‘Get your popcorn ready’: Soto deal ignites Hot Stove

After two relatively ho-hum days at the Winter Meetings, the Yankees and Padres closed out the event with a bang, agreeing to a seven-player trade that will send superstar slugger Juan Soto to New York.

The Yankees have landed the big bat they were looking for, while the Padres have added some much-needed young arms to their rotation. A deal that made so much sense for both sides was hammered out, with one of the game’s biggest stars changing uniforms for the second time in roughly 16 months.

What does the Soto deal mean for the rest of the market? Here’s a look at some of the ripple effects from Wednesday night’s blockbuster:

What’s next for the Yankees?

Now that they have acquired their big bat in Soto, the Yankees are expected to turn their attention toward Yoshinobu Yamamoto. According to a source, the Yankees will meet with Yamamoto on Monday, making their pitch to the Japanese superstar.

Having acquired Trent Grisham along with Soto in the trade with the Padres, the Yankees are likely to start Soto in left field, Aaron Judge in center field and Alex Verdugo — who was acquired from the Red Sox in a Tuesday trade — in right field. Grisham becomes the team’s fourth outfielder, giving them a late-inning defensive replacement option.

What Soto brings to Yanks’ lineup … and Yankee Stadium
The Yankees are competing with a crowded field for Yamamoto, the 25-year-old right-hander who has won three consecutive Pacific League Most Valuable Player awards. Mets owner Steve Cohen met with Yamamoto in Japan last week, while the Giants, Dodgers and Blue Jays have been among the teams believed to be pursuing Yamamoto.

“This is going to come down to the Mets and Yankees,” one source said. “They both think they need him badly — and they do. Get your popcorn ready. This could be fun.”

What’s next for the Padres?

San Diego came into the offseason needing to replace 460 innings in the rotation from Blake Snell, Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha, all of whom are free agents.

The addition of Michael King — who posted a 2.23 ERA in nine starts after moving into a starting role in August — gives the Padres a potential No. 3-4 starter to slot behind Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, while Jhony Brito, Randy Vásquez and Drew Thorpe — who was the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect and No. 99 in the game according to MLB Pipeline — provide back of the rotation depth for 2024.

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