When Opening Day rolls around for the 2024 MLB regular season, will outfielder Juan Soto be suiting up for the San Diego Padres? Or, will he be playing for a new squad in his final year before hitting free agency?
One would imagine the chances of him staying in San Diego are decent considering the Padres' desire to compete. But even if that does happen, it won't be without plenty of rumors flying around about teams trying to pry him from San Diego's hands.
Similar to certain free agents who are currently available, every team in baseball wants a player of Soto's caliber on their roster. He just turned 25 years old and is already one of the game's best hitters. The outfielder is also fresh off a campaign in which he slashed .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs and 109 RBI. Soto was selected to the All-Star Game, won a Silver Slugger Award, and finished sixth in NL MVP Award voting.
While every team wants a player like him, only a small handful would be willing to pay the price to do so. It'll take a significant package of players to convince the Padres to strike a deal. And it won't be cheap to sign him to a long-term deal so he can stick around for more than just one year.
So, who exactly is hot on Soto's tail right now? It seems like the New York Yankees are the best fit, and that could be his most likely destination. But according to MLB insider Hector Gomez, the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants are also involved.
SOURCE: A person very close to Juan Soto just told me that although the #Yankees have a very good chance of getting him, he believes that Soto has a better chance of staying with the #Padres in the 2024 season than of being traded.
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) November 27, 2023
Aaron Judge was dominant when on the field this past year, but he needs a little support in the middle of the Yankees' lineup. And since Soto is a left-handed power hitter, he'd fit in quite nicely at Yankee Stadium with the famous short porch in right field.
Across town, the Mets are another team in need of more power in their lineup. Pete Alonso was among the league leaders in home runs and Francisco Lindor posted a 30-30 season, but another proven power bat in the middle of that order is necessary. Plus, ESPN's Jeff Passan said earlier this offseason that New York is a "scary possibility" to land the outfielder.
As for the Giants, they've been in search of a franchise player on offense for years. Efforts to do so last year by pursuing Judge and Carlos Correa didn't work out. Now that Bob Melvin is San Francisco's new manager, though, there's a level of comfort and familiarity there for Soto despite never playing for the organization before.
These three teams are surely not the only ones involved in Soto trade talks. But, they could very well be the most aggressive and most likely landing spots should the outfielder actually get dealt.
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