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As he’s officially on the market before Major League Baseball’s Aug. 2 trade deadline, the very best fit for Juan Soto is not any longer with the Washington Nationals. That ship sailed when he rejected a contract offer worth $440 million over 15 years.
So, let’s discuss where Soto does fit best.
The set of possibilities could be thinning, with Jon Heyman of the NY Post indicating on Thursday that the marketplace for the 23-year-old superstar is right down to four teams:
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman
While theres no word the Yankees are officially from Juan Soto its clear they arent currently at the forefront of these talks. So that it is practical they jumped on Andrew Benintendi. SD, STL, LAD and TEX, perhaps because of better prospect matches, seem more involved with Soto talks.
As well as the NY Yankees, though, we see five other teams that conceivably still could leap to leading of the pack in the race for Soto. We’ve weighed just how much sense these 10 clubs lead to him predicated on a number of key factors.
Namely, how Sotowho has a career .291/.426/.538 slash line and is under club control through 2024would easily fit into their lineups and of their spending capacity, how they fall into line as a trading partner with the Nationals and where they’re within their contention windows.
Without further delay, let’s count ’em down.
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10. NY Mets
Record: 61-37, 1st in NL East
The Mets would reap the benefits of having Soto as a slugging partner for Pete Alonso, who owns 26 of the 96 home runs that they’ve hit as a team. And considering that they are in first place for several but 1 day this year, their contention window is really as open as it has been because the 2015 Mets visited the planet Series.
But even though the Mets were ready to offer young catcher Francisco Alvarez, who rates as MLB.com’s No. 1 prospect, the sheer unlikelihood of the Nationals dealing a generational superstar to a National League East rival underscores why talks between your two clubs haven’t gotten far.
“These were intrigued, like any team ought to be, if they first got word of his availability,” SNY’s Andy Martino said on the most recent bout of The Mets Pod. “They investigated it, also it just didn’t grab lots of traction over that All-Star break week.”
9. NY Yankees
Record: 67-33, 1st in AL East
Despite the fact that they’ve cooled having an 11-12 record in July, the Yankees are obviously believe it or not of a win-now team compared to the Mets. Sufficient reason for three prospects within MLB.com’s top 40, there is also the young talent to meet up the demands that Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says the Nationals have for a Soto trade:
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
WHEN I said on @FS1, multiple clubs saying Nats require Soto is 4 to 5 top youngsters, combo of prospects and major leaguers with low service time. Ten days from deadline, Nats arent negotiating, one exec says. A team either shows willingness to meet up price, or Nats move ahead.
But as Heyman said, the Yankees’ acquisition of Benintendi does cloud their standing in the Soto sweepstakes. Benintendi is definately not Soto’s offensive equal, but his profile is comparable to the extent that he’s a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder.
As on one who spoke to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com put it, the Yankees tend to be more of a “fallback” option for Soto at this stage.
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8. Cleveland Guardians
Record: 50-48, 2nd in AL Central
Will be the Guardians a really fit for Soto? In accordance with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, yes:
Sports Illustrated @SInow
The Guardians and Rays are on the list of teams who could push to obtain Juan Soto with the MLB trade deadline seven days away, in accordance with Tom Verducci https://t.co/oSCntPZr0Z
Especially including right-hander Daniel Espino and outfielder George Valera, the Guardians have the type of prospects the Nationals are searching for. Goodness knows they want his bat within their outfield, which includes produced only a .325 OBP and 14 home runs.
The larger issue here pertains to money. Soto has already been making $17.1 million, with two additional trips through arbitration that figure to cover him around $55 million. As of this moment, the Guardians’ whole payroll only makes up about $67.8 million.
7. Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 53-46, 3rd in AL East
Per Verducci, the Rays will be the other unlikely team in the mix for Soto. They often require a middle-of-the-order hitter of his caliber, though his handedness will be a bonus. The .278 wOBA that they’ve gotten from the left side ranks 27th in the league.
Although Rays arguably haven’t any prospects on a single level as Espino or Valera, their prospect list doesn’t speak for several of the young talent in the business. For example, righty Shane Baz and outfielder Josh Lowe are former top prospects who only recently lost their eligibility.
Once more, however, the financials complicate this fit. The $55 million that Soto will make on the next 2 yrs is approximately a third of what the Rays will undoubtedly be paying Wander Franco through the entire life of his franchise-record 11-year, $182 million contract.
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6. Seattle Mariners
Record: 54-46, 2nd in AL West
Soto and Julio Rodriguez together? Well, that just appears like plain fun. And just like the Rays, the Mariners require a good left-handed hitter. Their .289 wOBA from the left side is preferable to Tampa Bay’s, but nonetheless only 23rd-best in the league.
The financials? Psh. No issue. The Mariners are spending about $50 million under their established capacity at this time, so they may have to be able to execute a trade-and-extend with Soto.
