MLB Trade Deadline: Soto Sweepstakes Heats Up
Star Outfielder Dominating Rumor Mill
The Juan Soto situation will control the MLB trade deadline leading up to the August 2 (6:00 p.m. ET) cutoff. Here is a look at the five teams (okay, six) we think are the best bets to nab the Washington Nationals superstar, along with the odds already posted.
New York Mets (+400)
The Mets have already done some work on the trade front, making swaps on back-to-back days with the Pittsburgh Pirates to fill some depth needs at catcher (Michael Perez) and at first base/designated hitter (Daniel Vogelbach).
Neither move will move the needle all that much and it stands to reason that the team will add more depth pieces and perhaps a bullpen arm, at the very least. Jacob deGrom’s looming return will serve as a major addition to the rotation, so they should be all set there.
That leaves open the possibility of a strong pursuit of Soto. Early reports suggest that the Mets have been unwilling to part with three top prospects, but perhaps that will change in the next week; or perhaps the Nationals won’t find that anyone is willing to do so, and they’ll settle on two top prospects and some fillers. Or nothing at all…they’re under no obligation to trade Soto and have him under team control for two more years.
The Vogelbach move was designed to give the Mets some power (needed) from a left-handed bat (needed). It can serve as insurance (very cheap) in case the Soto thing doesn’t pan out.
New York Yankees (+500)
The Yankees have some quality prospects, they have some heavy-legged outfielders that could use breaks or days at DH and they have a pressing need to win this year. Anything short of a trip to the World Series (and quite possibly a win) would qualify as a disappointment for an organization going on 13 years without a title.
To save himself and his loyal choice as a manager in Aaron Boone from the wrath of an eager fan base, general manager Brian Cashman will feel a strong urge to try to reel in the big one. Soto would make the best lineup in baseball the best lineup in baseball and he would allow Boone to rotate Giancarlo Stanton into the DH spot more often and perhaps juggle Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks when needed to keep legs fresh well into October.
The big issue, and it’s a big one, is whether a Soto trade means Aaron Judge moves on this offseason. Even the Yankees would have a hard time affording both players down the road, especially with other big contracts for Stanton and Gerrit Cole on the books for several more years.
If Cashman can’t resist the urge to win now, then Soto could be in pinstripes.
San Francisco Giants (+550)
The prospects are there, particularly fast-rising lefty Kyle Harrison and shortstop Marco Luciano. The question is, do the Giants want to leverage some potential future stars and commit to paying a $450-$500 million tag on one guy during a season when they’re playing just .500 ball?
It’s hard to justify that, but Soto is a very rare talent and would be a wonderful fit in a park where his spray-the-ball-everywhere swing would work wonders. Brandon Belt and Joc Pederson are off the books after this year, and Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria are likely gone after 2023 (as well as some high-priced pitchers), so some money will be freed up.
The MLB trade news and oddsmakers following that news seem to think the Giants have a pretty favorable shot here.
San Diego Padres (+700)
Here’s our favorite to land Soto. With Manny Machado in place and Fernando Tatis Jr. returning soon, the Padres may need one more big piece to contend with the Dodgers and others. Tatis will return later this summer, and a postseason push with those three backings a solid rotation, and a bullpen is tantalizing.
San Diego has a mishmash of outfielders led by Jurickson Profar and Trent Grisham who are somewhat underwhelming. Soto is a massive upgrade, to put it mildly, and general manager A.J. Preller is not shy about making a big splash. He’s been in win-now mode for a few years. With Soto in the fold, winning now, and for years to come, is very much a reality.
The Padres are as involved as anybody in the MLB trade deadline over the past few years. They’ll be in on Soto until the end.
St. Louis Cardinals (+700)
Is there ever a big name the Cardinals are not in on? Not lately, and certainly not in a year when they’re right in the middle of the playoff mix and in need of an upgrade or two.
The Cardinals’ more pressing immediate need is on the mound. Their starters own a 4.07 ERA, ninth in the National League. Soto is a long-term centerpiece for anyone willing to open the wallet and St. Louis isn’t too shy about doing so and it has loads of roster flexibility in the coming years.
The Cardinals also have a good collection of top prospects and major league players under team control that can fill immediate spots in Washington. So, from a personnel standpoint, Soto to St. Louis may be the easiest move to make among those circulating MLB trade deadline rumors.
Houston Astros (+1000)
The pieces are pretty much all in place for Dusty Baker’s crew to make a return trip to the World Series, but an upgrade offensively could make a difference. The Astros aren’t heavily involved in the MLB trade deadline rumor mill as it pertains to Soto, but it’s not like they couldn’t find a spot for him.
The Astros are eighth in the AL in batting (.241), 10th in steals, and sixth in runs. They’re slightly above average, to be sure, but Soto would transform them into an elite lineup. Houston has had a rotation in center field that hasn’t really worked out. Soto doesn’t play there, but they’d shuffle the moon and the stars to get him into a corner spot, keep Yordan Alvarez from having to ever wear a glove, and somehow keep Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker in on a regular basis.
The big issue lies in the fact that Houston’s farm system is not well-stocked, and if it shipped a few top prospects it would be laid even barer. But Brantley is a free agent (and a 35-year-old one at that) after the season, as is Yuli Gurriel. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will be free to go after the 2024 season.
Building around Soto, Alvarez, and Tucker from that point on might help the team from having to employ a rebuild anytime soon.Follow us on Twitter