When the San Diego Padres traded for Juan Soto at the 2022 deadline, they were getting 2.5 years of the superstar outfielder, which was almost unheard of. They were also receiving slugging first baseman Josh Bell in the deal. This time around, if the New York Yankees trade for Soto, they'll be getting one year of the slugger and will have to pay $32 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility. (compared to ~$28 million the Padres paid for 1.5 years).
And that's exactly why the latest rumored asking price from the Pads makes absolutely no sense, no matter how you look at the trade talks.
Back in 2022, the Padres sent Luke Voit and top prospects CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III, James Wood and Jarlin Susana to the Nationals in that initial blockbuster deal. That's six total players, five of them being top prospects (Abrams, Gore, Hassell and Wood were among the league's top 100).
Somehow, the Yankees are rumored to be pressured to provide a similar trade package for 1.5 fewer years of Soto, and with a worse player than Bell attached to the deal (Trent Grisham). It's obvious the Yankees have to give to get here, but when does it end? How could anybody view this asking price fairly?
In this scenario, New York is being asked to surrender 2/5 of their current starting rotation, two important bullpen pieces that recently emerged, their No. 4 prospect, and two more prospects. That's a total of seven players for one year of Soto and two years of Grisham (totaling about $15 million).
Padres' latest rumored asking price for Juan Soto is preying on Yankees' desperation
The Yankees have little use for Grisham, who has hit below the Mendoza line each of the last two seasons. His value couldn't be lower. He's struck out 304 times in his last 305 games and his OPS+ number has sat in the 80s. Sure, he's a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder, but the Yankees aren't desperate for that. It's not a luxurious addition to the expanded deal. It's the Padres dumping an undesirable player with an escalating salary onto New York.
What's equally ridiculous, however, are the rumors suggesting Brian Cashman is refusing to part with Michael King and Drew Thorpe. That's non-negotiable and even the most ignorant Yankees fan understands that. But we've yet to reach that toxic part of the discussion. Right now, we're hung up on the rumored present-day trade package somehow exceeding the one a year and a half ago.
If this is an exercise by Padres' GM AJ Preller to gauged the absolute most he can get in a return, it shouldn't last too long. If it's an indication the Padres don't want to trade Soto until the 2024 deadline, then the Yankees need to focus their attention elsehwere, and fast. But something tells us it's simply just the Padres preying on New York's desperation after an 82-80 season (and your classic example of a "Yankees Tax" in offseason trade talks) because, somehow, Alek Manoah has popped up as a rumored target for the Padres in their talks with the Blue Jays for Soto.
Manoah? The guy whose value went from Cy Young candidate to Rookie League Ball punching bag? Is he the last player involved in a hypothetical seven-player deal with the Blue Jays? Because that's the only reason his name should be coming up in the negotiations, since just about every rumored Yankees asset discussed with San Diego has more value than him.
In all fairness, there's stubbornness on both sides if these rumors have any veracity to them. Cashman should be punted out the door if King/Thorpe are dealbreakers. He should also be punted out the door if he continues to waste time entertaining a seven-player deal for Soto knowing the outfielder isn't an extension candidate.
This was supposed to be relatively straightforward, wasn't it? And, in short order, it's become a massive headache.