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Breaking down the trade that made Juan Soto a New York Yankee
2 months ago
The New York Yankees just made a huge splash. And it wasn’t cheap.
On Wednesday evening, the Evil Empire traded for superstar rental Juan Soto. Getting a world-class player is always a smart idea, but trading a starter when you need pitching help is less than ideal, and my oh my, did the Yankees ever overpay.
The full-trade is as follows…
The Yankees receive: Juan Soto, Trent Grisham
The Padres receive: Michael King, Kyle Higashioka, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and Drew Thorpe
A few days ago, the Yankees appeared adamant that they wouldn’t include pitchers King or Thorpe in a trade, but they budged after other teams, including the Blue Jays, got involved in the market for Soto. The Padres did well for themselves here considering they’re trading just one year of a player set to make $33 million in his final go-around at arbitration in a few weeks.
So yeah, there’s a lot to unpack here. Sure, Soto is one of the best hitters in the league, slashing .275/.410/.519 with 35 homers in 708 plate appearances in 2023. However, he’s still a rental and he’s still going to hit free agency because he’s Steve Boras. If the Yankees don’t win the World Series, they’ve pretty much lost this trade if even one player pans out, because they’d be a contender to sign him when he hits free agency.
For some reason, the Padres didn’t non-tender Grisham, meaning he’s just a salary dump. He’s had one season of above-average hitting (in 2020), but he’s been a non-factor with the bat for about three seasons now. He has great defence in centre field and the Yankees will use him as a fourth outfielder.
Then you look at what the Yankees give up (again, for a rental). Michael King had a fantastic season as New York’s swingman, posting a 2.75 ERA and a 3.13 FIP in 104.2 innings pitched. He made nine starts, and had a 2.23 ERA and a 2.68 FIP in 40.1 innings pitched. He features a nasty wipeout slider and a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. For a team that needs starting pitching, moving one of your better pitchers and hoping for Carlos Rodón to figure it out poses big risks.
Sure, they may be a contender to sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but their payroll is already at an insane $289 million, how much more can they realistically spend as the fourth-best team in the American League East?
They also dove into their future. Thorpe is a right-handed pitcher selected in the second round of the 2022 draft, a selection behind Blue Jays prospect Josh Kasevich. Between High-A and Double-A, Thorpe had a 2.52 ERA and a 3.05 FIP in 139.1 innings pitched, along with a 34 K% and a 7.1 BB%. For his excellent first season, he won MiLB’s Pitcher of the Year.
Not just that, but 25-year-old Brito has some potential, posting a 3.31 ERA and a 4.03 FIP in 70.2 innings pitched in Triple-A in 2022. He had a little bit of a learning curve in his first season in the majors, posting a 4.28 ERA and a 4.74 FIP in 90.1 innings pitched (13 starts), but the talent is there.
Vásquez is the exact same age but had more success in the majors. In 37.2 innings with the Yankees in 2023, the right-handed pitcher had a 2.87 ERA and a 4.98 FIP, along with a 19.9 K% and a 10.8 BB% in nine starts and 11 appearances.
The Yankees also traded Kyle Higashioa. The 33-year-old catcher isn’t great, but I’d argue that he played a considerable Gerrit Cole to his first-ever Cy Young award in 2023 as the ace’s personal catcher.
Is Soto one of the best players in the world? Absolutely. However, the Yankees have a ton of problems on offence that won’t be solved by two outfielders in Soto and Aaron Judge. Another issue is pitching, as Gerrit Cole surprisingly carried the staff, but trading away Michael King and young pitchers who didn’t do too poorly in the hopes that you can sign Yamamoto is an awful plan.
I guess the Yankees can enjoy the one year of Soto before he dips in free agency, as it’s hard to see them making the playoffs with the numerous issues in a stacked division.
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