Checking in on the Juan Soto trade as Yankees prepare for Padres series

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After the win Thursday afternoon, the New York Yankees hopped on a plane to hit the West Coast for a nine-game road trip that will feature an opening matchup with the San Diego Padres. It'll be the first meeting of the two teams since the offseason Juan Soto trade.

How's that going, by the way? Yankees fans know it's been transcendent in New York (even if it meant paying extra to take on Trent Grisham for the Padres' troubles), but how's it been going for San Diego?

Now, the Padres very well needed to trade Soto if they felt 2024 wasn't "the year," which there was validity to after the 2023 turmoil and various injuries that affected the roster. Anytime you can maximize the value in a return for one of the best players in baseball, you have to do it.

But did AJ Preller and the Padres actually do it? The Yankees sent pitchers Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito, as well as veteran catcher Kyle Higashioka, to San Diego for Soto ($31.5 million) and Grisham ($5.5 million).

Even with the Yankees only getting one guaranteed year of Soto and only defensive contributions from Grisham (and a homer and one bunt!), it's hard to argue against them winning this trade without question.

Checking in on the Juan Soto trade as Yankees prepare for Padres series

When you realize names like Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt were also floated in the talks, it looks even worse for the Padres, as the two right-handers have saved the Yankees rotation with some of the best performances in the league to date. As for the pitchers the Padres got?

  • Michael King - 4.28 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 1.31 WHIP in 11 games (10 starts); leads MLB in HR allowed (12) and NL in walks (28)
  • Randy Vasquez - 5.82 ERA, 5.02 FIP and 1.75 WHIP in five starts
  • Jhony Brito - 3.96 ERA, 3.73 FIP and 1.32 WHIP in 16 relief appearances
  • Drew Thorpe - traded for Dylan Cease
  • Kyle Higashioka - .150 AVG, .425 OPS and -0.3 WAR in 14 games

That's decidedly ... not good. While the Padres did well to turn Thorpe into Cease, who is currently one of the best starters in the NL, they also happened to trade the best asset they received from the Yankees in that deal. Thorpe is 6-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in eight Double-A starts with the White Sox organization.

Had the Yankees kept King and sent Schmidt or Gil packing, there may have been a shred of regret. But King was always the arm to trade, given his limited experience in the rotation and the fact the Yankees maximized his value to unrealistic heights in just six weeks' time.

The Yankees have the best record in the American League, even as they burn money on 19 games of Grisham, who, however, has covered a ton of ground in the outfield, allowing Aaron Judge to get off his feet every once in a while. He's batting just .056 with a .366 OPS in 45 plate appearances, but his offensive output was never a factor in this deal. He was brought in to be a surefire defensive fourth outfield option, and potentially fodder later down the road with Jasson Dominguez returning in the summer.

How we'd grade it? Yankees: A. Padres: C+