The New York Yankees are making the first big splash of the MLB offseason by trading for San Diego Padres LF Juan Soto in a blockbuster deal including P Michael King and a handful of players/prospects. Here’s the full deal as reported by Jon Morosi, plus confirmation from Jack Curry and Joel Sherman.
Juan Soto trade agreement is being finalized now, source confirms.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 6, 2023
The deal, as @JackCurryYES and @Joelsherman1 reported, sends Soto and Trent Grisham to New York for Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and Kyle Higashioka. @MLB @MLBNetwork
This move seemed inevitable since the offseason began as the Yankees had a massive need for a left fielder. Adding Soto gives the Yankees at least a short-term option for the 2024 MLB season and the potential to strike a long-term deal if all goes well. The Yanks are also getting OF Trent Grisham as part of the deal, adding even more outfield depth after acquiring OF Alex Verdugo from the Red Sox.
Now that GM Brian Cashman has added another MVP-caliber bat to the Yankees’ lineup to pair with OF Aaron Judge, what’s the next move? We’ll take a look at what New York should prioritize the rest of the offseason.
What should Yankees do next this offseason?
The Japanese starting pitcher should be the next move for Cashman and the Bronx Bombers, especially after the team had to give up King in the Soto deal. New York also had to give up pitching prospect Drew Thorpe as part of the trade. So starting pitching should be the priority here. Yamamoto is reportedly set to meet with the Yankees on Monday in the U.S. and the team is viewed as the top candidate to land the 25-year-old phenom. If the Yankees can add Yamamoto, it eases the blow of losing King, who looked like a solid rotation arm late in 2023 after being moved from the bullpen. If Carlos Rodon can bounce back, the Yankees would have four solid starters with reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, Yamamoto, Rodon and lefty Nestor Cortes.
If the Yankees don’t land Yamamoto, they’d likely need to add another starting arm to the rotation. Some free agent names include former Yankees SP Jordan Montgomery, who is fresh off helping the Rangers win the World Series. Eduardo Rodriguez, Marcus Stroman and Lucas Giolito could also be targeted.
The Yankees could use some help in the infield, specifically at third base. Josh Donaldson is finally gone after being a void at the position the past few seasons. The Yankees still have veteran INF DJ LeMahieu, but he has major injury concerns and likely won’t be able to play a full season at third. So we could see the Yankees go out and sign a free agent or make another trade. 3B Matt Chapman is the top free agent at the position currently. Chapman is 30 years old and strikes out a lot but is also a four-time Gold Glove winner. Chapman also has good pop with at least 24 HRs in four of seven MLB seasons. He could cost a bit more than the Yankees would like but if Soto and Yamamoto are being brought in, clearly the team isn’t as worried about payroll if it means getting back to the World Series for the first time in 15 seasons.
Jeimer Candelario is another free agent option if the Yankees want to spend less. Candelario is also up there in age (30) and isn’t as good defensively as Chapman. But Candelario makes a bit more sense for the best-end of the lineup as someone who should strike out less frequently. He’s also coming off a career-high 22 HRs and 70 RBI between time with the Cubs and Nationals in 2023.
The other route is for the Yankees to make another trade for a third baseman. The Tampa Bay Rays are doing that thing where they trade off all their assets to rebuild. 3B Isaac Paredes could be an appealing target if the Rays are OK making a deal with their AL East rivals. The Yankees did just make a deal for Verdugo with the Boston Red Sox, so it’s not a crazy thought.
Paredes may cost a decent haul of prospects but would be a good get long-term. He’s arbitration eligible in 2024 and wouldn’t hit the open market until 2028. In just his second full MLB season, Paredes hit a career-high 31 HRs with 98 RBI, posting a .840 OPS in 571 plate appearances. At 24 years old, Paredes could be entering his prime and he’s also versatile, being able to play multiple positions in the infield. Considering the Yankees have LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres in the infield, Paredes could project as a future 2B or 1B.