Juan Soto, the 25-year-old superstar outfielder, is heading to the New York Yankees in exchange for four pitchers and a catcher.
Soto is entering his contract year, meaning the Yankees will likely only have him for the 2024 season, but the player will be motivated to maximize his value ahead of free agency.
Let's get into how this deal affects both teams and their World Series odds.
|New York Yankees
|San Diego Padres
Trading a superstar in his contract year is never easy for the selling team. It's rare to get players who can contribute in a big way in return for a player who will be a free agent after the season.
But the Padres did well for themselves, bringing in four right-handed pitchers - three of whom have MLB experience and all of whom are under 30 - and an experienced catcher. The pitchers are Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez, and Kyle Higashioka is the catcher.
Thorpe, a 23-year-old coming off a season in which he went 10-2 in 18 starts in the high-A division of the Minor Leagues and 4-0 in five starts in Double A, is likely the crown jewel of the deal from the Padres' perspective.
MLB's prospect rankings instantly slot Thorpe in as the sixth-best prospect in the Padres' farm system, with his arrival in the Majors projected for 2025, when he will be 25 years old.
Brito turns 26 before the 2024 season starts. He split time as a starter and reliever in his rookie campaign last year, posting a 9-7 record with a 4.28 ERA in 25 games, 13 of which were starts.
Vasquez just turned 25 and like Brito, he was a rookie in 2023. Vasquez posted a 2-2 record in 11 games, five of which were starts, and had a 2.87 ERA.
King is 28 and has five years of MLB experience. In 2023, he had a 4-8 record, starting in nine of 49 games and posting a 2.75 ERA and six saves.
Higashioka is 33 years old and has spent most of his seven-year MLB tenure as a backup catcher, never playing more than 100 games in a season.
In Soto, the Yankees have acquired one of the best young hitters baseball has ever seen.
Soto burst onto the scene in his second MLB season, when he was just 20 years old. In 2019, the Washington Nationals had just seen superstar outfielder Bryce Harper sign with their division rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, so the Nats needed some hope.
All Soto did that season was post the second-best WAR of any position player on the team and hit 34 home runs, 110 RBI, and bat .282 with a .401 on-base percentage while helping lead the Nationals to their only World Series in team history.
To build on that, he led the National League in batting average in 2020, hitting .351 in the shortened season. He led the majors in on-base percentage in both 2020 and 2021, reaching base .490 and .465 percent of the time respectively.
The Nationals traded Soto to the San Diego Padres midway through the 2022 season. The Padres reached the postseason that year, losing to the Phillies in the NLCS.
A disappointing 82-80 record in the 2023 season saw SD miss the playoffs and led them to shrink their sky-high payroll, which is why Soto is now a Yankee.
Still, of the Padres' three superstars - Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado being the other two - Soto had the best season. He batted .275 - the third-best average on the team - and he posted the following team-best numbers: a .410 on-base percentage, 35 home runs, 109 RBI, 132 walks, 295 total bases, and 97 runs.
The Yankees clearly landed a superstar. The question is how a hitting-first, defending-last trio of Soto, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton will fit into the Yankees lineup with only one designated hitter spot available.
And then there is the question worth hundreds of millions of dollars: will the Yankees be able to sign Soto to keep him beyond the 2024 season?