Would you look at that. The New York Yankees haven't conducted their "audit" yet -- which at this point, we have to believe is fake -- but they've begun getting their ducks in a row for what's shaping up to be a hectic offseason. They really went out on a limb here, too.
Per reports, the Yankees have "had a preliminary conversation about Juan Soto" with the San Diego Padres, who are in a state of flux. They just kicked manager Bob Melvin out the door and are expected to lose Blake Snell and Josh Hader (among others) to free agency. Soto's future heading into 2024 is unclear, but it's a given teams are going to contact the Pads about the generational star.
The Yankees should be at the front of the line. Perhaps Brian Cashman finally figured out that he, more times than not, should be involved on the "obvious" moves that would clearly make a difference. Still, though, it feels like this latest report leaked to have unruly fans shut up for a few minutes.
At the same time, however, SNY's Andy Martino reported something particularly intriguing at the bottom of the article revealing the news. It might be possible for the Yankees to clear some salary in a hypothetical Soto deal, which would give them flexibility to make other additions.
What might that look like? A rival executive weighed in and suggested the Yankees could part with a fairly pricey veteran that definitely doesn't have a place here beyond 2024.
Latest Yankees-Padres trade rumor has one unexpected, beneficial wrinkle
"It is almost impossible to imagine the Yankees swapping Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez for one year of any player. But the team does have high-end prospects and rookie depth in Austin Wells, Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira. The Yanks like all of those players, but would obviously have to trade someone of value for Soto.- Andy Martino, SNY
One rival official unaffiliated with the Yankees and Padres also wondered if the Yankees could include a veteran like first baseman Anthony Rizzo in a Soto deal, because the Padres are not rebuilding.
Rizzo has a year remaining on his contact, then a club option for 2025. He has a limited no-trade clause; the teams are not known."
Would the Pads really be interested in Rizzo? They could technically use a first baseman, but at that price? Coming off a serious head injury that drastically affected his play?
Rizzo's time in the Bronx has been ... solid. Across 278 games, he's hit .235/.334/.433 (good for a .768 OPS and 113 OPS+) with 52 homers and 137 RBI. But he's aging. He's another redundant bat that doesn't make contact. He makes the Yankees slower and less athletic, which have been among the paramount issues plaguing the roster.
Getting his $17 million off the books without having to worry about his 2025 option (which carries a $6 million buyout) would feel like a gigantic victory while also giving the Padres a stabilizing veteran who can produce and help turn a clubhouse around (because who knows what's going on in San Diego). On the flip side, the Yankees can easily find another first baseman, or keep DJ LeMahieu there for the time being since he's not going anywhere and needs to be utilized if he's going to stay and take up $15 million annually.
Do we think this is true? Not necessarily. But the Padres have done crazier things, and the Yankees need to make many more roster subtractions even with the hypothetical addition of Soto. We'll call this "something to monitor."