The New York Yankees are eager to finish out a deal with the San Diego Padres to get star outfielder Juan Soto on Wednesday, in the middle of the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville. They already wrapped up a trade with the Boston Red Sox for Alex Verdugo, but they need one additional lefty-hitting outfielder with a proven track record of success to bolster their lineup, and Soto is the prime name available.
Yankees insider Jack Curry reported on Wednesday that the team “intensified efforts to acquire Soto.” Those talks have continued, and “a trade is likely,” he explained.
Curry warned fans to “keep an eye on (Michael) King and (Drew) Thorpe, suggesting that both players could be part of the deal. With San Diego eyeing four or five players from the Yankees, details on the rest of the potential trade have been surfacing.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that the Yankees could trade a catcher or two.
“Yankee package is expected to be dominated by arms. But the Padres also are likely to get a catcher – or even two – if a deal is consummated. Higashioka has been a target, In addition, someone such as prospect Ben Rice could be of interest.”Via Joel Sherman
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The Yankees are prepared to deal Higgy and Rice if it means getting Soto
Higashioka posted a .687 OPS with 10 home runs in 95 games with the Yanks last season and is seen as a strong defensive catcher with good framing skills. He is a perfect backup. Rice, on the other hand, is a hot prospect who had an 182 (!) wRC+ in 222 plate appearances for the Double-A Somerset Patriots in 2023.
Rice is a very solid prospect with the bat to profile at any position, but Soto won’t come for cheap, and the Yankees need to surrender prospects to get him.
The 25-year-old star hit 35 home runs and drove in 109 runs last season, with a .930 OPS and 132 walks. His sole presence would dramatically improve the lineup around him. It would be a worthwhile addition for the Yankees, even if he is under control for just one year.