The Evil Empire might be back.
After recording their lowest win total in over 30 seasons, the New York Yankees, according to multiple reports, have acquired Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres.
The 25-year-old began his career with the Washington Nationals in 2018 and quickly won a World Series the next season, but he was traded to San Diego in 2022. However, it wasn’t because of any lack of talent.
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Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres tosses his bat during the inning of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PETCO Park on August 19, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Soto had a down 2022 but showed his talent this past season by hitting .275 with 35 homers, 109 RBI, and a .930 OPS. He led the majors in walks last season (132) for the third time in his career. While that still isn’t his best work, his career numbers show that it should surprise nobody if he’s even better.
In his career, he owns a .946 OPS while hitting .284, he’s the active career leader in on-base percentage (.421), and he has four top-10 MVP finishes – he finished sixth this past season.
The Yanks are reportedly sending MLB pitcher Michael King, three pitching prospects, and catcher Kyle Higashioka – the Yankees are also said to be acquiring outfielder Trent Grisham, as San Diego moves to cut costs.
Rumors heated up Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, but finite details needed to be finished over the next several hours before all was said and done.
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Soto, a left-handed outfielder, fills a huge hole for the Yankees, who had their worst campaign since 1993 with their 82-80 record. It was the first time since 2016 they missed the postseason, as their .227 batting average was the second-worst mark in all of baseball. They also scored the sixth-least runs in the league.
While Aaron Judge missed time with injury, the Yanks were trying to fill in their outfield any way they can with no mainstays. Now, they have their every-day outfield set, as this deal comes less than 24 hours after the Yankees acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Boston Red Sox.
Soto would likely take over in right field, as the Yankees said earlier Wednesday that they would be comfortable with Judge playing center field full time with Verdugo playing left.
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Soto, a three-time All-Star, is entering the final year of arbitration and set to hit free agency after the 2024 season. Reports say he will still test the market, but it should go without saying that the Yankees will attempt to keep him for the long haul – on a deal that could exceed $500 million.