With the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline in the offing, it’s rumor season around baseball. That’s why we’re here to round up all those rumors and pass them along to you via state-of-the-art HTML. Now let’s jump into Monday’s buzz.
The biggest single story of the deadline is where Juan Soto will be playing once the music stops. To recap, Soto is reported to have turned down a $440 million contract extension offer from the Washington Nationals, and now the Nationals are looking to trade him. While that trade may be tabled until the offseason, there seems to be a lot of momentum right now, which means a deal for Soto could come together prior to the upcoming deadline.
On that front, Jon Heyman reports that a potential frontrunner for Soto may be emerging — the St. Louis Cardinals. CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson confirmed the Cardinals’ interest, and adds that a potential deal could likely include Nationals’ lefty Patrick Corbin.
The Cardinals are one of teams reported to have interest in Soto, along with the Padres, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Mariners, and others. St. Louis may have the most alluring package of players to offer. They have power-hitting rookie infielder Nolan Gorman, top prospect Jordan Walker, and team-controlled outfielders Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, and Harrison Bader. This also tracks as the sort of blockbuster the Cardinals have made over the years, including semi-recent trades for current stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Needless to say, the addition of Soto would be a huge boon to St. Louis’ hopes, both this season and for years to come — assuming, of course, they’re able to sign Soto to that elusive extension.
Soto asking price is high
Speaking of all things Juan Soto, Ken Rosenthal has some specifics on what the Nationals may be seeking in return. Rosenthal writes:
“The Nationals, according to major-league sources, are telling teams they want four to five top young players for Soto, a combination of prospects and major leaguers with low service time. To meet that price, one club official said, ‘you would have to rip up your farm system.'”
Yes, that’s a steep ask that probably rules out a number of teams that would otherwise be serious players. That said, the ask is high for good reason. Soto is still just 23 years of age, and he’s already a generational performer at the plate. Across parts of five big-league seasons, Soto owns a slash line of .292/.426/.539, and this season he has an OPS+ of 157 with 20 home runs in 94 games and 78 unintentional walks against just 58 strikeouts. It’s also possible Soto is pre-peak. If nothing else, he figures to continue being one of the top producers in all of baseball for years upon years to come. As well, the fact that he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season means there’s plenty of time to work out an extension. That kind of player won’t come cheap, to say the least.
What could reduce the ask is if the Nationals insist on stapling an underwater contract — Patrick Corbin‘s, for instance — to Soto as part of any deal. That, though, is high price of a different kind. Either way, the team that acquires Soto will have to pay dearly in one way or another, but it will almost certainly be worth it (and then some).