with the long ball just as much as he can wear you down with his relentless high batting averages consisting of hits all over the diamond, has slashed an overall line of .284 / .421 / .524 with 160 – home runs and 483 – RBIs over the course of his 779 – big – league – ball – games, making 3 – MLB All – Star teams and capturing 4 – Silver Slugger Awards has quite the young resume of a pro entering his prime.
Throughout the duration of that 6 – year stretch, Soto has drawn 640 – walks and struck out just 577 – times which is a rare ratio at a time when pitchers routinely throw into the triple digits with devastating breaking ball and most even good hitters swing for the fences increasing the overall MLB strikeout rate.
Soto won his only batting title during the pandemic – shortened season back in 2020 where the players played in front of empty stadiums, and Juan led the major – leagues in walks in each of the next 3 – years, accumulating 412 – base – on – balls while striking out 94 – fewer times, but Soto also manages to rock 91 – home runs that year. His adjusted OPS of 157 is the 5th – highest all – time through a player’s age – 24 big – league season, trailing only the amazing Ty Cobb,Mike Trout, Mickey Mantle, and Jimmie Foxx.
The San Diego Padres never formally offered Soto a decent contract extension, mostly because they got the sense he preferred to venture into the open market of Major League Baseball enabling him to make more money and play where he wanted to at that time which is a very common occurrence for clients of the high – profile sports agent of Scott Boras.
The San Diego Padres’ overall payroll is now expected to be in the ball park of $200 million next year (2024) which is a sizeable decline from the previous 2023 MLB season but still a large number throughout the industry when all is said and done especially in regards to their overall market size.
“I think we’re gonna run very competitive payrolls over the next five years, and I think we’re gonna have a very competitive payroll this year,” Preller goes on to say. “But it’s just what’s the best way to use that dollars, that player, and ultimately we decided to go add five players that I think are gonna potentially play on our roster this year versus one. One very elite player. And also Trent Grisham; he’s a really good center fielder as well. We’ll see how it goes, but I think adding those players right now, and then being in a spot to do some more things, round out a club, that’s ultimately the route we went with.”
The Washington Nationals’ trade of J. Soto, whom they originally signed out of the Dominican Republic, came just after he declined a reported 15 – year contract extension worth up to approximately $440 million, prompting the Washington Nationals to go into an immediate rebuilding situation.
Soto finished that year with a career – low .853 OPS, but Soto’s numbers managed to pick back up during his 1st – full season with the San Diego Padres last year in 2023, during which Juan slashed .275 / .410 / .519 with 35 – home runs as well as 109 – RBIs while playing in all of the 162 – regular – season – MLB – games.
The San Diego Padres began the 2023 – 2024 MLB offseason with only Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish left from their 2023 starting pitching rotation, as they departed to join the free agency situations of Blake Snell, Michael Wacha,Nick Martinez, and Seth Lugo who left them with as many as 3 – big – holes to fill if you know what I mean. The Soto trade helps alleviate some of that need which is ultimately good for the San Diego Padres.
King who is now a 28 – year – old, posted an ERA of 1.88 over 8 – starts following his transition to the New York Yankees’ rotation late last season, and he will probably fill one of the open spots moving forward.
Brito and Vasquez, both are 25 – year – old and debuted last season are also viable options. And so is Thorpe now, who dominated in High – A as well as Double – A in his age – 22 season last year in 2023, going 14 – 2 with an ERA of 2.52while striking out 182 – hitters and issuing only 38 – walks over 139 ⅓ – innings. Brito posted a 4.28 ERA throughout 25 – ball – games (13 – starts) in 2023; Vasquez had a 2.87 ERA during his 11 – games (5 – starts).
Higashioka, who is just 1 – year away from MLB’s free agency period, gives the San Diego Padres just another option behind the plate alongside their 25 – year – old catcher in Luis Campusano.
Although the real prize, of course, is Juan Soto, whose transition from San Diego Padres pitcher – friendly field of Petco Park to the hitter – friendly park of New York City’s Yankee Stadium with such a short right – field porch which might promote yet another level to Juan’s already illustrious offensive prowess especially as a hard – swinging lefty.
Soto is guaranteed only 1 – year in the Bronx with the New York Yankees, but the N. Y. Yankees would love to extend his current diminishing contract, and they certainly have the damn money to so as we all know. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over the course of the upcoming year or two.
Soto’s Baseball Career Achievements, Honors, & Awards:
- 3 – Time MLB All – Star Selection (2021, 2022, 2023)
- World Series Champion (2019)
- 2 – Time All – MLB First Team Selection (2020, 2021)
- All – MLB Second Team Selection (2019)
- 4 – Time Silver Slugger Award Winner (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
- Babe Ruth Award Winner (2019)
- National League Batting Champion (2020)