Juan Soto trades rumors: Ranks the other 29 MLB teams on their chances of landing a Nationals star

Juan Soto trades rumors: Ranks the other 29 MLB teams on their chances of landing a Nationals star

News emerged on Saturday that National’s outfielder Juan Soto will be made available in trade talks after he rejected Washington’s latest extension offer – a 15-year pact worth $ 440 million. Nationals are expected to ask for a ton in return for Soto, and rightly so; after all, he is a 23-year-old who is already on a Hall of Fame track. Soto owns a sloping line of .293 / .427 / .541 (160 OPS +) in his career as well as 118 home races and 21 victories over replacements in almost 2400 games in the major leagues.

He will not qualify for a free agency until after the 2024 season, which means that if a team acquires him this deadline, they will have him in tow for three playoffs.

The chances of the Nationals agreeing to a Soto trade before the August 2 deadline are, of course, someone’s guess. It seems unlikely that such a blockbuster could get together so quickly, but then this is baseball and stranger things have happened.

So, which teams are best positioned to land Soto? Below, CBS Sports has ranked the 29 non-national clubs in terms of their perceived chances of entering into an agreement.

Juan Soto may be on the move soon, if not by the August 2 trading deadline.

USATSI

Level 1: No pay, no play

29. Athletics

28. Marlins

27. Rays

26. Pirates

25. Parents

24. Brewers

We depreciate these six layers due to the financial component. Although they did not try to expand Soto, they would have to pay his substantial arbitration fees; it is not the style of these teams. You could argue that the competing Rays, Guardians or Brewers should look into acquiring Soto for the stretch, since flags are waving forever and they will have plenty of time to swap him and bring in prospects at a later date. We like the idea, but that kind of maneuvering almost never happens again, and we are skeptical that it will start again with an agreement of this expected size.

Level 2: Rebuilders R ‘Us

23. Royal

22. Red

21. Diamond back

20. Orioles

19. Rockies

18. Tigers

While acknowledging that some of these six teams appear to be closer to resuming competing ranks than others, we do not believe that any of them will pose a serious threat to meeting the Nationals’ price suggestion. However, it would be cooler if they did.

Where can Soto do his shuffling next time?

USATSI

Level 3: Something is missing

17. Unger

16. Rangers

15. White Sox

14. Angels

13. Twins

12. Padres

For as fun (or frustrating) as it would be to see Soto in a lineup with the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, or Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., we put a line through this group because we think they fall short in either the financial or the prospectus component. Of all the levels so far, this is the first where we feel that a team from here can make an actual game – we get hotter, in other words.

Level 4: Rivals, not friends

11. Brave

10. Phillies

9. Mets

One question that will be asked of the Nationals is whether they are willing to trade Soto within the division. In that case, these teams should be moved into the top tier, with the Mets in particular as one of the best potential landing places for him; if not – and let’s face it, teams generally do not want to turn their homemade superstar into a rival they will see both at home and on the road all season – then this represents the roof for this group. Regardless of the answer, the Mets (and specifically Steve Cohen’s thick wallet) are likely to serve as a useful bogeyman for Soto and his representation between now and when he puts the pen to paper on a new contract.

Would the Nationals move Soto within the division? If so, these two could become teammates in the future.

USATSI

Level 5: Challenges in the big market, but …

8. Astros

7. Blue Jays

6. Red Sox

Soto would make sense for any of these three teams – all competitive and based in large media markets – but we wonder if their front offices would be willing to commit to the terms of the contract he would require. The Astros and Red Sox are both generally managed by former Rays executives who have either switched or waved goodbye to the likes of Mookie Betts, George Springer and Carlos Correa in recent seasons instead of handing out massive expansions. (You could argue that Soto is on a different level, but those players are not exactly chopped alive.) The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are led by former Guardians leaders who have recently shown a willingness to hand out big contracts, but who presumably has its eyes on expanding its own collection of young stars, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Would they have enough money to do both, or the department to choose Soto over them? We are open to the possibility, but uncertain.

Level 6: Top five

5. Seafarers

Mariners make sense on paper. They have a good farm system. They have few long-term commitments. They have a hyperactive general manager who has every reason to push the pedal to the metal to end the sport’s longest playoff drought. Would Jerry Dipoto feel comfortable parting ways with several of his best prospects, possibly led by a combination of shortstop Noelvi Marte and pitchers George Kirby and Matt Brash? We do not know, but he owes it to himself to think about it.

4. Fighting

The Giants have previously written dark-horse pursuits for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper. Top manager Farhan Zaidi also knows all about chasing stars from his time as a member of Dodger’s front office. The Giants have little in the way of meaningful long-term commitments, and Soto would serve as a spiritual successor to Buster Posey as the face of the franchise. The catch is that Zaidi does not have the kind of war Christians that some of his competitors have, which means that he may have to take back a bad contract, like Patrick Corbins, to make up for it.

3. Yankees

We are legally obligated to include the Yankees near the top of these lists because of their financial power and their history of exploiting such situations. Brian Cashman has even stuck to prospects like Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza in recent years, which has given him some legit youngsters to play on. The interesting wrinkle with the Yankees is that they have not yet resolved the Aaron Judge situation. The only way the Yankees fan base can be reassured if they let Judge go after this season is if they have Soto either in hand or on their way – and hey, there are a number of legitimate baseball reasons to prefer a long-term commitment to him over judgments, including age, track record and injury histories.

2. Dodgers

As with the Yankees, the Dodgers are always close to the top of those lists. Andrew Friedman has previously shown that he is willing to pony up for elite players, and Soto fits in that way. Depending on how the Nationals rate some of the Dodgers’ best youths – Bobby Miller, Diego Cartaya, Andy Pages, and so on – Los Angeles will likely have to follow the plan we laid out in the Giants section by taking on a bad contract in addition to Soto. They did something similar when they acquired Mookie Betts from Boston, so it may not be that dangerous for Friedman and the company.

Cardinals

This is almost certainly aging badly, but yes, we think the Cardinals have the clearest way for any team to acquire Soto. They have won over Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in recent seasons, and have taken turns on Francisco Lindor, among others, and demonstrated that they have the appetite and willingness to make a great film. The Cardinals also have the opportunity to offer a package that includes a combination of Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill, among others. In addition, they will get Goldschmidt’s contract coming out of the books after the 2024 season … or just when Soto’s extension will increase to cover his free agent years. It’s possible Soto prefers to play on a coast, but shy of it, Mike Rizzo should direct one of his first phone calls about Soto to the Cardinals.

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