We're open for business at the Winter Meetings at Crazy Preller's Used MLB Player Dealership, and EVERYTHING. MUST. GO!
Well, not quite everything, but word out of San Diego is that the Padres discovered the error of their ways after missing October in 2023 and intend to slash payroll entering next season. No word on exactly how far they'll go, but the anticipation is they'll aim to land around $200 million to pave the path to further profitability. That would mean a 20% reduction, mostly achieved via letting free agents walk and potentially moving some escalating arbitration costs. Is ... that something that could possibly interest Aaron Judge?
The Padres would like to remind everyone that this isn't a Fire Sale. It's simply an admission of guilt, as well as an opportunity for the rest of MLB to add any high-priced recent Padres who aren't tied down (as well as some who are tied down). In other words, at least three-quarters of a fire sale, and the Yankees should be heavily involved. The following three current Padres players are the most logical targets.
RED ALERT DO NOT SIGN RED ALERT: Josh Hader. Sorry, but the Yankees -- in their somewhat precarious financial position -- cannot be shelling out $50-70 million across multiple years to a volatile closer who relies on his elite velocity. If the Yankees sign Hader, he might lock down the ninth in 2024 (and 2025, if they're lucky), but it's more likely he catapults their bloated payroll into Padres territory, triggering yet another sell-off.
3 Padres from 2023 roster who could change Yankees' fortunes in 2024
Blake Snell, LHP
Rumor has it Blake Snell's next contract will approach and exceed $200 million, especially in the wake of his nearly unhittable second half (which should earn him a near-unanimous Cy Young before the Winter Meetings). Any rotation would be beefed up by a potential Snell addition, and although the Yankees love their fleet of young pitching ... (say it with me now) YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH OF IT.
Nestor Cortes Jr. was fantastic in 2021-22, but cannot be relied upon to contribute in 2024, especially given the area in which his injury occurred. Rotator cuff surgery could be a pitching death knell, and Yankees fans should be on pins and needles until it's ruled out entirely. Carlos Rodón has come on strong late, but again ... he can't be penciled in. Michael King and Clarke Schmidt could occupy rotation spots next season. They could also be included in offseason trade packages in a classic Yankees "sell high." Luis Severino won't be back. Frankie Montas won't be back. Jhony Brito is probably a reliever. Randy Vásquez? How could any Yankee fan be against adding more pitching?
Pitching is the game's most volatile commodity. Even when it seems as if someone's been squeezed out of a rotation spot and into a "sixth starter/swingman role," they always find themselves back in the mix. Adding Japanese import Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Snell would be good business, not overkill (as long as the offense is also addressed). Everything should be addressed. The Yankees weren't very good this year. No area has been taken care of.
It wasn't too long ago that Aaron Judge and Snell paid tribute to one another on social media when the Padres visited the Yankees in the Bronx. Snell is no longer a "buy-low trade candidate," though, as he was back then. Instead, he's the NL's most prominent pitching star and in line for a payday the Yankees can provide (and the Padres cannot).