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by: Victor Suarez

For months, the Yankees dreamt of Juan Soto in pinstripes, picturing the world’s most prolific slugger launching bombs towards the inviting right-field porch. That dream is now reality.

Soto is officially a Bronx Bomber, acquired from the Padres in a blockbuster seven-player trade that stole the show at the Winter Meetings. The 25-year-old arrives alongside outfielder Trent Grisham, while five Yankees depart: pitchers Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez, and catcher Kyle Higashioka.

Soto, a three-time All-Star, led MLB in walks (132) and finished sixth in the NL MVP race with 35 home runs and 109 RBIs in 2023. Yankees manager Aaron Boone called him “as good an offensive player as there is,” praising his “on-base, power, and what he’s accomplished at a young age.”

This trade could be transformative for the Yankees, who finished 82-80 and missed the playoffs in 2023. “He’s been one of the rock-solid performers in the sport on offense,” Boone said.

Yankees Go All-In, Padres Shed Salary

The Yankees came to the Winter Meetings desperate to reassert their dominance. They left 72 hours later having landed Soto and Grisham, proving money isn’t an object when it comes to winning.

The price was steep, but with 10 teams interested, the Yankees couldn’t afford to miss out on Soto. “He’s a transformational bat,” said GM Brian Cashman.

After weeks of speculation, the deal is done. Soto is in the Bronx, paired with Grisham while the Padres add arms and shed payroll. Padres GM A.J. Preller called it “everything we wanted,” while Cashman labeled Soto “a disaster averter.”

Boone praised Soto’s offensive prowess and durability, calling him “a machine offensively” and “a central figure on a world championship team.”

Soto’s Left-Handed Power Meets Yankee Stadium

Already on a Hall of Fame trajectory, Soto boasts a career .284/.421/.524 average with 160 homers. His left-handed swing should be a perfect fit in Yankee Stadium, where he’s already hit four homers in seven games.

“Anytime you have a 1.200 or 1.300 OPS anywhere, you enjoy it,” said Soto’s agent, Scott Boras. “He hits well there.”

Staying healthy hasn’t been a problem for Soto, averaging 155 games played the past three years. He’s also a poor defender, but right field at Yankee Stadium seems like a natural fit.

Grisham, a 27-year-old lefty hitter with below-average offensive numbers the past two years, can also play center field. His pop (30 homers in 2023) could make for a strong platoon with Verdugo.

The Price: Young Arms and a Veteran Catcher

King, the desired right-hander who dominated as a starter late in 2023, is the Padres’ biggest prize. Thorpe, the Yankees’ fifth-best prospect, Brito, Vásquez, and Higashioka complete the package.

Trading King was a tough call, but Cashman said “there’d be very few untouchables” after a disappointing season. He also praised Thorpe’s “great changeup” and pitchability.

Brito and Vásquez, both 25, saw major league action in 2023 due to injuries, while Higashioka, the Yankees’ longest-tenured player, was a career backup catcher.

The Bombers face stiff competition, but they’re scheduled to meet with him next week.

“He’s gonna be a really successful pitcher anywhere,” said Cashman. “He’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The Yankees landed their dream player in Juan Soto, but their quest for a championship continues.

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