Yankees refusing to part with ace upside pitcher in Juan Soto talks

mlb: toronto blue jays at new york yankees, michael king
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees and San Diego Padres are currently in the middle of negotiating for superstar lefty slugger Juan Soto. It is clear that general manager Brian Cashman wants Soto and believes he would be the perfect fit for a batting order that struggled in 2023.

Soto is coming off a dominant campaign, playing his third consecutive season with a minimum of 150 games. The 25-year-old hit .275 with a .410 OBP and a .519 slugging rate, including a career-high of 35 home runs, 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+. Soto is one of the few players that has a higher walk rate than strikeout rate, walking at 18.6% compared to 18.2% percent.

The Yankees Can Turn Over Their Offense With Juan Soto

Adding a bat of this magnitude to the top half of the order would be a tremendous boost, especially with Aaron Judge returning to full health in 2024. Those two alone could carry an offense, but the Yankees need an insurance policy in case Judge misses any time. However, the main caution is that Soto is a one-year rental and will need to be extended beyond the 2024 season, and there will be competition.

Not only does Soto want to hit the free agent market, but Scott Boras normally prefers to have multiple teams in the mix and to drive the price up via competition. Soto may land a deal in the range of $400 million over 10 years, but acquiring a player in the middle of their prime with Hall of Fame level numbers is rare. The Yankees have the financial resources and have some big contracts coming off the books in the future, providing some salary relief.

The question is, how much is Cashman be willing to give up for a one-year rental? So far, we’ve heard names like Clarke Schmidt, and several prospects bubble to the surface. However, the Yankees are refusing to trade one key rotation arm, Michael King.

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The Yankees May Have Something Special in Michael King

The organization believes that King can become a star-level pitcher, which he showcased during the final month of the regular season.

At 28 years old, King pitched a career-high 104.2 innings, earning a 2.75 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 10.92 strikeouts per nine, 81.1% left on base rate, and 42.8% ground ball rate. Over 35.2 innings in September, King posted a 2.02 ERA, giving up just eight earned runs and striking out 45 batters with an impressive 86.2% left-on-base rate. There is legitimate potential that King will transition to the rotation and immediately become one of the team’s most trusted pitchers.

If Cashman can also land Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Yankees would heave one of the best rotations in baseball, barring injury, so there is a way to turn things around in one off-season.

The Bombers are trying to get the Padres to bite on Schmidt, who also has solid upside but is coming off an inconsistent season at 27 years old. He has excellent stuff and could be a middle-of-the-rotation arm for San Diego. Of course, they would have to pair several other solid prospects and potentially cash in exchange for Soto and outfielder Trent Grisham.

The next few weeks should be hectic, and with the winter meetings coming up in a few days, the Yankees are certainly looking to be aggressive.