Hang that 2022 NLCS appearance banner, Padres fans! Because that's all you're going to have to your name in this window of San Diego baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers once again have a relatively clear path to an NL West title in 2024.
On Wednesday, the Padres relented and traded Juan Soto to the New York Yankees in the first true blockbuster of the Winter Meetings (though former Dodger Alex Verdugo also going to the Yankees in a trade with the Red Sox remains a distant second place).
After a back and forth over the last few weeks, the two sides finally came to an agreement. At first, it was said the Padres would move Soto because of their financial issues, but then others wondered if they might just wait until the deadline since they still possess a talented roster worthy of competing.
On the Yankees' side of things, general manager Brian Cashman was reportedly reluctant to include pitchers Michael King and Drew Thorpe in the deal (along with the other 4-5 names AJ Preller requested) for one year of Soto and two unhelpful years of Trent Grisham.
In the end, the Yankees' acquisition of Verdugo helped this get across the finish line. The Pads get the pitchers they so desired. Soto is a Yankee for 2024. So's Grisham. Cashman relented to a lot of stuff. Weird.
Dodgers News: Padres trade Juan Soto to Yankees in Winter Meetings blockbuster
At first, the Padres reportedly asked for Michael King, Clarke Schmidt, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vásquez, Jhony Brito and two more prospects for Soto and Grisham. The Yankees reportedly felt that was too much (and it probably was) being that they would lose 2/5 of their starting rotation, two more spot starters/multi-inning bullpen guys, and two top prospects, all for just one year of Soto (since he'll be hitting free agency, as agent Scott Boras as instructed the media to tell us).
In that scenario, the Yankees would've been addressing one problem to create another, which was a bit counterintuitive to their 2024 (and beyond) plans.
Though the Padres made out nicely here by replenishing their pitching after surrendering five top-100 prospects for Soto at the 2022 trade deadline, they're probably no longer an imminent threat to the Dodgers, having lost one of the best players of this generation. Funny enough, their problem in 2023 was run production, not pitching.
So it's back to the drawing board for Preller, who now has to make a multitude of moves to address the lineup while balancing that with a number of onerous long-term contracts. The Dodgers aren't in the best of spots, but remember folks, it can always be worse.