The Nationals have made it clear they plan to trade Juan Soto.
It may happen at this year’s Aug. 2 deadline. Or this winter. Or at next year’s deadline. Washington has plenty of time, after all, with him under club control for two more seasons after this one. But it’s going to happen. The Nationals have little choice after the 23-year-old superstar turned down a reported 15-year, $440 million deal.
Rarely does a player of this caliber become available to a team before he hits his prime. If ever, in fact. This will likely be the biggest deal in baseball history. And the Mets and Yankees figure to both be in on Soto.
Here’s a look at what each local team can offer:
Mets. They don’t have the prospect depth that the Yankees have, but their farm system is top-heavy with four top-100 prospects. That includes prized catcher Francisco Alvarez, considered the best prospect in the sport by some. The Mets also have something no other team possesses: Owner Steve Cohen’s checkbook.
The Nationals are currently for sale. And they stand to look more attractive to bidders if expenses are curtailed. Like player salaries. Could Cohen eat disastrous deals like Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg to grease the skids for Soto? That may appeal to the Lerner family, along with the top-tier young talent that comes in the deal.
Here’s what a Mets-Nationals trade could look like:
Mets receive: OF Juan Soto, LHP Patrick Corbin (Mets pay 100% of remaining three years, $72 million owed).
Nationals receive: C Francisco Alvarez, 3B Brett Baty (No. 20 prospect in MLB), OF Alex Ramirez (No. 87 prospect), 1B Mark Vientos (top-200 prospect), RHP Tylor McGill, salary relief.
Yankees. They would take a different path. The Yankees’ window to win is far smaller, and they also have more young talent to offer. The Nationals could sell prospective owners on a quick turnaround with a bevy of prospects close to the big leagues.
The Yankees made a big push for Corbin when he was a free agent, and pitching coach Matt Blake was a big reason why. So they can not only absorb that salary, but they will have motivation to do so.
Here’s what a potential Yankees-Nats deal looks like:
Yankees receive: Soto, Corbin.
Nationals receive: 2B Gleyber Torres, SS Anthony Volpe (No. 8 prospect), OF Jason Dominguez (No. 39 prospect), C Austin Wells (No. 71 prospect), LHP Ken Waldichuk (No. 72 prospect), RHP Luis Gil, RHP Luis Medina (top-200 prospect), salary relief.
Would it take a lot? Yes. For both teams. But it is very hard to make a case against trading for Soto. He’s a perennial All-Star playing at a Hall of Fame pace. And you don’t need to commit, either.
The Mets would likely hand Soto a blank check. But the Yankees could trade for him without the intention of re-signing him, but guaranteeing you’d have Soto for three potential title runs with an outfield consisting of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Soto.
Twelve players in the MLB Futures Game were older than Soto. Dominguez, the Yankees’ top projected prospect, is 21 and only in High-A ball. Soto was hitting home runs off the Astros in the World Series at that age.
In the age of striking out Soto only has one season over 100 strikeouts, he hits home runs, he walks a bunch and his career on base percentage is .427. He has a .901 OPS in a lineup with only one other legitimate major leaguer this year. Soto is a once in a lifetime player. The Yankees and Mets should move heaven and earth to acquire him.