After a lot of rumors and speculation, the long-awaited Juan Soto trade happened on December 7 when he was traded to the New York Yankees. San Diego general manager A.J. Preller got a huge return that's coming to Southern California for 2024. The package includes four pitches and a catcher.
The four pitchers the Padres are getting are Michael King, Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, and prospect Drew Thorpe. The Friars also got catcher Kyle Higashioka who played well for the Yankees.
Don’t sleep on San Diego's acquisition of Kyle Higashioka
Last season the Padres brought in Gary Sanchez, another former Yankees catcher, who played well behind the plate and worked well with the pitching staff. He was a big reason for the season that Blake Snell had and why he won the National League Cy Young Award. He also added thump to the lineup.
Sanchez platooned with prospect Luis Campusano and was a good player for the youngster to learn from. Now, with the addition of Higashioka, he will be another good catching mind for Campusano to work with in 2024.
The 33-year-old played in 314 games for New York over seven seasons in the Bronx and is coming off a career-high 84 games in 2023. His numbers last season are not going to blow you away as he slashed .236/.274/.413 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI, but he was a good contact bat at the bottom of the order for Yankees manager Aaron Boone. He did the little things at the plate to help win games and he used the whole field.
His work being the plate was more important and better with a Yankees pitching staff that struggled at times throughout the season behind American League Cy Young Gerrit Cole. Is he going to be a difference maker at the plate for the Padres in 2024? Probably not, but where he is going to be invaluable is behind the plate and working and being a mentor for Campusano.
A veteran behind the plate to work with their young catcher is what Preller needed and don’t sleep on his addition.