Looking at the Early Returns of the Juan Soto Trade for Yankees, Padres

Juan Soto returns to San Diego this weekend.
May 18, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) flips his bat after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2024; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Juan Soto (22) flips his bat after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, the New York Yankees will make their way to the West Coast to visit the San Diego Padres. The three-game series starts Friday, with both teams having spent much of the season in the second spot in their respective divisions.

The subtext to the matchup is Juan Soto — the superstar on-base machine who was traded from the Padres to the Yankees this offseason.

Let's take a look at how he's integrated in New York and how the pieces the Padres got have integrated in San Diego as well after a quick reflection on what, exactly, the deal looked like and who it included.

Stats current through games on Wednesday, May 22.

Speculation, terribly-kept secret of Juan Soto trade

At the MLB Winter Meetings in late 2023, Soto's likelihood of being traded was an open secret. Even more remarkable was that figures in the Yankees organization -- like general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone -- spoke about Soto as if it was a foregone conclusion he would wind up wearing pinstripes in 2024, even before the deal was done.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller said this, according to MLB.com's AJ Cassavell:

"We listen to anything in terms of what we need to do to get our team better," Preller said. "No real update. Nothing really new today on [the Soto] front. Still kind of going through a bunch of different paths and a bunch of different ways we can go with this as we try to build a roster and get better for next year."

Aaron Boone was coy, saying he wanted to give the baseball world, "something to talk about," but also spoke very highly about Soto the weeks leading up to the trade.

"He’s with another team, [but] it speaks for itself what a great player he is, what a great start of his career that he’s had,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on the YES Network, H/T MLB.com. “But he’s a great Padre right now, so we’ll see what happens as the week unfolds. But all I can say is, he’s a pretty special player.”

Cashman addressed Soto directly multiple times in December before the February trade and admitted that talks with the Padres during the 2023 trade deadline made for more intensified discussions during the winter.

Revisiting the trade details

What the Yankees got

The Yankees got the big piece, Juan Soto, but they also got outfielder Trent Grisham as a part of the trade, too.

What the Padres got

The Padres got a haul for Soto.

  • Pitcher Michael King
  • Pitcher Jhony Brito
  • Catcher Kyle Higashioka
  • Pitching prospect Drew Thorpe
  • Pitching prospect Randy Vasquez

Perhaps most importantly, one of the fundamental goals of moving Soto was securing financial relief from his contract, giving San Diego more flexibility to build its team moving forward. They achieved that in 2024, but also cashed in on some assets for Soto before he had the chance to walk for nothing in free agency. Soto's contract expires after the 2024 season.

How have the Padres fared in Juan Soto deal?

The Padres sit right around .500 as it stands and have by no means shaken the world. But that was, to some degree, expected after giving up an All-Star talent like Soto. The move for the Padres was a bit more about building smarter and for the future.

San Diego traded for Soto in August of 2022, and shipped him off again in less than two years. The franchise tried to create a power core of sorts with him, Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, and Fernando Tatis Jr. The stardom was never quite cohesive, with Machado's leadership coming into question at points and Preller's management style also creating some puzzled looks in San Diego. The Padres repeatedly refuted those suggestions.

For the sake of comparison, it may be worth looking at wins above replacement -- WAR -- for the pieces exchanged in the deal. Here's how that plays out for the Padres:



Michael King, P


Jhony Brito, P


Randy Vasquez, P


Kyle Higashioka, C




Michael King has started nine games to the tune of a 4.28 ERA. He's given up a league-leading 12 home runs and has a bad-looking WHIP of 1.31.

Jhony Brito, who is just 26 and sparked excitement for the future in the Bronx in 2023, has improved on his 4.28 ERA last year bringing it down to 3.96 this year. But Brito has been moved from a starting role with the Yankees to a relief role in 2024 after New York traded him last year. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has improved to 2.60 this year, but his strikeouts per nine innings are down. His WHIP sits at 1.320, a bit higher than you'd like to see.

Randy Vasquez has started five games and performed poorly. He boasts a 5.82 ERA and a WHIP of 1.754. He has struggled to make it through a full four innings in three of his five starts so far.

Kyle Higashioka is the team's backup catcher and -- to put it bluntly -- is unplayable offensively. He is slashing .150/.150/.275 for an OPS of .425 (OPS+ of a measly 22). Higashioka is a better framing catcher than the Padres starter, Luis Campusano (and about the same defensively), but it's getting increasingly tough to justify playing him with his poor batting.

Drew Thorpe was traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a deal that landed the Padres Dylan Cease, who has been phenomenal. Thorpe is dicing in the minors with a sub-1.00 WHIP and a 6-1 record, but he's only in AA and there's no telling what his timeline to the majors looks like as he tries to make it up the ranks in the White Sox system. Cease, meanwhile, is putting up a sub-1.00 WHIP in the majors this season. Worth it.

It's worth noting, Juan Soto will make $31 million this season. If you swap Cease in for the traded Thorpe, the five players the Padres added will make roughly $14.8 million combined.

How have the Yankees fared?

This trade has paid off in every way the Yankees thought it would. Let's start with Trent Grisham, who was more or less a balancing piece of the transaction.

Grisham's OPS+ is 8, which suggests 92 percent of the league is batting better than him. He has acquired just five total bases in 36 at-bats. He's gotten two hits and seven walks in 45 plate appearances. In fairness, the Yankees have a loaded outfield that makes it hard for Grisham to get regular playing time.

That's the bad. The good is Soto, as the Yankees hoped.

Firstly, Soto has been available, leading the league in plate appearances. His OPS is .979, fifth in baseball. He is slashing .313/.409/.569 and has 13 home runs already, driving in 40 run as of Thursday morning.

There have been some dead spots for Soto. In two consecutive series against the Rays and Twins in May, he only worked two walks and three hits in 28 plate appearances, with six strikeouts in that period (culminating in a .339 OPS). In six games following, though, he's worked three walks and nine hits (including a four-hit showing), still with six strikeouts (1.418 OPS).

Even at his lowest in the Bronx so far, he's been well worth the cost.

Here's how it lands in WAR:



Juan Soto


Trent Grisham




Keeping in mind the motivations for the two franchises with this trade were very different (New York wanted immediate results, San Diego wanted salary relief and player control): That puts the Yankees WAR from the trade at 2.6 higher than the Padres. Not included in the calculations is Cease, whose WAR for the Padres is 1.2, which would get the scales much closer to even.

What's left to be determined

For the Padres, the biggest questions swirl around the prospect they acquired from the Yankees. Can Randy Vasquez progress as a major leaguer, and do the Padres look to move him back to the minors for more development?

For New York, the massive question to be asked is in regards to Soto. Can New York re-sign him? Hal Steinbrenner has already thrown cold water on the finances the Yankees will have to get that done, but fans will be frustrated to hear that from one of the richest teams in baseball. There has been plenty of speculation that Soto will find his way back in the Bronx in 2025 and beyond on a new deal, but it's the biggest unknown at this point.

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Josh Wilson


Josh Wilson is the News Director of the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Before joining the SI team in 2024, Josh worked for FanSided in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Managing Editor of the brand’s flagship site. He has also served as a general manager of Sportscasting, the sports arm of a startup sports media company, where he oversaw the site’s editorial and business strategy. Josh has a Bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the State University of New York at Cortland and a Master’s degree in accountancy from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. Josh loves a good nonfiction book and enjoys learning and practicing Polish. He lives in Chicago but was raised in Upstate NY. He spent most of his life in the Northeast and briefly lived in Poland where he ate an unhealthy amount of pastries for six months.