As the Yankees continue to sit on their hands for the offseason to begin, watching the World Series from home for the 14th consecutive season, they’ve remained in touch on multiple fronts. Andy Martino of SNY dropped the report that the Yankees had a preliminary conversation with the Padres on Juan Soto, and he recently went on The Michael Kay Show to double-down on his initial report, emphasizing that there was just one conversation but clarifying his report a bit more:
“The Yankees scouts were all over the Padres, the Padres’ system, anything related to the Padres in July just in-case Soto became available…one conversation is one conversation, so that’s where it’s at right now, but a ball is rolling I’ll say that”– Andy Martino on The Michael Kay Show
We know that the Yankees had interest in Juan Soto back in July, and while the Padres opted to make marginal buys and stand pat, with their financial crunch, this pursuit of the 25-year-old superstar could yield more traction.
Why the Yankees and Padres Match Up Well in Juan Soto Deal
While the Yankees and Padres are two teams with limited trade histories, the Yankees have something the Padres deeply need: pitching. That sounds odd to say for a team that was tied for the Major League lead in ERA (3.73), but it’s their free-agent class that presents issues. Presumptive NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell will be part of an incredible and robust pitching market, and while that is a large blow to the Padres, they still have Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish, who are more than capable of having healthy 2024 seasons and returning to ace form.
The problem is that their second and third most valuable pitchers, according to fWAR, have player options they’ll likely decline, with Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha both posting strong seasons on the mound as well. Losing three starting pitchers while lacking the MLB-ready pitching prospects to replenish them is a massive roadblock for the Padres, but it doesn’t stop there. Closer and Reliever of the Year candidate Josh Hader had a minuscule 1.28 ERA, and he’s also set to hit free agency, creating a massive hole in the Padres’ pitching staff that they aren’t equipped to fill internally.
Dylan Lesko is their highest-ranking pitching prospect and has yet to pitch in Double-A, and while teenage phenom Robby Snelling could aid their pitching staff down the road, he’s yet to truly conquer Double-A yet, as the 1.56 ERA came with a 13.7% walk rate in 4 starts. Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez present MLB-ready options to fill out the backend of the San Diego rotation, with higher-upside arms right behind them.
It’s highly likely the Yankees would have to part ways with one of Drew Thorpe or Chase Hampton, who are their two top-100 prospects on Baseball America and could even look to throw in some of their tier-2 talent like Will Warren and Brock Selvidge. Andy Martino floated the idea of including first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the deal to help San Diego compete and even went as far as to mention Giancarlo Stanton, but considering the Padres’ financial struggles, they’ll likely look to swap bad contracts at the very least.
If the Yankees aren’t interested in adding more prospects and taking on one of their albatross deals, could the Yankees potentially entice the Padres with standout first baseman Ben Rice? It would be a tough loss on the surface, but considering how good Juan Soto is, there really isn’t much to say no for in a deal. Martino also clarified that the Yankees are one of a handful of teams willing to make the financial commitment for Soto and compared it to the Mookie Betts deal that sent the future Hall of Fame outfielder to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an underwhelming haul.
However this saga unfolds, the fact that the Yankees have only had one conversation serves as the reminder that this is early, but as stated by Andy Martino, a ball is rolling.