Yankees’ top trade target is a certainty to be traded according to MLB insider

MLB: San Diego Padres at Chicago White Sox, juan soto, yankees
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are one of the teams heavily interested in Juan Soto, and the fit for them and any other team is extremely obvious; he’s one of the best players in the world. At just 25 years old, the left-handed slugger is a hot topic of the offseason, especially as the Winter Meetings unfold. Speculation about whether the Padres will entertain a Soto deal has been flying around with some reports suggesting he’ll be dealt and others that San Diego wants to try to win, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic fans the flame of a Juan Soto blockbuster with his latest report.

In his most recent piece for The Athletic, Rosenthal made it abundantly clear that the Padres’ financial issues will be too much to retain Soto for Opening Day.

“The question is not whether Soto will be traded. The question is which team will acquire him”

It’s clear that the Yankees need left-handed hitting, and Juan Soto should be their top prize for the winter, especially if they want to win the fanbase back.

Is it Juan Soto or Bust for the Yankees?

MLB: San Diego Padres at Chicago White Sox
Sep 29, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) bats against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

One thing has been made abundantly clear all winter by the Yankees, and it’s that they need outfielders. Brian Cashman even came out publicly and said the team is looking for two outfielders, preferably left-handed, amid his fiery interview at the GM Meetings. If the Yankees want to get the fanbase energized and give them a reason to go to the ballpark, there isn’t a player better suited to do that than the Dominican-born superstar.

It also doesn’t hurt that he happens to walk more than he strikes out, has remarkable game power, and is one of the best hitters on the planet. No hitter in baseball has a higher OBP than Soto (.421) since his debut in 2018 and his 16.4 fWAR is the most by any left fielder since the start of 2021. There truly isn’t much better of a fit for the Bronx Bombers, who are hoping to not only improve upon their bottom-of-the-barrel .304 OBP but also get younger.

Juan Soto turned 25 this past October, and he’s somebody who can help anchor this Yankees’ core for an extremely long time. Many have been quick to mention that Soto doesn’t solve all of their problems, but there isn’t a player in the world currently who could solve every team’s problem. The Yankees still want to add pitching, they’d still need a centerfielder, and questions about their young players and veterans would still loom, but Soto gives them a huge lift.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
Aug 25, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) gives a thumbs up against the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Time is the most valuable asset in the world, and the Yankees know that their time with a prime Gerrit Cole and a prime Aaron Judge is only growing shorter. When Aaron Judge took home the 2022 AL MVP, they watched as the Astros celebrated in the Bronx before winning their second World Series title, and when Gerrit Cole took home the 2023 AL Cy Young, they didn’t even qualify for the postseason. Urgency is something this organization has shown in the past, but not to the point where they’ve landed “the guy” of an offseason or trade market.

One could reasonably argue that Shohei Ohtani is the top fish in both markets, and I’d agree, but Juan Soto is about as close as you can get. With a 155 wRC+ and 5.5 fWAR this past season, he’d be a huge upgrade over the 0.1 fWAR the Yankees got this past season from their left-field group, and Soto may continue to improve. He’s only 25 years old, and projections believe he’ll climb to a 165 wRC+ in 2024, and the sky is still the limit for such a talented hitter.

He possesses all the contact and plate discipline metrics that the Yankees desperately need, has the left-handed power they’ve lacked, and has the superstar moniker that would put people in the stands. Ken Rosenthal joins Buster Olney and Jeff Passan, who both vehemently believe that the San Diego Padres will be forced to move Juan Soto. The Yankees certainly have the pitching to help San Diego replace the over 600 innings they could lose in free agency, and both parties could have an opportunity to exchange names next week.

The Winter Meetings will certainly be one to keep an eye on, as the Padres should expect plenty of teams to touch base with them on a player who could transform any lineup in the sport.