The MLB trade deadline is closing in and the likelihood of Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto being moved by Aug. 2 seems to be increasing, with four MLB teams seemingly emerging as finalists to land the slugger.
Washington made Soto available right before the All-Star break after the perennial NL MVP candidate turned down their 15-year contract offer. Recognizing that one of the best players in baseball intended to test free agency when his contract expires, the Nationals’ star landed on the trade block.
- Juan Soto contract: $17.1 million salary (2022), arbitration-eligible (2023-’24)
While Soto is still under team control for the next two seasons, general manager Mike Rizzo views the trade deadline as an opportunity to potentially land the maximum return. Both contenders fighting for a spot in the MLB postseason bracket and even those thinking ahead to 2023 and beyond are after the reigning Home Run Derby champion.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly made the most aggressive offers heading into the weekend and they are viewed as the finalists.
The Nationals’ price tag for Soto is quite clear. Rizzo stated the club doesn’t want to attach Patrick Corbin’s contract if it diminishes the return of young talent. More specifically, the front office is demanding multiple MLB-ready players and top prospects in order to even consider an offer.
- Juan Soto stats (2022): .243/.400/.480, 20 home runs, 45 RBI, 20% walk rate, 147 wRC+
San Diego’s deal is believed to be centered around outfielder Robert Hassell III (Padres’ No. 1 prospect), infielder C.J. Abrams and starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore. While Gore and Abrams have graduated from ‘prospect’ status, they were ranked as top-10 overall prospects in MLB within the past 18 months. Washington might want even more because Gore is currently on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching elbow.
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Any deal from the Cardinals would require infielder Nolan Gorman, a top-50 MLB prospect entering the season, along with at least one of either Jordan Walker or Masyn Winn. Both Wynn and Walker are viewed as two of the best infield prospects in baseball. St. Louis would also likely attach several of its top-10 prospects to the deal.
Los Angeles emerging as a finalist for Soto is a credit to their deep farm system and young talent on the MLB roster. The Nationals would likely insist on a package featuring catcher Diego Cartaya, pitcher Ryan Pepiot, infielder Miguel Vargas and outfielder Andy Pages. Another possibility would be Dodgers’ infielder Gavin Lux, a former top-10 prospect in MLB who has blossomed after a slow start to his career.
While Seattle is reportedly still in the mix, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported this week that the front office is more focused on addressing the starting rotation. Because acquiring either Cincinnati Reds ace Luis Castillo or Miami Marlins starter Pablo López would require a top prospect, it would likely push the Mariners out of the running for Soto.
As the trade deadline closes in, it’s becoming evident that Soto is likely playing his final days in a Nationals’ uniform. If a deal goes down by Tuesday, it will be one of the biggest trades in MLB history.