BREAKING NEWS: The Padres and Yankees have agreed on a deal sending Juan Soto to the Bronx! Details and Thoughts inside!
Juan Soto has been a major leaguer for 6 seasons and is going to be entering into his age-25 season in 2024. A left-handed outfield bat, he started in the Washington Nationals organization after signing on as an international free agent in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic.
Soto quickly came state-side in 2016, making it up to A- level ball as a 17-year old. As an 18 year-old he made it up to A ball in 2017, and then in 2018 he quickly rose the ranks from A to A Advanced to Double-A before skipping Triple-A ball entirely and getting called up to the MLB to make his debut on May 20th. Juan Soto's entire minor league career lasted just 122 games over 3 seasons, and going into the 2018 season he was a consensus Top-60 prospect in the MLB.
Juan Soto stayed with the Washington Nationals organization from 2018 until the 2022 trade deadline, when he was sent to the San Diego Padres with Josh Bell in a 8-player deal.
In his MLB career, Juan Soto has made a name for himself as the premier on-base bat of the modern game. His career mark with a .421 OBP ranks 19th best in MLB history (minimum 3000 PA's) and he has yet to finish with a season with an OBP under .400- which is helped by the fact he led the MLB in walks for each of the last three seasons.
In addition to being an on-base machine, Juan Soto also has considerable pop in his bat, only having 1 season with a SLG under .515 and NONE with fewer than 25 home runs (in seasons he played 120+ games).
Speaking of games played, Juana is also a workhorse in that regard. He's played in 150+ games in every season he's been able to (not counting his rookie season or COVID-2020). This ability of availability has also been a huge help in his being a 3-time All-Star, 4-time SIlver Slugger, and having 4 Top-10 MVP finishes (of which 2 were Top-5).
All of this greatness with Juan Soto makes him one of the games most complete players today.
Players like this you move mountains to get.
On Michael King & Drew Thorpe:
As they are now no longer part of the Yankees organization, it is time to say goodbye to Michael King and Drew Thorpe.
Michael King was a solid contributor with the Yankees for the last 5 seasons after coming to the Yankees in a 2017 trade where they sent the Miami Marlins the likes of Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith. It took a while for King to find his role in the organization, but starting during the 2021 season as he moved into a bullpen role, his value started to explode immensely. This inspired the Yankees to try King as a starting pitcher again towards the end of the 2023 season, which was also met with success.
The future for King is entirely up in the air as a potential starting pitcher or top relief arm, but either way he will be missed on the pitching staff.
Drew Thorpe is another considerable loss, coming off a 2023 season in which he was crowned the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He is expected to shoot up preseason prospect rankings into the Top-50 going into 2024.
Thorpe does present a case as a player with a lot of potential for future success, however there are major concerns with his game. While he demonstrates great command, his fastball would rank among the leagues slowest and the difference between Hudson Valley and Somerset and the Major Leagues is a considerable gap for pitchers to navigate. How well that command holds up in the MLB is a major question as his stuff requires it be top-notch for him to be valuable at the next level.
I am, and will always be, in favor of trading prospects for proven MLB talent when a team is looking to contend and push for regular and postseason success. The Yankees- due to poor roster construction in the past- have set themselves into a situation where the 2024 season needs to be an ALL-IN affair as their biggest money-makers and players are going to be aging quickly in Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole.
That means I am totally okay with trading just about anybody for the games top-tier talent now.
That top-tier talent is Juan Soto. A team in the Yankees situation needs Juan Soto now way more than they need Drew Thorpe in the future. The window to contend is closing soon. This opens the door wider now.
Trent Grisham is also a good piece to bring in. It gives the Yankees a very good 4 OF set-up for the 2024 season between Judge, Soto, Grisham, and Verdugo. Could one of Verdugo or Grisham be flipped later? (Yes.) However, the Yankees lack of OF depth ruined them last year and this is a huge improvement.
The loss of Michael King is a considerable loss for the "win-now" approach. However, for the Yankees he was a relief arm. And, if the Yankees have been good at anything in the last many years, it has been developing some of the games best relievers.
Thorpe does present a case as a player with a lot of potential for future success, however there are major concerns with his game. While he demonstrates great command, his fastball would rank among the leagues slowest and the difference between Hudson Valley and Somerset and the Major Leagues is a considerable gap for pitchers to navigate. How well that command holds up in the MLB is a major question as his stuff requires it be top-notch for him to be valuable at the next level. Which is why I am always okay with trading players in positions like his.
Just to include them, Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez are also in the deal. Both have good potential to last in the MLB, but also have a lot going against them. Would I be surprised to see them both become successful pieces in the back of a rotation somewhere? (No.) Would I be surprised if neither worked out? (Also no.) They were included to give the Padres pitching depth and nothing more.
Let's go! Welcome to New York, Juan Soto.
(Now lets continue a dominant offseason and bring in Yamamoto!)
P.S. There is a player in the trade I did not mention yet...look out for another post tomorrow. (My favorite Yankee is gone.)