Yankees' list of untouchables in Juan Soto trade should be tiny (and maybe invisible)

Who are you protecting here?
San Diego Padres v New York Yankees
San Diego Padres v New York Yankees / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

The New York Yankees shouldn't have to overpay to trade for Juan Soto. But, if push comes to shove, they shouldn't mind doing so.

Call it bad business. Call it residual scarring. But anyone who watched the 2023 Yankees and genuinely believes that any of the people, places and things that teamed up to make that roster so middling should stand in the way of the pursuit of the next Ted Williams is free to reach out at any time.

Now, all of this speculation could be an unnecessary exercise in throwing caution to the wind. It should be unnecessary for the Yankees to bleed in order to nab one year of an all-world lefty slugger at a position of need. Previous trades for stars with limited control like Francisco Lindor and Manny Machado have featured hodge-podges highlighted by a single top-100 prospect and various lottery tickets. If the Yankees agree to take on, say, Matt Carpenter's salary, they can probably reduce their prospect cost even further. There is almost no reason -- if Soto's actually, genuinely available -- for these talks to go beyond "Everson Pereira/Oswald Peraza, plus pick two pitchers you love, and take an FCL king."

But ... if the bidding gets tough, the tough should get bidding. The Yankees have a long way to go to prove they deserve to be viewed as heavy-hitters. And if the Padres request a conversation that starts with Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez -- the only two New Yorkers who should theoretically be kept out of the chase -- the Yankees still shouldn't shut the door.

Yankees trade package for Juan Soto: Anyone but Jasson Dominguez, no matter what. And maybe even him.

Again -- they won't! They will not request five years of Volpe in exchange for one year of Soto, plus additional prospect capital.

But the Gold Glove candidate/20-20 hitter's most impressive 2023 accomplishment might've been somehow still managing to post a below-average offensive season (81 OPS+). He ran out of steam in September, creating more questions than ever after he'd seemingly solved things in mid-June.

Some of the shine was off Dominguez's apple before he debuted spectacularly in the Bronx, but all blown-away fans have to work with is one glorious week. The Martian's UCL wasn't so otherworldly. He should make a full recovery from Tommy John surgery, but that remains an unknown until he actually recovers. And a glorious four-homer week does not a career make.

The Padres would be completely unreasonable to demand either of the two young Yankees without years of established control tacked onto Soto's ledger. But the Yankees are stuck in the kind of purgatory that only young, left-handed, superstar-level talent can help them escape, and whatever it takes to secure an exclusive negotiating window with such a talent must be pursued.

It won't take this much. Luckily. But the Yankees cannot let the feeling of being stretched slightly past their limits prevent them from chiseling through the tunnel to the light.