San Diego Padres Trade Juan Soto To New York Yankees

by Josh Stevens

The New York Yankees have acquired Juan Soto in a trade with the San Diego Padres. How will this impact the upcoming Fantasy Baseball and MLB season?

In exchange for one of the games best hitters (and Trent Grisham), the Yankees will send the following players to the Padres - Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez and Kyle Higashioka.

For just a young, 25-year-old, Juan Soto has already had an absolute whirlwind of a career.

San Diego Padres Trade Juan Soto To New York Yankees

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Rise to Stardom

2018 saw a 19-year-old Soto, then with the Nationals, hit .292 with 22 homers and an OBP of .406 en route to finishing second in NL ROTY voting behind fellow superstar Ronald Acuńa Jr. Instantly, it was clear that we had a superstar on our hands.

2019 was another huge step for Soto, belting 34 homers, an OBP north of .400 again, and an OPS of .949. With 108 walks to 132 strikeouts, Soto’s first full season in the big leagues would be the last time striking out more than walking.

More impressive than the regular season stats was Soto’s extraordinary playoff performance.

The 2019 postseason experience for Soto opened with a go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth inning off of Josh Hader, arguably the best reliever in baseball, to win the Wild Card game.

Not to be outdone, Soto put on a monster performance in the World Series, leading the Nationals to glory with a .333 batting average, an OPS of 1.178, and three homers, including a ball sent into the stratosphere off of Justin Verlander. All of this was accomplished before turning 21.

Over the next couple of years, Soto cemented his spot as one of, if not the best hitters in the game. While it’s the power that everyone comes to see, it’s the discipline that makes Soto as good as he is.

From 2020-2021, Soto walked 186 times and only struck out 121 times. This, along with 30+ homers a year and a .300+ average, propelled Soto to two consecutive top-five MVP finishes. He likely would have won MVP with a fully healthy year in 2020 and just missed out on the award in 2021.

Troubles in Washington

However, Soto ran into troubles in 2022. There was nobody else to pitch around in the Nationals’ lineup, so Soto rarely got any pitches to hit. This led to a lot of rare chases by Soto, and he struggled to a .246 average across 100 games in Washington.

Then came the trade to San Diego. Top prospects CJ Abrams and MacKenzie Gore were sent back to Washington for Soto, who looked to bolster an already potent Padres lineup.

However, Soto struggled again, to the tune of a .236 average and only six homers in 52 games with the Padres. Sometimes, a player can initially struggle in a new scene, and Soto was expected to bounce back in 2023.

A slow April for Soto (.203 average) was an extremely concerning start to kick off 2023. However, he put those concerns to rest with a very solid rest of the year, where he hit .275 with 35 homers and an OBP of .410.

However, this came on yet another disappointing Padres team, who hadn’t done much with a core of superstars.

The Padres decided to not pay Soto his enormous contract and sent him to a team that surely will have no issues with paying him: the New York Yankees (cue the collective groan from the fans of the 29 other teams).

Yankees Acquire Juan Soto

This is an absolutely fantastic fit for Soto. The right field fence for the Yankees is about seven and a half feet from home plate, which extremely benefits his pull-happy swing.

This is a stark contrast from Soto’s days in San Diego, home to the second-worst park factor for left-handed hitters. In the Bronx, Soto’s power numbers are sure to go up.

However, Yankee Stadium is also notorious for limiting doubles, as the center field plays very deep. As a fantasy manager, you should be perfectly fine trading in some doubles for a few extra homers.

Check out Corey's initial reaction to the Braves/Mariners Kelenic trade!

How Will the Trade Affect Soto and his new Teammates?

Soto’s spot in the lineup should also benefit him as well. As it stands, the top four of the lineup is projected to be

  1. DJ LeMahieu
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Aaron Judge
  4. Giancarlo Stanton.

For the five games, these guys will be healthy together, that’s top of the order that benefits everyone.

First, we’ll evaluate Soto’s impact. In Washington, teams would pitch around him. However, with Aaron Judge looming in the wings, teams would be forced to pitch to Soto.

While this sounds like it could decrease his walk numbers, Soto’s plate discipline is so advanced that I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

However, the guy who may benefit the most from this trade is Aaron Judge. After hitting 62 homers in 2022, Judge was on his way to a similar performance in 2023 before getting hurt.

Now, Judge will have the perennial OBP leader in front of him, leading to so many more RBI opportunities.

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Where to Draft Soto in Fantasy?

In batting average leagues, I would put Soto in the first/second round turn, as his average now seems to settle around the .280 mark.

However, in OBP leagues, Soto is arguably a top-five pick. Soto dominates the OBP category, and will now get more pitches to hit in a more hitter-friendly park. This trade can only lead to good things for the 25-year-old slugger.


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