With the Washington Nationals off to a predictably slow start having traded most of their talent away last year, Juan Soto might be on the move, according to Buster Olney. He reports rival executives are saying the Nationals may be 'compelled' and 'motivated' to move the 23-year-old superstar.
Those are some strong words to be a made up report, so we're rolling with it.
Why would the Nationals would do this?
For starters, the Washington Nationals are currently 12 games back of the first place Mets -- good for last place. Being in last place doesn't always mean an organization should un-load all their talent but it does bring up an important question: By the time this team is completive again, is it possible for this player to be around? As I said before, Soto is just 23 and will surely be around the next time Washington cracks the postseason, however at what cost and how long until that next playoff birth happens? That wait at Soto's potential price might be too much for Washington to handle.
To become a contender, a team must first develop talent, and then they most likely have to be aggressive in free agency. The Nationals have been aggressive in year's past on free agents like Patrick Corbin -- they just have too many non contributors making top dollar right now. All that spending eventually forced GM Mike Rizzo to deal Trea Turner and Max Scherzer to the Dodgers last year. No one wants to do that, but they pretty much had to if they wanted to re-load the farm system and build a team around Juan Soto. Rival executives telling Buster Olney the Nationals might be motivated for a deal this summer means the team doesn't feel they can build enough around the young star, and that will now send large markets into the waters like sharks.
Who might come calling?
Although many believe the Dodgers might get involved here, their current roster suggests otherwise. L.A. may let former MVP Cody Bellinger go, but they also have a looming extension in the wings for Trea Turner. The 30-year-old All-Star will likely command a deal in the ballpark of $250-$325 million this upcoming offseason. Less than ideal timing if you want to get a deal done on Juan Soto, who's set to become a free agent in two years.
The big bad Yankees have real potential here to flex their muscles and shock the world for Juan Soto. They have the prospects to get it done, but like the Dodgers, have another star to pay: Aaron Judge. Big no. 99 turned down a $230 million offer just before opening day and all he's done since is lead the league in homers, predictably raising that asking price. That said, the Yankees have over $75 million coming off the books following the 2022 season and could take advantage of their patience on the shortstop market this past off-season by landing Soto and re-signing Judge. That'd be one heck of a lineup with the short porch in right field.
Mets. Why not? Team owner Steve Cohen has the money even including the contract they gave out a few years back when they dealt for Lindor. If any owner was willing to trade for a player that's expected to command the largest deal in MLB's history, it's Steve Cohen. The Mets will always be involved when the best players become available the same way the Yankees were in the 90's.
Contract asking price
Juan Soto, in roughly two years, will be asking for an offer north of Mike Trout's 12-years, $426.5 million. Sounds nuts but he's younger, clutch, has less holes offensively (as ridiculous as that sounds), and he's been durable thus far. Soto is also marketable in the same way Padres' star Fernando Tatis Jr. is. He'll return every penny a team pays off jersey sales alone.
All large markets should be calling. The only fear these teams should have is that Soto's agent, Scott Boras, has a knack for getting his clients to free agency to maximize their paydays. Not likely any team dealing their entire farm system wants to let that happen.