A glimpse at who the Padres acquired in the Juan Soto deal.
It’s official, folks: the trade involving the San Diego Padres sending MLB All-Star and probable future hall-of-famer Juan Soto to the New York Yankees, along with Gold Glove-winning centerfielder Trent Grisham in exchange for Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and Kyle Higashioka is now complete.
The Trade of Soto is an understandably somber and deflating moment for many Padres fans.
It’s rare that a team possesses a generational player such as Soto and deals them away. But that is the reality that Padres fans now find themselves in.
However, now that the dust is starting to settle, it’s time to look at what the Padres got in return from the Yankees. Specifically, let’s take a look at the four new arms the Padres acquired in: King, Thorpe, Brito, and Vasquez.
What value do they add? What are their strengths? What are their inefficiencies?
And what role might they play in the 2024 Padres season?
Let’s take a deeper look.
The 28-year-old former 12th-round pick from Boston College is viewed as the “centerpiece” of the Juan Soto package. Used out of the bullpen for the first half of the 2023 season, King made the jump to the Yankees starting rotation after the All-Star break.
In his nine starts after the All-Star break, King tossed 56 innings, posted an impressive 2.73 ERA, and put up a BB% of 5.5 with a K% of 31.3% while ranking in the 80th percentile or better in pitching run value, K%, average exit velocity, hard hit%, and xERA according to Baseball Savant. As well, in his time as a starter, King posted a 113 Stuff+.
King is a sinker, sweeper, fastball, and changeup pitcher who favors his sinker and sweeper most—throwing them each at 33.5% & 29.3%, respectively. While it is a small sample size, in King’s time as a starter, all of his numbers and peripherals showed him to have the makeup of a top-end rotation starter. However, some concerns come with King.
The first is the small sample size. Banking on a player due to a nine-game window and less than 120 Innings pitched is bold. Furthermore, if we look at all 19 of his starts over the course of 4+ years, King has an ERA of 4.33 as a starter. Some may find that concerning for a 28-year-old “centerpiece” with only two years of team control.
But undoubtedly, the most significant concern tied to King at the moment is his injury history and the health of his arm. In 2022, King needed surgery for a fractured olecranon crow, putting him on the IL for the rest of the season. There are still possibly lingering concerns regarding his arm/UCL health.
Thorpe, a 22-year-old former second-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, is the No.5 ranked prospect in the Yankees farm system, according to MLB.com. A consensus All-American At Cal Poly, Thorpe set a school record and ranked second in the nation in strikeouts with 149 in 104 innings.
In 140 Innings, across both Single-A & Double-A, Thorpe posted a 2.52 ERA and an 11.9 K/9. However, Thrope’s most promising play came in his final starts of the season at the Double-A Level. Through those five starts, about 31 total innings, the 6-foot-4, 212 lbs right-hander posted a 1.48 ERA, 1.82 xFIP, 40% K rate to a 4.5% walk rate, and a 0.66 WHIP.
Thorpe is a three-pitch pitcher throwing a fastball, slider, and changeup, with the cambio being his best of the bunch. His put-away pitch, the changeup, grades out at 65/80, according to MLB.com. It’s not as good as Padres farmhand Dylan Lesko’s, but it’s near that tier of dominance.
The concern/downside for Thorpe would have to be with his fastball.
Despite that 6-foot-4, 212 lbs frame, Thorpe’s fastball only sits at about 91-93 mph. That’s not to say that Thorpe can’t or would be ineffective at the big league level, but it would certainly make it more challenging.
Unlike King or Thorpe, Brito does not profile as a top-end starter or have some sort of prospect pedigree. The 25-year-old 6-foot-2, 210 lbs pitcher is looked at as a young depth arm for the Padres.
In 90.1 innings pitched in 2023, Brito recorded decent numbers, posting a 4.28 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while posting a GB rate and hard-hit rate in the 63rd Percentile or better, according to Baseball Savant. Brito is also a five-pitch pitcher with a pitch mix of a sinker, changeup, curveball, fastball, and slider.
The pitch that will perhaps pop most on the screen will be that of his sinker/fastball, which ranked in the 83rd percentile among pitches in 2023, and sat at a constant 96 mph, and topped out at about 97-98 mph.
Brito is someone who could function in a role similar to Nick Martinez; as for the Yankees, he made appearances both starting and in more extended middle relief showings, such as he did on September 2 vs. the Astros, where he went 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and zero runs.
Brito, however, has a multitude of areas to improve on. His K rate, barrel rate, and wiff % all rank in the 29th percentile or lower. When it comes to his pitch mix, while he does throw five pitches, he relies mainly on his sinker and changeup. His slider has shown promise; perhaps bullpen sessions with Niebla could make it a more viable third pitch.
Vasquez is 25 years old and the Yankees’ No.13 overall prospect, according to MLB.com. While some may view him as a “throw-in,” Vasquez is an arm that has shown signs of being able to contribute on the back end of a rotation. In minimal action of just 37.2 innings, Vasquez pitched to a 2.87 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.
Much like Brito, he is a five to six-pitch pitcher throwing a fastball, sweeper, cutter, sinker, curveball, and changeup. Again, much like Brito, the pitch that will jump out at you is the fastball that can run to 96 mph, but it’s on avg. Sits at around 94 mph.
Nothing in his arsenal at the moment will really wow you.
While it was a small sample size, Vasquez did a good job of missing barrels. The average exit velocity against him was 86.9, with a barrel rate of 6.4%. While Vasquez has shown the ability to miss the barrel, there is a lot of ugly that goes with it. An xERA of 5.37, a whiff rate of just 17.9%, a xBA of .267, and a K Rate of 19.9% leaves much to be desired.
I’m a proud San Diegan by birth and have lived here in San Diego for most of my life. For college I attended Sonoma State University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in communications; following my graduation, I returned home to San Diego, where I have worked in the local San Diego media sports scene since 2020.