A good way for a well-liked former Yankee to fall out of the fans' good graces is to make headlines not too long after a departure from the organization. Michael King emerged as a fan-favorite from 2022-2023 but unfortunately had to be shipped off to San Diego in order for the Yankees to acquire superstar Juan Soto.
It was a necessary evil that had to occur. New York needed an all-world lefty bat, and for as good as King is, he was trending towards a fungible asset. Yes, he was an incredible bullpen piece, but a concerning elbow injury in July of 2022 has left fans concerned ever since.
Not only that, but the Yankees moved him into a starting role at the back end of 2023, which felt like a last-ditch effort to maximize his trade value. King was a failed starter before moving to the bullpen, but then made nine starts down the stretch of a failed season.
He managed to log a 2.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while striking out 51 batters in 40.1 innings, which likely had the Padres (and other teams) more interested in his services. Bullpen asseets are largely easy to come by, but not cost-controlled starters.
In the end, the Yankees didn't need King because, well, they never experienced his abilities as a starter in a season that actually mattered. That made it easier to swallow when they parted with him -- a trade that clearly minimized risk and helped the Yankees get exactly what they needed.
But King doesn't see it that way. He thinks the Padres won the Soto deal, which will now, inevitably, have Yankees fans objecting to his commentary.
Michael King stirs the pot with Yankees-Padres Juan Soto trade comments
"I continue to praise [Padres general manager] A.J. Preller and be confident in saying I feel like the Padres won the trade. I feel like the talent we’ve gotten, I was shocked to see the Yankees part with that many people. Obviously, it’s Juan Soto, so you have to give up a big package, but I was pumped to see who was coming with me to San Diego. I know they’re gonna contribute this year and for years to come."- Michael King via NY Post
Hey, he's on a new team. He needs to feel good about his situation. And he's confident in himself and his teammates that made the cross-country trek with him. With the exception of Kyle Higashioka, everyone else in the trade package that the Padres received showed promise in 2023. King is bullish on this group. He's not wrong about Preller's ability to scout talent, either.
But ... won the trade? Before anybody's taken the field? Soto is an MVP-type commodity and indisputably one of the best players in the game. King was the best player headed to San Diego in this package and he's had barely two seasons' worth of success at the MLB level.
Yankees fans will be pulling for King in 2024, but he just put a target on his back when the Bombers face off against the Padres in May.