The trade that sent Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers is often cited as a comparison of what the New York Yankees might need to assemble in a package to the San Diego Padres for Juan Soto.
The Red Sox, in their landmark deal, received Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs, parting with one of MLB’s premier talents. This scenario drew parallels to Soto’s circumstances, given his proximity to free agency and his standing as one of baseball’s offensive juggernauts despite his defensive shortcomings.
The High Stakes of Acquiring Soto
A trade for Soto won’t come cheap, particularly with the Yankees as potential suitors. However, a strategic approach could reduce their expenditure: waiting until the 2024 trade deadline. Chris Kirchner of The Athletic suggests that the Padres might prefer to assess their postseason prospects closer to the deadline before making any moves.
Kirchner quotes a league source: “If the Padres were to move him, doing so at the trade deadline would be more likely than this offseason, as the Padres would have a better idea of their playoff chances and whether they have a chance of extending him.”
This delay could play into the Yankees’ hands. If they’re well-positioned for the playoffs next August, acquiring Soto could come at a significantly lower cost. Instead of surrendering one or two top 100 prospects, the price could drop substantially with Soto on the brink of free agency.
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The Padres’ Playoff Gamble
San Diego may opt to retain Soto for another playoff push, given the depth of talent on their roster. However, with Soto’s anticipated arbitration figure exceeding $30 million, the financial implications could inhibit their ability to strengthen their pitching and add outfield depth. Should the Padres commit to absorbing this hefty salary in 2024, they could wager on a World Series campaign. A failure to achieve this, though, might see them lose Soto to a higher bidder in free agency—potentially the Yankees.
Soto’s Stellar Record and Future Prospects
Fresh off a season with a .275 batting average, .410 OBP, and .519 slugging percentage, including 35 home runs and 109 RBIs, Soto has proven his mettle. His durability is notable, having played at least 150 games over the last three seasons. At just 25, his best years are potentially ahead of him, making him an ideal fit for the Yankees’ long-term plans.
Yankees’ World Series Aspirations Tied to Potential Soto Acquisition
General manager Brian Cashman, known for securing high-profile talent, recognizes that Soto represents more than just a typical acquisition. Bringing in a player of Soto’s caliber could be the catalyst the Yankees need to re-enter serious World Series contention, particularly after a disappointing unraveling of their previous campaign.