After much teasing about different rumors for multiple star players at the MLB Winter Meetings, we finally have our first blockbuster move as the New York Yankees have acquired San Diego Padres superstar Juan Soto. New York also gets Trent Grisham in the deal. Per Jon Morosi on Twitter, the Padres are getting Micheal King, but ESPN's Jeff Passan broke the rest of the players. According to Passan, San Diego grabs King, right-handed pitchers Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez, Jhony Brito, and catcher Kyle Higashioka.
It is an explosive deal that pairs the 25-year-old Dominican star with the former American League MVP Aaron Judge. Soto is coming off a season where he hit 35 home runs, drove in 109 RBIs, and led the league in walks at 132 while bringing a slashline of .275/.410/.519. I would expect Soto to put up a career total in home runs with that short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. This immediately brings pressure off of Judge to be the one guy to carry the Yankees offense. New York's outfield has shifted dramatically in the last few days, with it now looking like Soto will be in left field, Alex Verdugo and Grisham splitting time in center, and Judge locking down right field. It finally fills the void in left tha since they traded for Giancarlo Stanton.
One AL scout said the following about the trade:
"Time will tell with the trade, but the Yankees need to win now, so (I) guess they are all in. Must be fun to be a fan of theirs, getting the cream off the top every year in talent."
On the Padres side, they get a MLB-ready pitcher in King, who can come out of the bullpen and has shown some ability to start games. In his last 10 appearances (eight as a starter), King posted a 1.96 ERA, 55 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, and allowed just 12 walks. The gem of that stretch was a seven-inning, one-run performance against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 20, where King struck out 13 strikeout batters.
Thrope is the No. 5 Yankees prospect, according to MLB.com, while Vasquez is No. 13. Brito had an ok start to his major league career in 2023 with a 4.28 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 90.1 innings. According to Baseball Savant, Brito is in the same vein as a pitcher as Micheal Lorenzon, Chris Bassitt, and Andrew Heany. San Diego also gets a solid backup catcher to Gary Sanchez in Higashioka, who has hit 10 home runs three years in a row and ranked in the 90th percentile in framing.
This is a monster move that makes an already competitive AL East that much more dangerous. This is what the Yankees do after an off-year: buy the best talent they can with prospects they will never use. Good luck to all the AL East pitchers who have to see that lineup all summer long.
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Cover photo is courtesy of ESPN.