Saturday, February 24 2024

While the Shohei Ohtani watch goes on across baseball, the New York Yankees made the biggest splash of the MLB offseason so far by trading for San Diego Padres star Juan Soto on Wednesday, the teams announced.

The 25-year-old outfielder will head to the Bronx for the 2024 season before becoming a free agent in a year. Soto’s 2024 contract, which represents his last year of arbitration, is projected to be $33 million. The Yanks are also acquiring Padres outfielder Trent Grisham in the deal.

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The move signals the Yankees’ seriousness about contending next season after missing the playoffs in 2023 for the first time in seven years. The Bombers finished 82-80 and in fourth place in the loaded AL East. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner elected to retain longtime general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone, but promised, “We are going to do everything we can to right the ship for 2024.”

The acquisition of Soto came at a hefty price for the Yanks, who parted with promising major-league pitcher Michael King, catcher Kyle Higashioka, starter Jhony Brito and pitching prospects Drew Thorpe (the team’s No. 5 prospect, per MLB.com) and Randy Vásquez (No. 13).

The loss of King, who moved from the Yankees’ bullpen to their rotation late in the season, is a more immediate blow to a pitching staff that lacked both quality and depth in 2023 behind AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, but the team remains in the hunt for prized Japanese free-agent ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Yamamoto is expected to command a significant long-term contract, and the Yanks face competition from the crosstown Mets, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, among others.

A left-handed bat, Soto fills a notable need in the Yankees’ outfield and lineup. He’s the second outfielder the team has added this week, with New York also trading for the Boston Red SoxAlex Verdugo on Tuesday. As a team, the Yankees ranked 24th in MLB last season in OPS (.701) and nearly dead last in batting average (.227), above only the lowly Oakland A’s. Soto hit .275 with 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .930 OPS in 2023.

For the Padres, shedding Soto’s payroll for 2024 helps a front office that is already locked into several big long-term contracts and was hurt financially in the Diamond Sports bankruptcy saga when it lost the final seven years of a 20-year, $1.2 billion television contract. Last month, The Athletic reported San Diego took out a $50 million loan to meet payroll in September. The Padres also missed the playoffs in 2023, finishing third in the NL West.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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