A more impressive question here’s if the Mariners have the type of talent that the Nationals are searching for, with another being whether they’re even yet in the marketplace for Soto at all. They seem more centered on pitching, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan reporting that they are being particularly aggressive on Cincinnati Reds righty Luis Castillo.
5. Toronto Blue Jays
Record: 55-44, 2nd in AL East
There’s a minumum of one person in the Toronto Blue Jays who would like Soto ahead north of the border:
As excellent as Toronto’s offense is generally, it does require a left-handed slugger to greatly help balance things out. To wit, Soto has more home runs by himself (20) compared to the Jays have gotten out of most their left-handed hitters (13) throughout this year.
But as the Blue Jays have the prospectslooking at you, Gabriel Morenoto barter with Washington, their payroll has already been at a record-high. In addition they seem more centered on pitching, as they’re reportedly there with Seattle in the Castillo sweepstakes.
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Record: 44-54, 3rd in AL West
Even before he labeled them among the four teams with the very best shot for Soto on Thursday, Heyman had initially pegged them as a 10-1 favorite to land the slugger in a column for the Post on July 17.
“Texas showed its among the big players when it spent a half a billion dollars on the double-play combo of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien this winter,” he wrote. “Could the Rangers choose another $500M?”
The Rangers are roughly $23 million lacking their peak payroll from 2017, so there may indeed be flexibility for a mega-extension for Soto. Theirs can be among MLB’s five best farm systems as ranked by B/R’s Joel Reuter, therefore the methods to trade with the Nats are likewise there.
Regarding how Soto would fit on the Rangers, it’s hard to think about an improved solution for that hole they will have out in left field. Their left fielders come in the red with minus-1.0 rWAR, tied for last in the majors with Atlanta.
The elephant in the area this is actually the Rangers’ contention window. It isn’t exactly open at this time. And if these were to trade for Soto, the sheer cost with regards to both prospects and money could threaten to hamstring any future efforts they make to include additional talent.
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Record: 66-32, 1st in NL West
Because they eye a vacation to what will be their fourth World Series within the last six years, trading for Soto would surely maintain the LA Dodgers’ character.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has mostly centered on creating a sustainable foundation for contention at Chavez Ravine, however the Manny Machado, Mookie Betts and Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trades prove that he’s not risk-averse concerning avoid blockbusters.
Beyond that, the very thought of Soto in the Dodgers lineup is downright scary. The Dodgers already lead the National League with 511 runs, partly because of the healthy advantage on all of those other league in on-base percentage. They’re at .336, with the next-closest teams being the Blue Jays at .331.
With catcher Diego Cartaya at the forefront of MLB’s third-best farm system, the talent will there be for the Dodgers to utilize the Nationals. Exactly the same goes for the amount of money for a possible Soto extension. The Dodgers’ payroll is north of $260 million at this time, however they have only four contracts guaranteed after 2023.
What gives us pause is that Soto looks similar to a “nice-to-have” when compared to a “must-have” for the Dodgers. What they actually need is pitching, particularly in a bullpen where Craig Kimbrel has been shaky in his closing duties.
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AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
Record: 52-47, 2nd in NL Central
There is a report from Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat that the St. Louis Cardinals have already been focusing on a cope with the Nationals that could see them quit slugging infielder Nolan Gorman and get back Soto and fallen ace Patrick Corbin, who has 2 yrs and nearly $60 million remaining on his contract.
Not fast, says Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. Specifically, he said throughout a weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan (h/t Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors) that he’s “not going to dilute a return for just about any player with the addition of a negative contract.”
This is not necessarily a deal-breaker for the Cardinals, however.
Gorman isn’t their only talented young player in the majors, as that list also contains outfielders Dylan Carlson and Juan Yepez and right-hander Andre Pallante. There is also a good farm system headlined by MLB.com’s No. 6 talent, third baseman Jordan Walker.
If the Cardinals were to include Soto, he’d share the lineup with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado through 2024. That’s certainly the center of a global Series-caliber lineup. Sufficient reason for Goldschmidt set ahead off the books after ’24, the Cardinals could have a way to a possible extension with Soto before free agency calls his number.
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Record: 55-45, 2nd in NL West
There might be several team in the race for Soto, however the NORTH PARK Padres sure appear to be the front-runner.
This is ESPN’s Buster Olney on Thursday morning:
And MLB insider Hector Gomez on Thursday evening:
Despite having Fernando Tatis Jr. on the comeback trail from the fractured wrist, the Padres need Soto within their lineup in the worst way. They will have only a .316 OBP and only 81 home runs as a team, making use of their outfield accounting for a .640 OPS that ranks 26th in the league.
The required elements for a trade also appear to be there. Outfielder Robert Hassell III is among the best prospects in baseball, while shortstop C.J. Abrams and left-hander MacKenzie Gore (who’s currently on the IL with elbow inflammation) were recently on that list. Even though San Diego’s payroll is maxed out at this time, relief is coming after 2023.
Are you aware that Padres’ contention window, well, it’s this simple: they’re in the running for a global Series title that might be the franchise’s first.