Nobody likes a monopoly, and the San Diego Padres pulled out all the stops on Friday to make sure the perception didn't match the reality. Now, on a dime, there's another team involved in trade talks for Juan Soto, resulting in a reported "pause" in the Yankees' efforts.
If Soto doesn't move this offseason, the Yankees will have to swallow their pride and accept a likely underwhelming offensive season. But if he bolts elsewhere specifically because they refused to surrender MLB-ready pitching -- essentially the only thing the Padres want -- that would qualify as yet another embarrassment in Brian Cashman's eternal quest to never lose a deal.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Brendan Kuty and The Athletic, the Yankees and Padres have both balked at one anothers' proposals thus far. San Diego has attempted to foist Trent Grisham upon the Yankees after an underwhelming season, while the Yankees are reportedly reticent to include ... well, any of the young pitching necessary to get a deal past the finish line (or even towards it).
That has led to the Toronto Blue Jays and their high-ceiling group of pitching prospects entering the fray. Next to a sudden Red Sox awakening, it's hard to imagine a more dastardly ending if the Yankees don't feel like budging.
Yankees, Blue Jays battling for Juan Soto trade (but New York's talks on pause)
MLB insider Jon Heyman went as far as to call the gap between the two sides a "chasm," and announced a pause in talks ahead of the Winter Meetings -- a pause the Yankees can't afford to extend too long, with Toronto's temptations chirping through the silence.
Heyman believes the Yankees don't want to give up either Michael King (at perhaps his highest value) or Drew Thorpe. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the inclusion of one or both feels absolutely essential (though, notably, Jasson Dominguez wasn't mentioned in this discourse at all).
Even if Soto comes with just one year of control, it would be a crucial year to have him for, as both Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole age towards the end of their primes. Additionally, what better way to get to know Soto in anticipation of offering him a massive free agent deal?
Put bluntly by Andy Martino, Cashman's reticence stinks of fish here, though the ask of "six" prospects is a patently absurd standard (and one hell of a clarification from his first tweet).
You never intentionally "pause" talks with other teams lurking. The Padres, according to Heyman, didn't receive the Yankees' counter offer well. It's still the early stages, but it's the early stages of a disaster.
King wasn't a starter between 2020 and the final month of 2023, when he shined (2.27 ERA in six September starts). This would be the highest selling point imaginable for him. Thorpe? He was breathtaking in 2023, but pitching prospects almost uniformly break, and he ended the season held out of the Double-A playoff rotation with an undisclosed injury.
There's still time, but if Cashman's refusal to trade pitching prospects -- the type of commodity you should trade most regularly -- stops his team from adding a top-five offensive player (or, worse yet, sends that player to a division rival), that could be the final Rage Straw that breaks the already aggrieved fanbase's back.