Addressing The Needs: Juan Soto
Through 1/4th of the season the Yankees are playing great. However, there are concerns for some positions. Are fixes available now?
Who is Juan Soto?
Coming out of the Dominican Republic, Juan Soto was signed as an international free agent by the Washington Nationals in 2015. However, like most international signees- especially those who sign at 16 years old- he did not make his professional debut until a year later in 2016.
Soto started his 2016 with the Gulf Coast League Nationals (Rookie), which is interesting as most international signees take at least half a season to come stateside. Soto started right in Florida and even had a short stint with the Auburn Doubledays (Class A Short Season). Interestingly, Soto would move up to the Class A Hagerstown Suns to start the 2017 season, but suffered an ankle injury early in the season and spent the end of the season back with the GCL Nationals. In 2018, Soto was a consensus Top-100 prospect, ranking as high as 29 by MLB Pipeline. To start the season he went back to Hagerstown for 16 games and then was promoted to the Potomac Nationals (Class A Advanced) for 15 games, and the Harrisburg Senators (Double A) for 8 games. And while that's a relatively short complete season, Soto didn't end 2018 due to injury either.
On May 20th, 2018 Juan Soto made his MLB debut as a 19-year-old with just a 122 minor league game experience behind him. And while that's nuts, it's even more nuts that he hit to an outstanding 142 OPS+ that season. As a 19-year-old. With less than a full year of total professional game experience. AND HE RAKED!
Since breaking into the MLB in 2018, Soto has hit to a career .295/.427/.539 (.966 OPS/158 OPS+) with 106 home runs in 509 games, 2 Top-5 MVP finishes (and 1 other Top-10), a 2nd place finish in the Rookie of the Year, and two Silver Slugger awards.
So far in 2022, he is hitting to a .236/.379/.435 (.814 OPS/140 OPS+) extended triple-slash.
Why the Yankees Could/Should Get Him:
Juan Soto may become the first $500 Million Dollar Man. He rejected a 13-Year/$350 Million ($26.9M AAV) offer from the Washington Nationals going into this season, which would've kept him under control until he was...35? Yeah, he's still just 23 years old and with 3 years of control (including this season), he is set to reach free agency after 2024 while going into his age-26 season (a la Bryce Harper and Manny Machado during the 2018-2019 offseason).
Side Note: Is it unrealistic to expect a team to offer Soto a $500 Million contract over 15 years (ages 26 until 40)? Truthfully, I don't think it is. That's an AAV of "just" $33.3M, which would be below the contract Mike Trout signed and would be $3M less per year than Gerrit Cole. In terms of the money that is in baseball, it's really not unheard of anymore for someone to make half a BILLION dollars. Juan Soto could be that guy. (Heck, Patrick Mahomes already passed the $500 Million mark, though football contracts are much different than baseball.)
The Washington Nationals are also in a tough spot. The New York Mets with Steve Cohen at the helm are going to spend and spend and spend until he wins a championship, the Atlanta Braves have a much better core, the Philadelphia Phillies are always a threat (but play down every year), and heck, even the Marlins are starting to run a solid franchise. Unless the Nationals are in to double-down on spending even more, the move may be to trade Soto now while the going is good. Trading him could bring back enough value to restart their franchise immediately and put them back into contention in the NL East. (They are 16-30 right now.)
For the Yankees, if Soto is available, you do everything you can to get him. He'd be a perfect replacement for Joey Gallo and would absolutely take this team into that next level to really make sure they can win in the postseason.
Why the Yankees Couldn't/Shouldn't Get Him:
But, why would the Nationals give up on Juan Soto? He's still around for 3 years and they have time to build around him. Add in they have exclusive negotiation rights on keeping him around forever and a trade may never happen. (Soto won't sign an extension, though. He's a Scott Boras client.)
Even more so, Juan Soto is also the 4th most valuable player in the MLB right now. He has a value of +206.7 MTV, which is not only absolutely nuts but makes him incredibly hard to trade for on face value. For example, the Yankees would need to add the following players to get to +206.7 MTV:
Anthony Volpe (+55.4 MTV)
Aaron Judge (+38.9 MTV)
Jonathan Loaisiga (+27.6 MTV)
Jordan Montgomery (+25.6 MTV)
Oswaldo Peraza (+21.2 MTV)
Everson Pereira (+16.8 MTV)
Nestor Cortes (+15.5 MTV)
Luis Gil (+5.8 MTV)
= 206.8 MTV.
That's the Yankees 7th most valuable players in their organization AND Luis Gil. The Yankees do not have enough to trade for Juan Soto.
But, they have more than enough to trade for Stephen Strasburg (-159.6 MTV): the least valuable player in the MLB. Combine Strasburg and Soto and they are worth a combined +47.10 MTV.
Anthony Volpe alone (on paper) would make that trade work out. Heck, I'd even add in Everson Pereira AND Joey Gallo (+11.7 MTV) if the Nationals wanted to get back a current MLB player and a promising prospect.
Whatever to make it work. Get Juan Soto on this team, if you can!
Ethan's Major Take:
Think of this rotation:
Nestor Cortes Jr.
And this line-up:
DJ LeMahieu (2B) - RH
Aaron Judge (RF) - RH
Juan Soto (LF) - LH
Giancarlo Stanton (DH) - RH
Anthony Rizzo (1B) - LH
Josh Donaldson (3B) - RH
Isiah Kiner-Falefa (SS) - RH
Jose Trevino/Kyle Higashioka (C) - RH
Aaron Hicks (CF) - SH
Make sense? (And if they're doing something crazy like getting Soto, the Yankees may as well go absolutely nuts and bring in Willson Contreras AND a true center fielder. Make this team into an absolute powerhouse. Make them impossible to beat!)