There is no denying that Juan Soto is one of the best players in baseball right now…and the crazy thing is he is only 23 and likely to be traded! It is rare that someone so young and incredibly talented is on the market for long, and the race to acquire Soto is on. The Washington Nationals are reportedly seeking a “historically large return” in trade, and Juan Soto is looking to break records with his next contract. Who can actually afford him? Here are five potential suitors and their likelihood of winning the Juan Soto sweepstakes.
New York Yankees:
This conversation has to start with the Yankees. The Yankees have proven they are willing to pay for premium players in the past, and they have a lot of intriguing prospects such as shortstops Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe that would make this trade possible. They fit both prerequisites for this trade to happen: having excellent prospects and deep enough pockets to pay the acquired player. If I am a Yankees fan, my biggest worry is the uncertainty surrounding Aaron Judge’s contract situation. Judge has clearly proved he is worth a significant contract extension, so why haven’t the Yankees given it to him already? It would be difficult for any team, even the Yankees, to give two players record-setting contracts in the same offseason. So, while on paper, the New York Yankees make a lot of sense as a trade partner for the Nationals, I don’t know if the Yankees are willing to take on 80+ million per year between two players.
New York Mets:
The New York Mets are very similar to their crosstown neighbors, the Yankees. They have an owner in Steve Cohen who has repeatedly stated that he will pay whatever it takes to win, and the team has some intriguing prospects that could entice the Nationals. Two factors will most likely eliminate the Mets as a landing spot for Soto. First, they are in the same division as the Nationals. It does not make sense for the Nationals if they have any hope of contending in the future to send their star player to a hated divisional rival. The second reason is the Mets’ past unwillingness to part with their top prospects. With the Nationals wanting multiple top prospects, the Mets would have to give up top-rated talent Fransisco Alvarez (C) and Brett Baty (3B). There has been no indication that the Mets will part with these future stars.
Los Angeles Dodgers
You may be rolling your eyes at this one, but with some work, the Dodgers could pull this off. The Dodgers are the team with the highest payroll already, and there is no indication from their ownership group that they are unwilling to spend some more. Also, the Dodgers still have a top-tier farm system. They can offer some young MLB-ready starters that some of these other teams may not be able to provide, such as young starting pitcher Dustin May and second baseman Gavin Lux. Like the Yankees, they have many contract questions for this upcoming offseason with free agents Trea Turner and longtime starter and Dodger legend Clayton Kershaw. While I do not see the Dodgers chomping at the bit to trade for Soto, they are certainly a team to keep an eye on if the Nationals are unimpressed with other teams’ offers.
St. Louis Cardinals:
I really like this scenario for the Cardinals. This team, as presently constructed, is a perennial playoff team in a weak division with a good blend of young talent and high-producing veterans. They are still missing that little bit of oomph to get them over the hump and join the World Series conversation. I believe that Juan Soto could be the missing piece to the puzzle. With stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Armando both on the wrong side of 30, I could see the Cardinals wanting to capitalize and make a big splash to try and take advantage of the last of their veterans’ prime years. Like the Dodgers, they can also offer a blend of talented prospects like Jordan Walker and young MLB-ready starters like Dylan Carlson. Another factor is that the Cardinals have over 100 million less in payroll than the previous three teams mentioned. In my opinion, the Cardinals have the best reasons to land Soto.
San Fransico Giants:
This scenario is eerily similar to the Cardinals with a few veteran stars on the wrong side of thirty, some talented young players coming up, and 100 million less in payroll than the first three teams. The most significant difference is that the Giants have to compete with the Dodgers…which may be reason enough to swing for the fences and go for it. The Giants have proven to be a good team, but like the Cardinals, they are not in the top tier of teams competing for the World Series. Soto could be the solution and significantly bridge the gap with the Dodgers. My biggest concern for a trade would be that the Giants would most likely have to give up a critical piece that is crucial for success in the present, such as pitcher Logan Webb. But overall, the Giants are also an attractive landing spot for Soto.
San Diego Padres: They have the prospects, but a combination of unwillingness to trade those prospects and a lot of free agents this offseason may take them out of the running.
Seattle Mariners: The Nationals will likely ask for Julio Rodriguez, and the Mariners will likely say no.
Toronto Blue Jays: While the Blue Jays have not shied away from spending, they clearly need to invest in pitching. Pursuing Soto would prevent them from doing that.