Before anybody is allowed to get excited about the possibility of Juan Soto wearing pinstripes, New York Yankees fans need to understand how a trade for the Washington Nationals star would drastically affect the franchise.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Soto rejected a mammoth 15-year, $440 million contract from the Nats and Washington is now “open to listening to trade offers.” Can’t really blame them, either. Though it’s just a $29.33 million AAV, it’d be the richest contract in the sport ahead of Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal.
First of all, if the Yankees were to trade for Soto before this year’s deadline, that would mean Aaron Judge likely isn’t going to be a Yankee after 2022. Soto plays right field, is a particularly below-average defender so he can’t really be moved elsewhere (he last played left field two years ago), and Giancarlo Stanton is locked in as the team’s main DH for the foreseeable future.
Secondly, once this report hit the mainstream, speculation suggested Soto will require a “Kevin Durant-like” haul from any team that’s interested, which will all but officially gut just about any farm system out there.
Nobody is suggesting the Yankees shouldn’t consider trading their top young talent for one of the best players in the game … but when you already have one of the best right fielders (who just got the most All-Star votes of any player), why not just pay him, keep your assets, and address other areas of the roster?
You’re losing both money and prospects (and potentially Judge) in trading for Soto. And if Judge is included in a plan that is Soto-focused, then you’re once again creating a bizarre outfield logjam that doesn’t need to necessarily exist and will create further problems down the road as both Judge and Stanton age (the Yankees have already showed hesitance in continuing to trot Judge out to play center field).
Yankees Rumors: Juan Soto trade buzz surrounding New York
However, that’s seemingly not going to stop the Yankees from inquiring. Per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com, the Yankees might offer “whatever it takes” to land Soto should they further immerse themselves in the conversation with the Nationals. On Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan said the Yankees were one of four teams that possess the depth to acquire Soto.
It’s easy to see how this all aligns. Soto is among the best players in the sport. The Yankees are historically the best team in the sport with a penchant for using their deep pockets and scouting wits to continuously stockpile premier talent. No-brainer, and quite frankly fairly easy to “report” depending on what baseball brains you’re speaking with.
There is an ugly scenario with regards to all of this, though. If the Yankees were to trade for Soto, it’d likely give them leverage in the contract talks with Judge, who, while still open to re-signing with the team, expressed his desire to go through the free agency process even though very few teams can likely offer him the contract he desires.
Is this all a wild ploy for the Yankees to build some sort of superteam while keeping Judge under their terms in order to give Soto the eventual $500 million contract he and agent Scott Boras are seeking? Is this just surface-level reporting of connecting the most recognized franchise to the game’s best young player? Or is this the Yankees spilling out some info to gain leverage (with no dying interest in Soto) without actually doing anything to strain the relationship with Judge?
Just another day in the conspiracy realm trying to understand a report connecting the Yankees to somebody on the trade market. New York fans call it “July.”