All it takes is half a brain and a set of eyes to determine that current San Diego Padres star Juan Soto is one of the best offensive players in baseball. The New York Yankees need offense, and Soto can certainly provide a substantial amount of it, solving a ton of problems in the process.
The Yankees ranked as one of the worst teams in baseball last year regarding batting average and on-base percentage with runners in scoring position. Soto, a 25-year-old phenom who is entering the final year of arbitration with an estimated salary of over $30 million, posted elite metrics with runners on base. Over 144 at-bats, Soto hit .299 with a .439 OBP, .576 slugging rate, and 1.015 OPS, including nine home runs and 71 RBIs in that category.
Star slugger Aaron Judge already made it known they need to improve with runners in scoring position and simply boost several offensive categories, all of which Soto does seamlessly. He played all 162 games last year and has played a minimum of 150 for three consecutive seasons. Youth and durability are what the Yankees are looking for, and Soto has both.
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The Yankees Want and Need Juan Soto
On Monday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone spoke to the YES Network, raving about Soto and indicating that in the next few weeks, anything can unfold.
“He’s with another team, [but] it speaks for itself what a great player he is, what a great start of his career that he’s had,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on the YES Network. “But he’s a great Padre right now, so we’ll see what happens as the week unfolds. But all I can say is, he’s a pretty special player.”
Of course, Boone isn’t going to give away any negotiation leverage, but the entire industry knows the Yankees are being aggressive in their pursuit. General manager AJ Preller has asked for an insane return, with some reporting his desire for more than six players.
The Yankees aren’t going to trade away their top pitching talents and then some, especially since the Padres have minimal leverage. Preller knows he needs to offload $30 million in salary, and the Yankees are one of the few teams that are capable of taking on that money and giving away MLB pitching.
It seems as if the Yankees have no desire to move Michael King, who projects to be an essential piece in the starting rotation next year with ace-level upside. He pitched over 100 innings for the first time in his career last season, so there is some concern about his durability, but his stuff is elite.
A deal centered around Clarke Schmidt would make much more sense for the Yankees since he still has several years of control and profiles as a middle-to-back and rotation starter. However, the Padres haven’t seemed to bite on that idea just yet, but the longer the Yankees wait, the less leverage the Padres have since they do need a little bit of money to spend on reinforcing the team, especially if they lose Soto.
Free agency hasn’t heated up just yet, with the entire market being held up by Shohei Ohtani. Once he decides on his future, things should begin to unfold rather quickly, including a deal involving Soto.