Recent reporting on the trade talks between the Padres and Yankees regarding superstar outfielder Juan Soto have indicated that the sides have hit an impasse in their trade discussions. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported this morning that the sides haven’t talked since San Diego requested the previously-reported multi-player package centered round right-handers Drew Thorpe and Michael King, though The Athletic’s Brandon Kuty suggests that discussions between the sides are expected to reignite during the Winter Meetings this week.
Kuty goes on to discuss the current state of discussions between the sides, with a few noteworthy updates to past reporting. While San Diego’s proposal was previously believed to be a six- or seven-player package centered around King and Thorpe plus salary relief in exchange for Soto and Trent Grisham, Kuty suggests that the Padres proposed an eight-for-two swap with right-handers Clarke Schmidt, Jhony Brito, and Randy Vasquez all included in addition to King and Thorpe. The other three players in San Diego’s proposal are not known, though Kuty suggests that top prospects Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira both are “figured to be on the table” in discussions.
The mention of Pereira as a potential piece in a Soto is especially noteworthy as past reporting has indicated that the 22-year-old has not been part of discussions between the sides. The young outfielder has emerged as a consensus top-100 prospect in the sport after slashing .300/.373/.548 in 81 games split between Double-A and Triple-A this season, though he struggled in a 27-game cup of coffee with an anemic .151/.233/.194 slash line in 103 big league plate appearances down the stretch. The inclusion of Pereira as a big-league ready outfield option could make plenty of sense for San Diego, particularly if the club parts with both Soto and Grisham in a deal.
While the specifics of reports on the Padres’ requested return package have conflicted, it’s clear that San Diego is hoping to receive a hefty return with a focus on MLB-ready pitching. What’s more, there’s a clear consensus between reports that the Yankees are particularly hesitant to include King and Thorpe in a package for Soto. Despite the gap between the sides in trade discussions, Kuty notes that restarting talks makes plenty of sense for both sides. The impetus behind a Soto deal for San Diego is the club’s desire to cut payroll, and Soto’s projected $33MM salary (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) limits the number of teams that could realistically fit a deal for Soto into their budget. Meanwhile, Kuty notes that the Yankees are facing considerable pressure to improve after missing the playoffs with an 82-80 2023 campaign.
While Kuty notes that Cody Bellinger is another star-caliber lefty outfielder who the Yankees have interest in, no outfield addition is appealing to the club as Soto. Likewise, Kuty suggests that the Blue Jays represent a potential suitor for Soto if the Padres can’t get a deal done with New York. It’s a suggestion further backed up by SNY’s Andy Martino, who describes Toronto as a “real contender” for Soto, with Heyman adding that right-hander Alek Manoah has come up in discussions between San Diego and Toronto. That said, Martino suggests that the Jays are believed to prefer to wait on a Soto deal until they know whether or not they’ll be successful in their bid for superstar slugger Shohei Ohtani.
Kuty suggests that waiting for Ohtani to make a decision could be a double-edged sword for the Padres. While another superstar-caliber left-handed slugger coming off the board could raise the pressure on interested clubs to acquire Soto, the Padres are likely to attempt to use the savings from a Soto deal to explore the free agent starting pitching market, and waiting to move Soto could leave San Diego with less options on that front. While the free agent market has largely moved slowly to this point in the offseason, the top end of the rotation market has been something of an exception to that rule with Aaron Nola and Sonny Gray having already signed on in Philadelphia and St. Louis, respectively.