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Rosenthal: As New York Yankees distance from possible Juan Soto trade, Toronto Blue Jays make ‘ideal fit’ for slugger

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Photo credit:© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
2 months ago
Where there’s smoke, there’s often fire — and boy, there is a lot of smoke around Toronto.
Earlier Friday, Shohei Ohtani talks were intensifying, with industry sources indicating to ESPN’s Jeff Passan that a decision from the superstar was “barreling toward the finish line.” Passan noted how the LA Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs and the Angels were still in the running for the two-way player.
Hours later, another prominent name in the marketplace appeared again: Juan Soto.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the New York Yankees — who have seemingly near the front of the pack for Soto’s services — were “far apart on a deal” and that the Blue Jays were “one of several teams talking to the Padres” about the slugger they no longer can afford.
Rosenthal’s report went on to state the Padres, who in September were forced to take out a $50-million loan to assist with short-term cash flow and making payroll, are looking for a “big, multi-player return” for Soto. Those pieces, he added, were expected to include “major-league-ready or near major-league-ready pitching.”

Aug 4, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) celebrates with third base coach Matt Williams (18) after hitting a home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning at Petco Park.

The Padres currently have six members of their 2023 pitching staff — Blake Snell, Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, Nick Martinez, Luis Garcia and closer Josh Hader — on the free agent market. They’re a sextuplet that accounted for 609.1 innings hurled last season, a staggering 42 percent of the total innings from their staff last year.
Rosenthal said that lower-level pitchers could be accepted, but only if the Padres believed them to be “sufficiently talented,” naming several Jays who could make sense as options in Ricky Tiedemann, Bowden Francis and Alek Manoah.
“The Jays, like other clubs, would be concerned about paying Soto $30 million-plus for one season, then likely losing him as a free agent,” he appended, “but they are under pressure to win.”
Landing Juan Soto, should the Jays fall to the Dodgers in the Ohtani sweepstakes as some are predicting could very well be possible, would be nothing short of a significant, franchise-altering addition. A 2019 World Series champion with the Washington Nationals, Soto is a three-time all-star whose 35 home runs in 2023 were a career-high.
Soto’s .421 career on-base percentage is the highest among active players, while his .9455 OPS ranks third behind only Aaron Judge and Mike Trout, as is his adjusted OPS+ of 157.
Simply put, Soto is one of the best offensive players in the game and would instantly put the Jays near the top of World Series odds.
As Rostenthal said in the final paragraph of his article, there’s some inherent risk with Soto for any team acquiring him, as the slugger turned down a 15-year, $440-million offer from the Nationals. It prompted his trade to the Padres at the 2022 deadline, and his agent, Scott Boras, “prefers his clients to establish their values through open bidding.”
The Toronto Blue Jays, however, don’t appear to waver by such consideration.
“There’s no aversion to (rentals),” Atkins told media members earlier this week.
Meanwhile, SNY’s Andy Martino reported Friday that the Padres asked the Yankees for pitcher Michael King, up to six prospects, and cash in a potential Soto deal, that would also see San Diego add Trent Grisham to the package. Names like King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez, Martino added, are “too much” for the Yankees, the club beleives.
With the Major League’s winter meetings kicking off at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, Monday, all this smoke is set to catch a flame.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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