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X-Factor Yankees “Middleman” Played Unexpected Catalyst for Juan Soto Mega-Deal

Mohsin Baldiwala

X-Factor Yankees "Middleman" Played Unexpected Catalyst for Juan Soto Mega-Deal

In early 2023, the Yankees hired a senior advisor to baseball operations, Omar Minaya. The 64-year-old came with a rather impressive resume and had prior experience with the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, and San Diego Padres. However, it wasn’t until the Yankees dove into the deep end of the Juan Soto trade talks that they truly experienced the “Minaya Magic.”

The seeds of this blockbuster deal were planted years ago when Minaya, then the assistant general manager with the Mets, met a young intern named A.J. Preller. Minaya and Preller bonded instantly and found a common love for scouting players alongside their New York City roots. This connection grew stronger over the years, with Minaya eventually working under Preller when he became the general manager of the Padres in August 2014. This bond ended up playing catalyst when the Yanks felt a glaring void in their outfield, compounded by their sleeping offense in the absence of Aaron Judge.

The pursuit of Juan Soto, while in the rumor mill for months, officially kicked off for the Yankees at the GM Meetings in Arizona. It was here that Brian Cashman and A.J. Preller began discussing a potential trade. Omar Minaya was designated by GM Cashman to initiate conversations, leveraging his relationship with Preller to set the tone for negotiations. The Yankees needed to add more power to their outfield with The Martian, Jasson Dominguez’s injury and the Padres were desperate for pitching.

Minaya’s had a straightforward task: make it known which players were completely off the table: Jasson Domínguez and Spencer Jones. Preller, understanding the Yankees’ position, began to narrow down his choices. The Padres had given up a significant package to acquire Soto from the Nationals in 2022, so they required quality and most importantly, quantity in return. Minaya recognized that the Yankees would need to offer a substantial package, including Michael King, who had only recently made a successful transition into the rotation.

The executives met again during Thanksgiving weekend in New York to solidify their plans before the Winter Meetings. “It was old school,” Minaya said. “This thing was not done via text. It was done verbally [in-person] or by phone.”

By Winter Meetings, the framework of the deal was nearly complete. The Yankees were ready and expected the trade to happen at any point. On December 6th, shortly after the delegations left Nashville, the trade was finalized.

Juan Soto’s impact on the Yankees

Since joining the Yankees, Juan Soto has practically transformed the Yankees’ offense and has been instrumental in transforming them into a first-place team after missing the playoffs last season. His statistics are impressive, to say the least: 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, and a .315/.413/.581 slash line.

While Soto’s future with the Yankees beyond this season remains extremely uncertain, both the Yankees and the player have expressed willingness for in-season contract negotiations. However, Scott Boras clients like Soto typically test the free-agent market.

Post Edited By:Shraman Mitra

About the author

Mohsin Baldiwala

Mohsin Baldiwala


Mohsin Baldiwala, a baseball writer at the SportsRush whose love for the Yankees bloomed from the quirky 'Seinfeld' universe. With over 800 MLB articles, this two-year veteran journalist holds a BBA in Communications and is pursuing a Masters in Journalism. A diehard fan admiring Gerrit Cole, Baldi hopes the ace brings a title to the Bronx. Off the diamond, he finds solace in sitcoms, but can't shake the feeling that his Yankees fandom is just the latest elaborate scheme cooked up by the universe to leave him shirtless, brokendown, and screaming in the parking lot like a certain hapless George Costanza.

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