MLB Trade Rumors: Juan Soto talks include the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres, among other teams, according to Jon Heyman, who ranks the top nine candidates in order of likelihood of landing the Washington Nationals superstar.
Soto, who at 23 has established himself as one of the best players in the game, turned down a long term extension earlier this month for more than $400 million, resulting in the last place Nationals seeing what sort of market is out there for their All Star outfielder. Soto is under team control through the 2024 season, which means a team acquiring him would have him for two more years after this one. Although any deal being contingent on extending Soto would seem to be extraordinarily unlikely, an acquiring team would at least get the opportunity to engage, over that next two-plus years, in potential contract extension talks.
The cost in terms of prospects would be extremely high, though there are rumors that Patrick Corbin — who is under contract through 2024 on a deal that still has about $59 million owing after this season, and who has a 6.08 ERA in 52 starts since the start of 2021 — may be required to be taken on in any Soto deal, which would depress the asking price. Heyman specifically mentions Josh Jung and Jack Leiter as prospects that the Rangers — who he has ranked as the fourth most likely team to acquire Soto — have in their system that Washington would find attractive.
One can argue that the Rangers are not in the race this year, and that they need pitching, and that they’d have to give up a lot of prospects, and thus should not be pursuing Juan Soto. One would be wrong, however. I’m hard-pressed to think of a player like Soto who has been available at this young of an age, with so much team control remaining, in my memory. The most similar player to him through age 22 is Mike Trout, per B-R. Here’s the rest of the top ten:
Ken Griffey, Jr.
You’ve got five Hall of Famers, two no-doubt future Hall of Famers, two guys who are building solid Hall of Fame cases, and a guy whose career was derailed by a fastball to the eye.
The Rangers have a strong, deep farm system, and part of the reason you build a strong, deep farm system is so that you have the pieces to acquire a Juan Soto if the opportunity were to come along. The Rangers can deal for Soto and still have a solid farm system in place. And as we have discussed at length, the team is going to have to deal some of these prospects, and likely fairly soon, because there’s simply not room for all of them.
One would expect the Rangers to be active in talking to the Nationals about Soto. I don’t expect the Rangers to end up landing him — after all, there’s a bunch of teams talking, and only one (at most) will acquire him by the August 2 trade deadline, so just from a numbers game standpoint they are likely to miss out — but I do think it make sense that they would be a serious suitor for Soto.