Sources: Yankees, Padres have had preliminary Juan Soto conversation

The Yankees have already had one preliminary conversation with the San Diego Padres this offseason about superstar outfielder Juan Soto, league sources say. Talks have not yet progressed beyond that initial check-in.

The Yankees need more offense. They need a left-handed bat. And after missing the playoffs in 2023, they could use a conversation changer. Soto would certainly check all those boxes.

Most pie-in-the-sky, star-studded trade ideas are too complex to actually happen. Fantasy rarely becomes reality. But the fact that the teams have briefly talked makes this a topic worth following, at least tangentially.

The strong expectation of rival executives is that Soto, 25 years old and entering his final season before free agency, would be available in “the right deal,” as one non-Padres and non-Yankees exec put it. That means that San Diego is not actively shopping Soto, but is not ruling out a move, either.

Asked by San Diego reporters earlier this month about Soto’s future, Padres general manager A.J. Preller said that his “first path” would be to extend Soto. Asked about trading him, Preller said, “We've never been a group that says no to anything. I wouldn't read into that. That's just kind of the way we operate.”

In the recent past, the Yankees have been reluctant to give up high-end prospects or young players with years of team control, even in exchange for superstar rentals.

For a few reasons, this situation could be different. One, Soto is projected to make more than $30 million in his final year of salary arbitration, a number that will limit his trade market. Two, the Padres cannot reasonably expect a significant haul for one year of any player.

The most obvious recent comparison is the 2020 Mookie Betts trade, in which Boston acquired the free-agent-to-be superstar for outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong. Boston also sent veteran David Price to Los Angeles for salary relief.

It is almost impossible to imagine the Yankees swapping Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez for one year of any player. But the team does have high-end prospects and rookie depth in Austin Wells, Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira. The Yanks like all of those players, but would obviously have to trade someone of value for Soto.

One rival official unaffiliated with the Yankees and Padres also wondered if the Yankees could include a veteran like first baseman Anthony Rizzo in a Soto deal, because the Padres are not rebuilding.

Rizzo has a year remaining on his contact, then a club option for 2025. He has a limited no-trade clause; the teams are not known.