While the New York Yankees got the job done and traded for Juan Soto, which felt like something the fans were owed for the countless other misses and horrific trades since 2018, it could've been a lot worse had somebody else swooped in and given the San Diego Padres a better offer.
Thankfully, Brian Cashman exercised urgency after watching this team languish for the better part of three years and got the second-biggest prize of the offseason.
But let's live in an alternate (or, actually, very realistic?) universe where the Yankees and Cashman didn't push the Soto deal across the finish line. What would've been the Plan B for the Bombers with their offense on the fritz?
Alex Verdugo and ... Jeimer Candelario? New York had already acquired Verdugo to address their need for a lefty outfielder but also reportedly had their eyes on Candelario, who ended up signing with the Cincinnati Reds for three years and $45 million after the Soto deal was finalized.
Would the Bronx have been in flames if the team's first two deals of the offseason were Verdugo and Candelario with the chances of Soto diminishing?
Yankees' supposed Plan B if Juan Soto deal fell through would've enraged NYY fans
"[Gordon] Wittenmyer [of the Cincinnati Enquirer] also notes that the Yankees were in on Candelario before they finalized the Juan Soto deal. Once that trade was completed, it allowed the Reds to take the lead with Candelario. That would perhaps suggest the Yanks had some willingness to bump DJ LeMahieu into a utility role or perhaps then put Gleyber Torres on the trading block. But after the club got the offensive boost they were looking for by remaking their outfield with the additions of Soto, Trent Grisham and Alex Verdugo, manager Aaron Boone announced that LeMahieu would man the hot corner for them in 2024."- MLBTradeRumors
Unless there was a world in which Candelario would've accompanied Verdugo and Soto? But that's hard to believe because of the Yankees' involvement in the Yoshinobu Yamamoto race. Why would they have given $45 million to another middling offensive player? Candelario, though a switch hitter and somewhat versatile defender, has a career .243 average and 102 OPS+
You can just as easily see that quote coming from Cashman after failing to secure the more impactful player. Yankees fans have lived it far too many times over.
But hey, it didn't happen. Soto is a Yankee. The front office is still aggressive in their pursuits of other big names, and perhaps other deals are being explored that we've yet to hear. But fans know how Verdugo and Candelario would've been justified had AJ Preller and the Padres decided to pull the rug out from under the deal at the 11th hour.