Division rival swipes Juan Soto out of Blue Jays' grasp in blockbuster trade

Juan Soto is on the move, but not to Toronto.

Sep 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) watches his
Sep 30, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Juan Soto (22) watches his / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Ross Atkins and the Toronto Blue Jays' front office have promised to swing a big stick this offseason. So far, the club has been "in on" a ton of different players, ranging from Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto, to Isaac Paredes and Tony Kemp.

Ohtani and Soto are the two most prized possessions on the market(s) this winter, and both have been connected to the Blue Jays in recent days. All along, Ohtani has felt more likely to come north of the border than Soto has. On Wednesday, the New York Yankees struck and just like that; Soto is off the board.

In a huge trade between the Yankees and Padres, Soto and fellow outfielder Trent Grisham were shipped to the Bronx in exchange for three pitching prospects, Michael King and catcher Kyle Higashioka.

Now the Soto Saga is over for the Blue Jays. It remains to be seen how close they ever truly were in the sweepstakes, but it's bittersweet to see him land on a division rival. He will now join an already star-studded outfield consisting of Aaron Judge and Alex Verdugo; not to mention the always-dangerous Giancarlo Stanton, who is practically a permanent DH at this point.

Even after landing Soto, the Yankees still don't feel like a team that's ready to contend for a championship. The club's lineup is stacked from top to bottom, but the loss of King only further highlights the team's lack of solid pitching. With King moving on, Roster Resource has Clayton Beeter, a 25-year-old prospect who still hasn't made his big league debut, as the Yankees' no. 5 starter in 2024.

Last year, the MVP-caliber talent played in all 162 games for the first time in his six-year career. Along the way, he hit 35 home runs with 109 RBI, an MLB-leading 132 walks and a 158 OPS+. He remains one of the very best hitters in the game and is 100 percent going to be a thorn in the Blue Jays' side throughout the upcoming season.

Making matters just a little bit better is the fact that Soto is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2024 campaign. Should he make it that far without being extended by the Yankees, he'll immediately become one of the most sought-after free agents in recent memory.

Speaking of free agents who are highly sought-after, the Blue Jays need to take the news of Yankees-Soto and improve their offer to Ohtani and his representatives. There is no better way to answer this major move by the Yankees than one of the Jays' own.

Chatter around the industry suggests that the Dodgers and Blue Jays are the two finalists for Ohtani's services. Conflicting reports have been coming out regarding when he'll make his final decision, but the Jays need to make every effort they can to land him in response to New York's move on Soto.