Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is a 23-year-old superstar. In just four and a half years in the greats, he has established himself as one of the best pure hitters in the game. He’s a perennial MVP candidate, a master of plate discipline – and now he’s in the trading bloc.
Per reportsSoto recently turned down an offer from the Nationals that would make him the highest paid player in MLB history. Imagine you’re 23 and able to turn down $440 million over the next 15 years. That’s how good a player Soto is. That’s more money than Mike Trout will make under his current contract ($429.6 million). That’s just $15 million less than the total value of the Nationals’ two largest contracts in franchise history: Max Scherzer ($245 million) and Stephen Strasburg ($210 million). That is almost 2.5 times as much as Barry Bonds made over his entire career.
According to Soto’s agent Scott Boras, the two-time All-Star is looking for a $500 million contract. Soto is on track to become a free agent after his 26-year season.
Soto’s decision to decline the offer has led to a shift in the tone of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. Throughout the season, Rizzo had made it abundantly clear that the Nats had no desire to trade Soto this season – just about the only player worth watching in Washington. Rizzo previously believed Soto would be the center of a rebuild for the team. However, with Rizzo seemingly unwilling to pay the high price Soto demands, the GM is at an impasse. Will he stick to his guns and drop another $100 million on this young phenomenon, or will he bite the bullet and send him off in front of a dozen prospects and the peace of mind knowing he doesn’t owe anyone on his roster half a billion dollars?
Rizzo opts for door No. 2. That said, with Soto under team control for more than two more seasons, the Nationals still have all the power in the world in negotiations. Let’s say the Dodgers come out and say they’re willing to give their top three prospects to get Soto. Rizzo has all the power to say “No, we fit” because Soto will still be National at the end of the season. Rizzo could expect a king’s ransom for the Washington slugger. I’m not saying the Dodgers’ top three prospects wouldn’t be a good deal, but if Rizzo thinks he can get more for Soto, he shouldn’t bite at the first semi-decent offer presented to him.
That said, the longer Rizzo holds on to Soto, the lower his value gets. Since Soto is still under contract for three more pennant races, sticking with him after the August 2 deadline would mean he was now only available for two pennant races. Still, two playoff runs is a long time, and a godsend for any strong team hungry for a championship, such as the Yankees, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Blue Jays, White Sox, and Brewers (although Soto may no longer be in their price range for an expansion). ), or maybe the Dodgers.
If Rizzo doesn’t believe a deal with Soto will be reached, he could still wait until the 2023 trade deadline to complete a trade. With the statements Rizzo had made prior to Soto’s rejection, it’s unlikely that any team made serious calls to take Soto off the Nats roster, so it’s likely that the first few calls Rizzo receives now will be low balls to test the waters. Yes, there are still more than two weeks before the deadline, but it’s unlikely that a team will make an offer that Rizzo would really go for, especially given that Soto’s value will only be huge in a calendar year or more. will drop. Rizzo should expect the great offers to start rolling in around the start of winter gatherings in the coming off-season.
So, what should the Nationals expect for Soto? At least the two best prospects of a team. That should be the start of the conversation. The Nationals would also likely want an MLB-ready talent to draw fans to the stadium as well. Obviously this player is nowhere near Soto’s talent, but there should also be someone on the table exciting with borderline All-Star potential. Combine that with a few more (maybe three or four) mid-to-low-end prospects and you’ve got a deal. However, if Rizzo really wanted to be smart, he’d throw Patrick Corbin in too.
It’s no secret that Corbin has become one of the worst contracts in MLB over the past year and a half. The Nationals bought him after a 2018 campaign in which the lefty racked up a 3.15 ERA and finished fifth in the National League’s Cy Young race. Corbin had a great 2019 with Washington, but since 2020 he has become a huge burden with the pearl in his hand. Corbin is still under contract through the 2024 season and has nearly $50 million in credit during that time – all guaranteed. If the Nationals can get him off their roster, that would be a huge plus. Sure, it would lower the value of Soto alone, but taking Corbin off the team’s payroll is a big enough win in and of itself. I’m sure some of the top teams in MLB would be willing to make that sacrifice for Soto. I mean, is money even really an issue for the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Phillies or Padres? No not really.
So, here are a few packages that I could see being made for Soto and Corbin.
New York Yankees:
SS Oswald Peraza (AAA) – the team’s No. 2 prospect (No. 38 on) MLB’s Top 100 Prospects List)
OR Jasson Domínguez (A) — the team’s No. 3 prospect (No. 39 in the Top 100)
LHP Ken Waldichuk (AAA) — LHP Ken Waldichuk (AAA) 5 Prospect (No. 72 in Top 100)
FROM Joey Gallo (MLB)
RHP Lucas Luetge (MLB)
RHP Jonathan Loisiga (MLB)
San Diego Padres:
UTIL CJ Abrams (MLB)
OR Robert Hassell (A+) — the team’s best candidate (#23 in the Top 100)
OR Trent Grisham (MLB)
RHP Reiss Knehr (AAA) — the team’s number 6 prospect
RHP Reggie Lawson (AA) — the team’s number 16 prospect
San Francisco Giants:
SS Marco Luciano (A+) — the team’s best candidate (No. 9 in the Top 100)
LHP Kyle Harrison (AA) — the team’s No. 2 prospect (No. 25 in the Top 100)
OR Luis Matos (A+) — the team’s No. 3 prospect (No. 65 in the Top 100)
RHP Gregory Santos (AAA) — the team’s number 14 prospect
OR Luis Gonzalez (MLB)
Chicago White Sox:
1B Andrew Vaughn (MLB)
SP Michael Kopech (MLB)
SS Colson Montgomery (A+) — the team’s No. 1 prospect (No. 92 in the Top 100)
OR Oscar Colas (AA) — the team’s No. 2 prospect
SS Jose Rodriguez (AA) — the team’s No. 3 prospect
SS Romy Gonzalez (AAA) — the team’s No. 7 prospect
Los Angeles Dodgers:
C Diego Cartaya (+A) — the team’s No. 1 prospect (No. 13 in the Top 100)
RHP Bobby Miller (AA) – the team’s No. 2 prospect (No. 26 in the Top 100)
RHP Julio Urias (MLB)
RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB)
FROM James Outman (AAA) — #17 prospect
Obviously there are more than just five teams that could be interested in Soto, but these fake trades are an example of the types of flights we could expect in exchange for Soto. As you can see, even with Corbin’s hideous contract in the mix, Soto is still worth a ton of talent. He’s worth it.