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Hot Off the Stove: Bronx Blockbuster Bring Juan Soto to Yankees

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


"Juan Soto 9.22.22" by Ryan Casey Aguinaldo is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/?ref=openverse.


Dec. 7, 2023

Morgan Killian-Moseley


The San Diego Padres wanted to slash payroll. The New York Yankees, who have no qualms with exceeding the luxury tax threshold by a massive margin, wanted to bolster their outfield.


Done and done.


MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported late last night that the Yankees have acquired All-Star left fielder Juan Soto from San Diego, as well as former Gold Glove center fielder Trent Grisham. Going to the Friars are right-handed relievers Michael King and Jhony Brito, catcher Kyle Higashioka, and righty prospects Randy Vasquez and Drew Thorpe.


Soto will be projected to see his already prolific power numbers climb even higher with Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch, while also providing protection for Aaron Judge. Soto can also be a table setter for Judge, as he led the Majors with 132 walks drawn last season to go along with his .275 batting average, .929 OPS percentage, 35 home runs and 109 runs batted in. It's possible Soto could hit second and Judge third in Aaron Boone’s lineup, with first baseman Anthony Rizzo hitting cleanup. This would provide plenty of problems for opposing managers, especially in late/close game situations.


Defensively, Boone has options. With the acquisition of Alex Verdugo from the eternal rival Boston Red Sox last week, the Yankees have plenty of versatility. Judge has primarily played right for the Yankees, but does have plenty of experience in center. Soto has mostly played left field for the Padres and the Washington Nationals, but did play mainly right field in 2022. Verdugo was normally in left field for Boston last year, but has experience in all three outfield positions for the Sox and the L.A. Dodgers in his career.


The Yankees are projected to have their starting outfield be Verdugo in left, Judge in center, and Soto in right. Grisham, who has shown he can play all three outfield spots very well with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Padres, will likely be the fourth outfielder with a role as a late-game pinch runner/defensive replacement. This would be very helpful for the Yanks considering Judge’s injury last June that kept him on the IL for 56 games, and the fact that Giancarlo Stanton is likely a full-time designated hitter at this stage of his career. Grisham will likely bat ninth on days he gets the start.


If the Yankees carry five outfielders, Estevan Florial, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Everson Periera will be fighting for that spot in Spring Training, barring future moves; though Jasson Dominguez, who provided a good bit of pop in his short stint with the big club last season, will likely get a look mid-season if he progresses well rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.


Of course, Soto has only one year left on his contract and could sign elsewhere next off-season. Soto famously turned down a 12-year, $440 million offer from the Nats, which triggered them trading him to San Diego. If Soto does hit the market, he’ll likely be asking for essentially a lifetime contract in excess of $500-600 million. But if anyone can and would offer that kind of deal to Soto, the Yankees would be the ones.


For the Padres, King has been used as an opener in the past and could be converted to a starter, which San Diego will need considering NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell could leave the team in free agency. (Reports say the Atlanta Braves are a potential favorite to sign Snell) But King will likely compete with Robert Suarez for the closer’s role if Josh Hader signs elsewhere. Brito, Thorpe, and Vasquez will likely start 2024 with the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas, at best.



As for Higashioka, he had been a reliable backup for the Yankees for the last three seasons, praised for his defensive ability; and spent some time as starter last year when Jose Trevino went down with an injury. But Trevino's return plus the emergence of Austin Wells and the potential of Ben Rortvedt made Higgy expendable. For now, Higashioka is expected to make Mike Shildt's Opening Day roster as the backup to Luis Campusano, with Brett Sullivan serving as the third catcher on the taxi squad down at El Paso.

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