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Yankees Potential Trade Target: Juan Soto

Smoke is beginning to swirl around one of the game’s best hitters.

San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

If you’ve been on this site before you know how good Juan Soto is. If you’ve never been to this site before, welcome! You have picked a rather stop-and-start time to begin following our coverage. The Padres’ openness to trading arguably the best left-handed hitter in baseball has been in the news since the Rangers lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy, and the sheer number of different reports from credible sources mean, to me, that there’s something real to the whole thing.

Should he be dealt, Soto would be one of the all-time single season rentals. In July of 2022, Ken Rosenthal reported the slugger had turned down a 14-year, $440 million extension offer from the Nationals, the final straw in Washington’s decision to trade the 2019 World Series hero. Shohei Ohtani will likely eclipse that number in free agency this year, and while Soto doesn’t pitch, he won’t turn 26 until next October. He’ll hit free agency four full years younger than Aaron Judge did, and the Giants were willing to give Judge $400 million.

Juan Soto will not sign an extension.

Meanwhile, his Padres find themselves in a bit of a sticky situation. The late Peter Seidler pretty transparently tried to spend his way to a World Series before his death, bringing in Soto and signing Xander Bogaerts, extending Fernando Tatís Jr. and Manny Machado, seeming to care more about his own mortality than CBT penalties. Seidler’s no longer with us, perhaps just as critically the Diamond Sports Group collapse meant that San Diego’s regional sports network fell apart.

I don’t make too too much of the $50 million loan the Padres were extended in August — short-run liquidity challenges can be pretty common, and it wouldn’t surprise me if similar credit facilities were available for other major league teams. Still, it should at least signal that while the Padres may not be insolvent, they may be temporarily cash poor; that combined with the loss of Seidler’s prime directive makes shedding payroll a priority.

This creates a pretty perfect storm for a Soto deal. With a year of control remaining and a team that needs to free up budget space, a trade would be commensurate with a player of his talent level but shouldn’t require the gutting of a farm system. A trade for Soto will likely induce a wince at the mobile notification, not hand wringing over the future of the franchise.

And the payoff is a left handed power/on base combo the Yankees haven’t had since Robinson Canó, or perhaps even Jason Giambi. The thought of Soto batting behind Aaron Judge is intoxicating, maybe only surpassed by the thought of the career .421 OBP Soto hitting AHEAD of the game’s greatest power hitter. You can go dizzy thinking of the potential, but the sheer possibilities should a leadoff hitter manage a slightly-above-average on base percentage ...

As always, the problem with something like this is all the other teams in the league know Soto is likely available. The Mets are reportedly interested and the Giants are in need of an offensive upgrade. The good news is, depending on the Padres’ internal evaluation of their window, they may see themselves as potential playoff contenders and thus prefer an American League destination for their star. On the other hand, should a real bidding war begin, the Yankees may not have the top-end talent in the farm system to match a package from one of the deeper orgs.

If nothing else, you have to try. It’s Juan Soto. If we’re not trying to acquire a 25-year-old World Series hero projected to be the second-best hitter in all of baseball, who happens to be left-handed when our ballpark has a famously short porch, what are we even doing?