Are the Blue Jays taking advantage of the Yankees in Juan Soto trade chase?

Someone is certainly trying to drive the price up for Juan Soto this offseason...and it may be the Blue Jays.

Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) points to
Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) points to / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves right in the middle of some of the biggest rumors this offseason. While most outside observers thought that the chase for Shohei Ohtani was going to be a battle of deep-pocketed teams on the west coast like the Dodgers, Angels, and Giants with a healthy sprinkling of Yankees and Red Sox chatter as well. However, the Blue Jays have inserted themselves in Ohtani's market in a big way and now are firmly in the running to sign him. However, Ohtani isn't the only big name that the Blue Jays are connected to as the current scuttlebutt is that Toronto is pushing hard to trade for Juan Soto.

In a vacuum, the Blue Jays being interested in Soto makes sense. He would be an immediate upgrade in the outfield (that's true of basically every team, though) and Toronto has the type of young core where a bat like Soto's could very well be the move that puts them over the top. However, with the Blue Jays' pursuit of Ohtani and the amount of 2024 money and prospects that it would take for such a deal to happen, something doesn't smell right.

Things got more interesting on Saturday evening when a report came out from reporter Hector Gomez that not only were the Blue Jays pursuing Soto, but they were the current favorites. It is the timing of this report that is particularly interesting.

Juan Soto-to-Toronto trade rumors are a reminder to take rumors with a grain of salt

To the untrained eye, such a report doesn't seem out of place during the offseason. One team goes after a guy and then another team ups their offer and soon we have a good ol' fashioned bidding war. However, it does not seem like a coincidence at all that this report comes out today when just yesterday, the word was that the Yankees were balking at San Diego's asking price for Soto.

A Juan Soto trade is already kind of a tough sell for the vast majority of the league. He is one of the best hitters in baseball...that is not up for debate. However, he is also entering his last year of team control, is 99% to not sign an extension with Scott Boras as his agent, and is going to get $30+ million from arbitration in 2024. There are not a lot of teams that have deep enough farm systems to give San Diego what they want in return for a very expensive rental no matter how good they are.

All of this seems like there is some nonsense afoot. If the reports about the Yankees not wanting to part with the prospects that the Padres are targeting from them for Soto are true, the Padres would certainly be incentivized to get some media reports out there about an AL East division rival getting involved to get New York to be a bit more desperate and compliant.

However, another even juicer alternate explanation is that the Blue Jays themselves are getting this word out there. Not only does it get Blue Jays fans excited which is good for a few brownie points, but Toronto probably doesn't hate the idea of making the market more competitive for the Yankees and making them have to pay up to land one of the best young players in the league.

So could the the Blue Jays ultimately land Soto with a package that would probably be headlined by Ricky Tiedemann? It is theoretically possible, but it is probably best to take the Soto rumors with a healthy grain of salt.

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