Yankees 2023 Mock Trades: Landing superstar outfielder Juan Soto

MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Yankees
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees and Padres have seen talks stall after San Diego demanded that the Yankees pay up seven players, including Michael King and Drew Thorpe. While the Padres were also willing to attach centerfielder Trent Grisham, who reportedly could find himself on a new team on Opening Day, this price was too much for the Yankees to pay. It’s not unreasonable to have rejected such a deal, especially when you consider the financial jam San Diego has put themselves in.

It’s still unclear what other teams are willing to offer for one year of Juan Soto, but considering the report from Andy Martino that the Yankees and Padres could get closer to a deal with a package surrounding starter Clarke Schmidt and top prospect Drew Thorpe, we’ll try to come up with a more fair deal for both parties.

A Potential Blockbuster Between the Yankees and Padres

MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Yankees
May 26, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting a two-run home run against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego is looking for starting pitching, and the Yankees have plenty of it, especially at the Minor League level, and one name comes to mind immediately. Drew Thorpe was named MiLB Pitcher of the Year, as he struck out a league-best 182 batters and posted a 2.52 ERA in 139.2 innings pitched. The 23-year-old right-hander has an excellent changeup that possesses a unique movement profile that generates roughly 16″ of Induced Vertical Break, and its outlier tendency allowed it to generate whiffs at an extremely high level.

The only other changeup that profiles like his belongs to John Means, who has a 110 Stuff+ on his offspeed pitch. That may not seem overwhelmingly impressive, but the average Stuff+ on a changeup sits below 90, which would indicate that this is truly an elite offspeed pitch. Thorpe led all full-season MiLB leagues in Swinging Strike Rate (18.6%), and he’ll be a name of intrigue for San Diego, who could use an arm that’s near-MLB ready. Projections like the top-100 prospect, as they already peg him for a 4.16 ERA despite just five starts with the Somerset Patriots.

I believe he’ll be the headlining package in a Juan Soto deal, and I believe the Padres’ interest in Clarke Schmidt is legit as well. I think there is some validity to the argument that Schmidt is an underwhelming Major League starter for a potential Juan Soto deal, but his projectability is better than given credit for. First and foremost, Schmidt entered 2023 with under 150 innings of MLB experience, and he has under 200 innings of MiLB experience as well. There’s still some upside here, and his brand-new cutter got better as the season carried on.

mlb: new york yankees at kansas city royals, clarke schmidt
Sep 30, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt (36) pitches during the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As for a second top-100 prospect, I think outfielder Spencer Jones would be of great interest to the Padres, although I know it would hurt the Yankees to hand him over. His stock as a prospect is still rising, and his stellar glove and blazing speed create a higher floor than he’s given credit for, but once again this is still Juan Soto. I think that adding him to the deal gives the Padres a “household name” that probably smooths over the immediate backlash any organization will get for mishandling finances enough to have to deal with a superstar.

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I also think San Diego makes a lot of sense for Jones, who was born just 25 miles north of San Diego and could be the perceived outfield replacement for Soto down the road. This also means that the Yankees, in my eyes, shouldn’t have to offer a fourth prospect of serious note, so to wrap up this deal, I have the Yankees sending over RHP Yoendrys Gomez, who should help shore up the Padres’ bullpen. I don’t think he can be a starter due to injuries, but he is only 23 years old and has the stuff to get both lefties and righties out.

This past season, he worked primarily as an opener, averaging 3.1 innings a start but still holding batters to a .199 average and 3.58 ERA in his 65.1 innings of work. He looked sharp in his first Major League outing, and I think this deal would not only allow the Yankees to retain Michael King but also whetted the Padres’ appetite for getting immediate pitching help and some top-line prospect talent.

  • Drew Thorpe
  • Spencer Jones
  • Clarke Schmidt
  • Yoendrys Gomez

It’s hard to find a Yankee fan who wouldn’t do this if given the chance, and given how well the Yankees have done in the draft, it won’t be hard to find pitching talent that could keep the system afloat. Keeping Chase Hampton, who is regarded similarly to Thorpe, would certainly help them alongside arms like Will Warren, Brock Selvidge, Richard Fitts, and Henry Lalane. If the Yankees made this offer, AJ Preller would think heavily about it, but only time will tell if the two parties can get a deal done.