San Diego Padres trade All-Star Juan Soto to Yankees in 7-player deal

Dec 6, 2023, 9:57 PM

Juan Soto...

Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres flys out as Gabriel Moreno #14 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the fifth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 03, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Yankees acquired All-Star slugger Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade with the cost-cutting San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.

San Diego received right-handed pitchers Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez and Drew Thorpe along with catcher Kyle Higashioka. In addition to Soto, the Yankees get Gold Glove center fielder Trent Grisham.

Both teams announced the trade late Wednesday night.

It’s the second blockbuster deal involving the 25-year-old Soto in less than two years. The three-time All-Star has one season of team control left and is likely to get a salary around $32 million after batting .275 with 35 homers, 109 RBIs and a .930 OPS in his only full season with the Padres.

San Diego acquired Soto from Washington on Aug. 2, 2022, after he turned down a $440 million, 15-year offer from the Nationals.

Soto joins a Yankees outfield that projects to have fellow All-Star Aaron Judge in center and newly acquired Alex Verdugo in the other corner. Soto, like Verdugo, adds a left-handed bat to a lineup that was righty heavy for several seasons. Yankees lefties had 55 homers and 171 RBIs last year while righties had 164 homers and 479 RBIs. New York missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The trade comes amid reports the Padres are slashing their payroll by as much as $50 million after flopping last season and missing the playoffs despite World Series aspirations. The Padres also have a desperate need for starting pitching after NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo became free agents.

Soto’s relatively young age at free agency will be comparable to that of fellow Scott Boras client Bryce Harper, who was 26 when he signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with Philadelphia ahead of the 2019 season. In six major league seasons, Soto has a .284 batting average with 160 homers, 483 RBIs and a .946 OPS. He won a World Series title with Washington in 2019.

The Padres said the deal with the Nationals was worth it because they’d have Soto for three playoff runs. Soto helped them reach the NL Championship Series in 2022, but the Padres underwhelmed last season despite also having stars Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts in the lineup.

There have been reports the Padres tried to sign Soto to an extension, but Boras generally likes to have his star clients hit the free-agent market.

King, a 28-year-old right-hander, averages 94-96 mph with his fastball and had a 2.75 ERA last season while going 4-8 in nine starts and 40 relief appearances. He struck out 127 and walked 32 in 104 2/3 innings, excelling after moving from the bullpen into the rotation on Aug. 24.

King can become a free agent after the 2025 season.

The 23-year-old Thorpe, a 6-foot-4 left-hander selected in the second round of the 2022 amateur draft, was 14-2 with a 2.52 ERA at Class A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset last season. He struck out 182 and walked 38 in 139 1/3 innings.

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