Monday, February 26, 2024

MLB rumors: Yankees talking specifics on potential Juan Soto trade, Bo Bichette speculation shot down by Jays

As we work our way toward the MLB Winter Meetings – Major League Baseball’s flagship offseason event – rumors of free agent signings and blockbuster trades are in abundance. Wednesday is no exception, so let’s dive in right now to what’s buzzing around the sport. 

Yankees talking specifics in potential Soto deal

The Yankees appear to be prioritizing improving a lineup that was sorely lacking this past season outside of Aaron Judge, and more specifically GM Brian Cashman has indicated he wants to add multiple outfielders to the mix for 2024 and beyond. All of that is prelude to the ongoing and quite credible rumors that the Yankees are targeting Padres batsman Juan Soto in trade. 

On that front, SNY’s Andy Martino has an update on where things stand

“Talks between the Yankees and the San Diego Padres about a Juan Soto trade have progressed to the point of exchanging names on players, league sources say. San Diego’s initial ask was very high — understandably so — and the teams are not close to an agreement.”

Getting to the kicking-around-specific-names stage certainly indicates momentum, but the “not close” part is important, too, and duly noted. 

As for fit, Soto is an ideal one for the flagging Yankees offense. The 25-year-old lefty masher is one of the best pure hitters in baseball thanks to his elite combination of power and patience/on-base skills. In an ideal world, he’d be a DH, but the Yankees of course have Giancarlo Stanton as the primary in that role. The Padres are believed to be looking to cut payroll this offseason, and Soto is probably in line for a salary in excess of $30 million in his final trip through the arbitration process. That salary commitment plus the fact that 2024 will be Soto’s walk year means the cost in trade would be notable but likely not entirely prohibitive. 

In an offseason in which Shohei Ohtani is a free agent, nothing will challenge his capacity to draw headlines, but a potential Yankees trade for the likes of Soto would come closer than any other plausible thing. 

Jays GM bats down Bichette rumors

We recently explored the hypotheticals of a Bo Bichette trade while noting that such a thing was unlikely to come to pass. The 25-year-old Bichette is a capable defensive shortstop who consistently puts up excellent numbers at the plate, and he’s under contract at modest rates through 2025. Needless to say, such a profile would exact a tremendous return in trade. The Blue Jays, however, are presumably in contending mode, and no contender should have any business trading a player like Bichette. Sure enough, Jays GM Ross Atkins is saying there’s nothing to the speculation: 

In the offseason, situations are always fluid, which means even the firmest of declarations can be undermined, but the Jays certainly seem to have no intention of dealing their best player. Given their present aspirations, that’s as it should be. 

Reds ink Pagán

The Reds have agreed to a two-year contract with right-handed reliever Emilio Pagán, Mark Feinsand reports. Feinsand adds that the deal is pending a physical. Pagán, 32, is coming off a 2023 season for the Twins in which he pitched to a 2.99 ERA and 3.10 K/BB ratio in 69 1/3 innings. For his career, he owns an ERA+ of 112 across parts of seven MLB seasons. In 2019, he picked up 20 saves as a member of the Rays. 

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