Yankees to pursue Juan Soto if he becomes available

With the Yankees monitoring the Shohei Ohtani market, it seems that they’ve aimed their sights on another potentially disgruntled superstar on a struggling West Coast team.

Juan Soto was traded this time last year to the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster that was supposed to propel them into World Series contention, and less than a year removed from an NLCS defeat at the hands of the Phillies, they find themselves buried in a tough NL West.

Sitting well behind the Giants, Dodgers, and D-Backs, it seems that the Padres will be selling this deadline, and if they were to be bold enough to move the 24-year-old superstar, Pat Ragazzo of Sports Illustrated reports some damning evidence that the Yankees would throw their hat in that ring.

“Rival teams believe the Yankees will pursue superstar outfielder Juan Soto if the San Diego Padres make him available at the trade deadline.”

As Aaron Judge sits idly on the sidelines with a toe injury that’s slowed the Yankee offense to a halt, could the Yankees swing big and land one of baseball’s brightest stars?

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Could the Yankees Pull Off a Juan Soto Trade?

MLB: All Star Game-National League at American League, juan soto, yankees
Jul 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; National League left fielder Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres (22) hits a single against the American League during the ninth inning at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball America recently dropped its mid-season top-100 list, and while the Yankees lack a top-50 prospect, they have six total names on that top-100 list. Oswald Peraza, Chase Hampton, Jasson Dominguez, Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, and Spencer Jones all graced the site’s well-respected list, with all of them having strong cases to become great big-league players at some point.

Other interesting names in the system not listed in the top 100 are Drew Thorpe, Roderick Arias, and Keiner Delgado, who have all performed at an extremely high level and could be viewed as larger pieces of a megadeal. When it comes to prospects, the Yankees have the depth to get a deal done, it just has to do with the Padres’ value on some of these names and their willingness to move Soto.

With still an extra year of control, the Padres could run it back next year with their core of Tatis-Machado-Soto-Bogaerts and hope for better results, and the next two weeks will give us more of an understanding as to where San Diego lies. This isn’t a team looking to trade away a player with Juan Soto’s upside and resume, as he’s posted the fourth-best wRC+ in baseball since debuting in 2018 (152) and is currently in the midst of a season with a 148 wRC+ and higher walk rate than strikeout rate.

Soto would kill two birds with one stone, giving the Yankees a reliable OBP machine at the top of the lineup when Judge returns and giving them an elite left-handed bat in the outfield. Any lineup with Judge and Soto in it will score plenty of runs, and Soto could profile extremely well for the Bronx, where he can pull more of his flyballs and yield great results.

Petco Park has killed his HR ceiling, as while he’s pulling more flyballs than he has in any season other than 2019, his wOBA on flyballs is the second-lowest of his career (.586). His ISO as a Padre has dipped below .200, which makes sense considering that his home ballpark is bottom five in Park Factor for HRs hit by left-handed batters.

The defensive issues won’t matter if he’s hitting the way he has in his career, as he’s still got room to grow offensively at just 24 years old, and the Yankees could end up with one of the sport’s best talents and players to pair with the reigning American League MVP. If there’s one thing we can sense early on, it’s that the Yankees are looking to make a splash at this year’s trade deadline.