The Major League Baseball season is still months away, but the wheeling and dealing we see every offseason is already heating up.
The New York Yankees pulled off a blockbuster trade Wednesday with the San Diego Padres, acquiring All-Star slugger Juan Soto in a blockbuster seven-player deal. The Bronx Bombers are sending away a host of top pitching prospects including Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez and Drew Thorpe, along with catcher Kyle Higashioka. But in return, the Yankees are getting a three-time All Star and four-time Silver Slugger award winner in the 25-year-old Soto, along with Gold Glove center fielder Trent Grisham.
It is the second massive deal involving Soto in less than two years, after San Diego obtained him from the Washington Nationals last summer. The hitting phenom batted .275 in 2023, with 35 home runs and 109 RBIs, and finished sixth in the National League Most Valuable Player race.
"He's as good an offensive player as there is," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the trade was completed. "He is a machine offensively — on base, power, and has accomplished a ton already at a young age."
It's offensive help a team like the Yankees direly needed. Despite already having sluggers like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, New York finished second-to-last in team batting average last season and narrowly avoided the team's first losing season in 31 years with a 82-80 record.
The Yankees are now loading up in hopes of returning to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2009, and adding to the franchise's league-leading 27 World Series titles.
"They were aggressive," Padres General Manager A.J. Preller said at a late-night press conference after the trade. "They had a need and Juan is an incredible player and fit the need really well. When you have two teams that line up, and you have a team that’s calling you consistently, you usually get a feel that this is something that has a chance to happen and hopefully it’s a deal that works out for both sides."
The Padres, meanwhile, are in a cost-cutting phase after missing the playoffs last season despite their World Series ambitions. The team will now look to rebuild after also losing NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo to free agency.
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