The New York Yankees finished the 2023 season as one of baseball's most disappointing teams, putting up a record of 82-80. New York not only missed the playoffs, but they finished with their worst record since 1995. Yes, nearly 30 years.
As a response to this horrific season, Yankees fans are clamoring for big changes this offseason. Players like Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Cody Bellinger are high up on fan free agent wishlists, but Yankees fans also have their eyes set on a prime trade candidate: Juan Soto.
The Yankees and Padres have reportedly been talking and have exchanged names. According to Brandon Kudy of The Athletic (subscription required), the Yankees are reluctant to part with some of their young guys. Sure, holding onto Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez makes sense, but New York is also reportedly reluctant to include pitching prospect Drew Thorpe in the deal. Really? Do they even want Soto?
NY Yankees have laughable holdup in Juan Soto trade talks
The Yankees being hesitant to include blue-chip prospects like Volpe and Dominguez makes sense when Soto -- a free agent after the 2024 season -- is a one-year rental with virtually no chance of extending, but why exactly is Thorpe a piece New York is holding this deal up for?
Of course, he's a solid prospect. He's the Yankees' fifth-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and the 99th-ranked prospect overall. He had a really strong season in 2023, posting a 2.52 ERA in 23 starts and making it up to Double-A for his final five starts of the year. Normally for a rental, I'd understand holding Thorpe at all costs. But this is Juan Soto we're talking about here.
Soto is coming off a bit of a down year for his standards in which he hit 35 home runs, had a .410 OBP, and a .930 OPS. He finished sixth in the NL MVP balloting, won a Silver Slugger, and was an all-star. This is a player with a career OPS of .946 through his first six seasons. For a team that finished 25th in baseball last season in runs scored behind awful teams like the Royals, Pirates, and Nationals, you'd think Brian Cashman would be doing anything he can to get a player like this.
The Yankees are an organization with a ton of pitching prospects. Guys like Chase Hampton, Will Warren, Randy Vasquez, and Clayton Beeter are all arms to be excited about. That's in addition to the rotation they have right now which has one of, if not the best pitcher in the game in Gerrit Cole, alongside arms like Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes Jr., Michael King, and Clarke Schmidt. There's a good chance a guy like Schmidt is involved, but the Yankees could easily sign someone to take his spot.
Thorpe can be good in the future, there's no denying that. But he's made five starts in AA and there's a good chance he won't even make his MLB debut until next season. If the Yankees are a team trying to win now, they have to start acting like it. You have to give something to get something. Just be thankful it's Thorpe and not something that'll hurt more.