Juan Soto to the Yankees? Momentum building towards trade with Padres

NASHVILLE, Tenn. − The San Diego Padres and New York Yankees are nearing a blockbuster deal that would send All-Star outfielder Juan Soto to the Bronx, and although a trade has not been finalized, two persons with direct knowledge of the talks said Wednesday there is significant momentum.

The persons spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing.

Scott Boras, Soto’s agent, said Wednesday morning that he had no doubts that Soto would thrive with the Yankees – if a trade was consummated.

“The handful of times that Juan has played at Yankee Stadium in his career,’’ Boras said, “Juan has enjoyed the experience. I think anytime you have a 1.200 or 1.300 OPS anywhere, you enjoy it.

“He does have a number of ballparks he hits well in, but Yankee Stadium is one of them. If my memory serves me correctly, it would be safe to say that it's one of his favorite ballparks to hit.

“When you're Juan Soto, you kind of show up and every ballpark’s a favorite, but I know he hits well there."

Juan Soto, who turned 25 in October, is arguably the game's greatest all-around hitter the past five years.
Juan Soto, who turned 25 in October, is arguably the game's greatest all-around hitter the past five years.

Soto has played in just seven games at Yankee Stadium in his career, but has a 1.219 OPS, hitting .261 with four homers and nine RBI in 23 at-bats, including a .393 on-base percentage and .826 slugging percentage.

It’s Soto’s offensive prowess, and left-handed bat, that has the Yankees clamoring for him, despite his projected $33 million salary and his free-agent eligibility at the end of the season. Boras declined to say whether he would entertain extension talks, but it’s highly unlikely. Soto rejected a $440 million contract two yeas ago from the Washington Nationals before being traded to the Padres.

The Yankees, who strongly balked at the Padres’ request for seven players in return for Soto on Sunday, now are starting to find middle ground, one executive involved with talks told USA TODAY Sports.

The Padres originally asked for pitchers Michael King, Clark Schmidt, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vazquez, Jhonny Brito and two prospects, while also taking on center fielder Trent Grisham and his projected $6 million salary. Grisham is no longer in the talks, and Padres no longer are insisting on including King, Schmidt and Thorpe, their prized prospects, all in the same deal.

The Padres, however, badly need pitching. They lost free agent Nick Martinez, and are not expected to bring back Cy Young winner Blake Snell and Seth Lugo, who are free agents. They also have no plans to retain free-agent closer Josh Hader.

Soto is the second-best hitter on the market behind only free agent Shohei Ohtani. He hit 35 homers with a .930 OPS last season.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the game,’’ Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters Tuesday. “He’s an impact, period. But currently, he’s an impact for somebody else.’’

That, of course, is subject to change.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yankees' Juan Soto pursuit heating up, trade with Padres in the works