Yankees could move All-Star caliber infielder if Juan Soto is acquired

mlb: game one-new york yankees at boston red sox, gleyber torres
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If the San Diego Padres make superstar lefty slugger Juan Soto available on the trade market, the New York Yankees are expected to be aggressive players. The Bombers need to upgrade their hitting order significantly, and landing a 25-year-old player in the middle of a Hall of Fame-caliber career would not only boost their offense but also take them to another level.

This past season, Soto played all 162 games, hitting .275 with a .410 OBP, .519 slugging rate, including 35 homers, 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+. One category the Yankees struggled in is health, and Soto offers incredible durability, playing 150 games in three consecutive seasons.

The Yankees Can Help the Padres Financially

The problem for the Padres is financial, having taken out a $50 million loan in September to cover payroll expenses. Soto is expected to have an estimated $30 million salary in his final year of arbitration, and while Padres’ general manager AJ Preller would prefer to keep Soto, it may not be realistic.

In fact, they may have to pair him with another contract to get him off the books, which may reduce any amount they get in return for his services. Preller gave up San Diego’s farm system in return for Soto several years ago, so the Yankees may be able to get him at a bargain price, but it may require them to take on Jake Cronenworth’s contract.

Cronenworth is an interesting player and would create a bit of a log jam in the infield. At 29 years old, he signed a seven-year, $80-million-dollar deal that expires in 2030. This past season, Cronenworth played 127 games, hitting .229 with a .312 OBP, including 10 homers and 48 RBIs.

The Yankees may view him as a project coming off a down season, but his 2021 campaign showcases a player who can provide valuable production. Over 152 games, he hit .266 with a .340 OBP, .460 slugging rate, including 21 homers and 71 RBIs with a 14% strikeout rate.

However, he also has defensive value, with the capacity to play most infield positions. Most of his experience comes at second base. He’s played 2,595.2 innings at second, enjoying a .989 fielding percentage with eight defensive runs saved and eight outs above average. The Yanks can theoretically put him at third base to compete with Oswald Peraza and DJ LeMahieu, but this may open up the idea of trading Gleyber Torres.

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MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees
Aug 6, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) hits an RBI double sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Should the Yankees Move Gleyber Torres for Pitching in this Scenario?

Torres, the Yankees’ former All-Star infielder, is coming off a solid 2023 season. Ideally, they would keep him around, but an influx of talent in the infield and the addition of Soto may make him an expendable piece in a contract year.

Torres is headed into the final year of arbitration and has an estimated salary of $15 million for the 2024 season. The Yankees are still unsure if they will extend them on a long-term deal, but they could flip him for pitching right now, bolstering the starting rotation and opening up second base.

However, Torres is coming up on his best offensive seasons, hitting .273 with a .347 OBP, including 25 homers, 68 RBIs, and a 123 wRC+. He recorded his lowest strikeout rate at 14.6% and collected 3.2 WAR, his highest number since 2019 when he hit 38 home runs.

Ideally, the Yankees would land Soto and retain Torres, but the Padres may force a prospective team to take on another contract. One may have to ask themselves if you’d be willing to part ways with Torres if it meant landing Soto, and the easy answer should be yes.

Gleyber is a solid player who has experienced defensive fluctuations throughout his career, but the impact of Soto cannot be understated, given he’s one of the best offensive players in baseball. Just imagine having two Aaron Judge’s, one of them being left-handed in Yankee Stadium.