The New York Yankees buying at the trade deadline is not a good idea. In fact, it's probably a rather dumb idea. New York has earned its place in the cellar of the AL East thanks to roster mismanagement, underperformance, and injuries. It stinks to be sure, but that's the reality that the Yankees are faced with this year.
It is possible, though, that the team could play better in the second half. It doesn't look like it right now, but crazier thins have happened. Aaron Judge is going to (hopefully) come back fromthat pesky toe injury of his and the rest of the offense could wake up and start doing its job. One probably shouldn't bet on a big run, but there's a non-zero chance of that happening at least.
Let's assume that you are the most optimistic of Yankees observers and think the team should actually add at the deadline. Even if Judge were to hop into a time machine and go to a future where they can heal injuries instantly and come back, New York would still need another outfielder who can hit, and this trade market is not great for that kind of player.
The Cardinals will have some "meh" guys available now that they have finally decided to sell and the Nationals' Lane Thomas is interesting as someone who would come with team control attached, but that's about it for guys that would be available to New York. Yes yes, Adam Duvall exists, but there's no shot Boston trades him to the Yankees. Zero.
However, one big wrinkle in the trade market could change everything is if the San Diego Padres decide to sell at the deadline. If that happens, the Yankees could surprise everyone and pull off a deal for superstar outfielder Juan Soto.
Will the Padres actually sell at the trade deadline? And could the Yankees be interested?
The first part of this harebrained scheme involves the Padres actually being sellers at the trade deadline and that seems to be the biggest hurdle. Even as recently as the last few days, the Padres have been projecting a sense of confidence that they can make a run and look to be buyers.
However, what the Padres' front office is saying publicly is pretty divorced from their actual reality. Despite all of that money they invested in their roster, San Diego still finds itself five games below .500 and in fourth place in the brutal NL West. It would be one thing if they were just a few games out of a playoff spot, but the Padres are (as of 7/19) 7.5 games out of a wild card spot and a full 10.5 games back in the division.
So, we will pretend for the moment that the Padres don't care how much money and effort they put into competing in 2023. An honest look at their chances this season should make them realize that they need to look forward to next season and beyond and not try to force anything for 2023.
The next logical step then is to identify their best trade chips, and with Soto having one year left of team control after 2023, he would be an amazing asset that could set San Diego up for success for the foreseeable future if they play their cards right.
What would the Yankees have to give up to get Juan Soto?
Okay, so we've established a world where the Padres could actually decide to move Soto at the deadline and we know for certain that the Yankees would love to have him. Now comes the hard part: putting together a trade package (or at least the foundations of one) that the Padres would actually consider.
Trading for superstars is notoriously hard, not only because of their value in a vacuum, but because teams trading them away have to sell the deal to their fans after the fact. Sure, some teams screw it up royally *cough* Boston *cough* Mookie Betts *cough*, but the Padres aren't stupid and will require a large trade package for Soto. Fortunately, we have the Padres' own trade package they gave up for Soto to compare against and we know that they will want to compete again in the short-term.
For reference, the Padres gave up CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III, James Wood, Jarlin Susana, and Luke Voit for Soto (with an extra year of team control) as well as Josh Bell who was a legitimate MLB slugger at the time.
Pricing in one fewer full year of team control from Soto, not including a player like Bell, and getting the more expensive years that Soto has left in arbitration, it's still going to require three high-end prospects from the Yankees system to even start a conversation for Soto. Jasson Dominguez is an easy name to circle, but he hasn't been able to hit at Double-A and one wonders if the Padres would prefer to make sure that some players a little closer to big-league ready.
Everson Pereira fits the bill as a near major-league-ready outfielder who can really hit and has some upside. Austin Wells is a highly-regarded catching prospect at Double-A which could work out great as the Padres await the arrival of Ethan Salas. If the Padres insist on a pitcher being included, Will Warren has been missing bats at a high rate at Triple-A.
So, could the Yankees empty out the top end of their farm system and get Soto at the trade deadline? Maybe.
Should they do it? Probably not, but desperate times may call for desperate measures in the Bronx.