Although most eyes are fixated on free agency, where Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto headline a fascinating class, recent trade rumblings involving the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees have the potential to disrupt the Major League Baseball offseason.

The prize of the possible blockbuster: Juan Soto.

The Padres upended their farm system to acquire Soto at the 2022 MLB trade deadline. But now, with the three-time All-Star entering the final year of his contract and San Diego mired in a financial pickle, the Friars might have no choice but to deal Soto rather than run the risk of him leaving in free agency for nothing next winter.

Enter the Yankees, a proud franchise coming off a fourth-place finish in 2023 but positioned to flex its muscle. SNY’s Andy Martino reported Wednesday, citing league sources, that talks between San Diego and New York regarding Soto have progressed to the point of exchanging names on players.

Story continues below advertisement

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

Martino made clear the teams were not close to an agreement, with the Padres’ initial asking price being very high. The exact names discussed also weren’t known, according to Martino, who noted San Diego was “said to be looking at top prospects/rookies like Jasson Domínguez and Anthony Volpe, young major league pitchers in the Michael King/Clarke Schmidt category, and more.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty subsequently added context Wednesday, offering a closer look at what the Yankees might need to give up in exchange for Soto.

Here’s what Kuty wrote:

Story continues below advertisement

A source tells The Athletic that the Yankees are reluctant to surrender upper-echelon young talent in terms of prospects (such as righty starting pitcher Drew Thorpe) or recently-arrived big-leaguers (such as Jasson Domínguez and shortstop Anthony Volpe).

San Diego is believed to be targeting starting pitching that could help in the majors as soon as next season, and the Yankees could offer righty Clarke Schmidt, who’s currently in New York’s rotation, or righties Will Warren or Chase Hampton — a pair of highly regarded prospects who could reach the majors next season.

According to Kuty, citing a league source, the Yankees remain engaged with the representatives for free agent Cody Bellinger, as well. So, there are a lot of different directions New York’s offseason could go, especially if the Bronx Bombers tap into a starting pitching market that includes Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, among others.

One complicated wrinkle to the whole Soto situation: His impending free agency after the 2024 season. Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, often advises his clients to test the open market. And Soto, entering just his age-25 season, reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals in 2022.

Story continues below advertisement

Whichever team trades for Soto therefore could do so knowing he might be just a one-year rental, a less-than-ideal scenario when talking about surrendering high-end prospect capital.

Featured image via John Jones/USA TODAY Sports Images