The Washington Nationals are reportedly open to a Juan Soto trade after he rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract extension. The development comes one month from Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo saying the club intends to build around the superstar.
At just 23 years old, Soto is already thought of as one of the most feared offensive players in the league and he is often times compared to Ted Williams. Soto’s resume includes the 2020 batting title, two Silver Slugger Awards, 2022 Home Run Derby champion, and being a key contributor during the Nationals’ 2019 World Series title run.
The precedent for trading a player like Soto is non-existent. He’s younger than many of baseball’s top prospects and he still has two and a half seasons of team control before becoming eligible to reach free agency.
Thus, the Nationals are asking for a trade package that includes four to five young and talented players according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and they haven’t been willing to negotiate from that:
“It’s still a little early in the process. We know the Padres are a hungry team, they’re always in the market for big-name players, and the usual suspects will be involved. At least checking into Juan Soto. My understanding right now from multiple clubs, is that the Nationals are asking for four to five top, young players. A combination of prospects and Major Leaguers with low service time. Now that’s a monstrous ask, but it’s Juan Soto.
“He’s 23 years old, you’re getting him for three pennant races. Teams are not offended by what the Nationals want, but they’re worried that they can’t meet that price. At this point, from what I’m being told, it’s not really a negotiation. The Nationals are saying either you express a willingness to meet our price or we just go to the next club.”
With the cost to acquire Soto, there are only a few teams who could afford it, and even fewer that are capable of pulling it off without sacrificing so much from their organization and farm system that it ends up impeding their chances of winning.
Top teams like the New York Mets and New York Yankees will surely be interested, but it’s hard to see the Nationals trading Soto within the division, and it has been reported both of those clubs are hesitant to part with their top prospects. However, the Mets and Yankees each have the resources and money to make a trade happen, so they can’t be counted out.
The San Diego Padres have the talent to pull it off as well, but their club already lacks depth and has a significant portion of their rotation set to reach free agency after the season, so trading multiple assets for one player could make their roster far too top-heavy moving forward. They were also hesitant last season to make deals because of their payroll situation.
A few non-contenders with the assets to make the deal, such as the Baltimore Orioles and Miami Marlins, could also find the deal intriguing to boost their rebuild. But trading for Soto at this time and paying the extra cost to have him for this season would be a moot point for them.
This leaves a few teams as the likely top suitors for a trade, which includes the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners. All three teams are in contention and have the assets to make a deal work.
The San Francisco Giants have also reportedly checked in on Soto, but with the current state of their roster and a top-heavy farm system, it seems unlikely they would be willing to move multiple top prospects for him.
The Cardinals could send a package headlined by Jordan Walker and/or Nolan Gorman, and include other top prospects, such as Masyn Winn, Matthew Liberatore, Ivan Herrera, Gordon Graceffo. The Mariners could headline a deal with Logan Gilbert along with some combination of Noveli Marte, Henry Ford, Edwin Arroyo and Emerson Hancock.
Can the Dodgers trade for Juan Soto?
The Dodgers have a deep farm system to make the deal and they have the financial ability to take on the contract of Patrick Corbin, which may make them the favorites.
A deal headlined by Gavin Lux along with some combination of three to four of Diego Cartaya, Bobby Miller, Andy Pages, Michael Busch, Ryan Pepiot and Miguel Vargas would be a tough deal to beat for nearly every team, and the Dodgers could afford to move a few of them without hurting their ability to compete moving forward.
The MLB trade deadline is set for 3 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
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