Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees acquiring Juan Soto from the Padres isn’t just some #YankeesTwitter fever dream, nor an MLB The Show trade come to life. It is indeed very possible that the star outfielder could be moved this winter.

Well, at least that’s what could be the case, as a source told Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner at The Athletic. While the Yankees haven’t directly engaged the Padres about Soto, they are expected to “pursue him aggressively” should he become available.

The Yankees would be crazy not to want the 25-year-old Soto. He hit .275 for the Padres last year and slugged 35 home runs. Soto also appeared in all 162 games and led MLB in walks for the third time in his career. He could earn over $30 million in his final year of arbitration and the Padres, meanwhile, are looking to cut payroll.

But talent like Soto’s doesn’t come cheap, no matter how motivated the Padres may be to move him at a given point. Team president AJ Preller will demand top minor league talent and maybe even some major league players. The Yankees can provide both but make no mistake. This won’t be a classic Brian Cashman fleecing.

Let’s start with the Padres and look at this deal from a baseball perspective because their problem is simple. Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish are the only starting pitchers under long-term deals, and Darvish is already 37 and under contract through 2028. Cut to a stacked and expensive lineup, and the Padres need cheap pitching.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have plenty of arms to offer on both the major and minor league levels. They don’t need to worry about who they give up or any supplemental pieces coming back. Acquiring Juan Soto officially puts you into “But it’s Zava” territory and that’s when you stop asking questions.

So, let’s recap. The Yankees need an impact lefty bat. San Diego needs young and affordable starting pitching to fill out its rotation. If those arms are prospects with years of team control left, all the better!

Thus, let’s propose the following trade, and it’s a BIG one:

NEW YORK YANKEES RECEIVE: OF Juan Soto, RHP Victor Lizarraga (Padres’ No. 15 prospect), RHP Sean Reynolds (No. 24), LHP Jagger Haynes (No. 26)

SAN DIEGO PADRES RECEIVE: RHP Clarke Schmidt, LHP Nestor Cortes, OF Everson Pereira (Yankees’ No. 3 prospect) RHP Chase Hampton (No. 4), SS Trey Sweeney (No. 9), RHP Yoendrys Gomez (No. 26)

Just like that, San Diego has not one but two starters to immediately slot into the rotation. Schmidt did a good job eating some innings last season and also has budding strikeout stuff. Cortes can be ace-like when healthy, though #YankeesTwitter would flip out over the popular Yankee being traded.

Pereira can probably slot into the Padres’ everyday lineup by May. Hampton posted 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) last year and could compete for a spot in the rotation in spring training. Sweeney and Gomez are basically throw-ins.

The Yankees, on their end, get their man. Picturing Juan Soto’s Griffey-esque swing in Yankee Stadium is enough to make any pinstriped fan salivate. The handful of arms acquired with him are basically window dressing.

Better yet, by trading Schmidt and Cortes, this gives Cashman more wiggle room to pursue Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Again, because it’s Juan Soto.

This deal doesn’t fill all of the Yankees’ roster holes. They’ll still need an everyday center fielder until Jasson Dominguez is back from Tommy John surgery, probably around the All-Star Break. There’s also the possibility that Soto could just stay the one year in New York and leave in free agency.

But no risk, no reward. If Juan Soto becomes available in a trade, this is a good starting offer for the Yankees to bring to the table. It’d be even better if Soto proves such a great fit in the Bronx that Cashman cuts Giancarlo Stanton and, a la with Aaron Hicks, just eats what’s left on the contract.

Because it’s Juan Soto, plain and simple.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.