The Juan Soto news cycle continues to be the most enticing offseason saga, and the World Series hasn’t even ended yet. We all know the Yankees will show interest in the 24-year-old superstar, and the Chicago Cubs also look to enter the fold this winter. Bob Nightengale of USA Today came out this morning with a report that could come as a shock to some, as while it’s still not confirmed that the Padres will trade Soto, Nightengale fans the flame that suggests he will be.
“MLB executives continue to believe that Padres All-Star outfielder Juan Soto, who hit .274 with 35 homers and 109 RBI, will be traded this winter.”– Bob Nightengale
San Diego is looking to shed payroll, and Soto will get north of $30 million in arbitration money, so he could be a way to open up payroll. The Padres are also set to lose some of their best pitchers from last season, they could look to match with a Yankee team that has plenty of it.
The Yankees Need to Do Everything for Juan Soto
The Yankees had a 3.97 ERA this past season, ninth in all of baseball, and that was despite some ugly and devastating injuries throughout the season. Pitching is their strength, possessing one of the deepest farm systems in the game on that side of the ball. This rings true up and down the system, from Will Warren and Clayton Beeter in Triple-A to Henry Lalane and Carlos Lagrange down in the Florida Complex League. The Padres, who don’t possess that same strength in their farm system pitching-wise, are set to lose their three most valuable starters and their star closer in free agency.
Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez all got to feature in prominent Major League roles and possess the upside to be regular contributors, and of course, the two arms you imagine will headline any deal would be Chase Hampton and Drew Thorpe. There’s plenty of media coverage surrounding Thorpe, who was the Yankees’ 2nd Round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft and won MiLB Pitcher of the Year this past season, but it could be Chase Hampton who the Padres value most.
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At just 21 years old, Hampton possesses a deep pitch mix that starts with a strong fastball that sits 93-95 and possesses 18″ of ride, and the strong secondaries in his sweeper and cutter round out what is an arsenal that landed him the #55 spot on Baseball America’s top-100. As for other names who could get involved, Brock Selvidge just turned 21 and conquered Single-A and High-A this past season, potentially starting his season out in Double-A at an extremely young age.
The Yankees could also throw in MLB arms like Nestor Cortes or Michael King, both of whom would help the Padres’ rotation for the next two seasons, and with Andy Martino of SNY reporting that the Padres aren’t looking to tear it all down, this could keep the Padres’ afloat. On the position player side of the ball, Everson Pereira is a natural fit to replace Juan Soto in LF as the toolsy top-100 outfielder with upside and risk, and the Martino report mentioning Anthony Rizzo could open the door for the Padres adding a guy like Ben Rice.
What makes a Juan Soto deal interesting is the fact that the Padres could focus on players who can help them in 2024 or 2025, so while the Yankees may have a stacked FCL team, their impact at the Major League level won’t be felt for another 2-3 years at the earliest. They’ll have to deal from their upper levels, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Somerset Patriots and Scranton RailRiders have a bunch of new faces entering 2024 if a Juan Soto deal was pulled off.
Trading for a player who has over 150 HRs and nearly 30 WAR before they’ve begun their age-25 season would alter the course of this team’s direction dramatically, and the Yankees know that if Soto is dealt and he goes anywhere else, they’ll face scrutiny that would put the Bryce Harper vitriol to shame.