Yankees fans have been burned before by fanciful additions that never came to fruition, but it's rare that the stars align between two teams as perfectly as they did between New York and San Diego once Juan Soto hit the market.
The Yankees' lineup lacked thump, as well as lefties of any kind. The Yankees forgot to carry a left fielder in 2023. The Padres? They demanded pitching depth, both big-league ready and in the upper minors. If a catcher happened to show up who could back up likely 2024 starter Gary Sánchez (free agent, they're talking), all the better. That type of desired package aligned with the Yankees' stockpiles to an almost comical degree.
Most importantly, when plugged-in reporters treated the perceived match like a fait accompli, the Yankees didn't balk at the high price or try to steer away from the move everyone saw coming (Bryce Harper...). Instead, they buckled down and got to work in an effort to be gargantuan again, making ... well, nearly the same trade they appeared to shy away from a few days ago. Right down to the Trent Grisham.
When talks reached an impasse ahead of the Winter Meetings, rumor had it the Yankees were balking at the inclusion of either right-hander Michael King, who excelled as a starter in September, and Drew Thorpe, MLB Pipeline's Minor-League Pitcher of the Year. Ultimately, the Padres' posturing worked; both King and Thorpe were included in the trade, as well as additional pieces of the Yankees' sizeable pitching stockpile. Soto will almost assuredly test free agency, but in exchange, the Yankees will receive one year of performance and information gathering on one of baseball's best hitters. A win-win for both sides, and we can thank both the Yankees and Padres for making sure the inevitable didn't turn into a calamity.
Yankees trade for Juan Soto (pending medicals), surrender Michael King and Drew Thorpe
Of course, we couldn't get to the finish line here without one more Annoyance Snag, courtesy of Andy Martino a few minutes after Morosi's initial tweet. It's felt as if this deal has been done and dusted for a day, and yet ... there's no fan base the world at large loves to mess with more than this one, right?
Soto's defense leaves plenty to be desired, he wrote in the understatement of the year; his -16 OAA from 2022 and 2023 tells the story of someone who typically slugs rather than slinks across the outfield grass. But, you know what? Giancarlo Stanton is a known commodity, at this point, and what's known about him is that he's rarely present. The DH role could open for Soto on April 18. Even if it never does, this is still an extremely necessary move that the Yankees -- the NEW YORK YANKEES -- couldn't afford to pass on after a decade mainly comprised of half-measures.
Though the Yoshinobu Yamamoto chase won't pick up until next week and no one knows much about how it could potentially be resolved, the Yankees indicated to Andy Martino on Wednesday that they'd be willing to pass a $300 million payroll in order to lure both Soto and Yamamoto, and that neither pursuit affected the other.
That would represent an almost impossible pill to swallow for most MLB teams, but that is also what makes the Yankees the Yankees. If they intend to spend commensurate with their franchise's value through the remainder of Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge's primes, that is a far more significant piece of news than the inclusion of King or Thorpe. If only for one year, the Yankees have returned to the market they should've been playing in since the Baby Bombers Era began.