Young Washington Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game on Monday from Dodger Stadium and Soto was the talk of All-Star festivities regardless because he could be traded by the Aug. 2 deadline after turning down a massive contract extension worth almost half a billion dollars from Washington. Must be nice! Everything for your MLB betting.
Juan Soto May Now Be Traded By Nationals
“A couple weeks ago, they were saying they will never trade me,” Soto said. “And now all these things come out. It feels really uncomfortable, you don’t know what to trust but at the end of the day it’s out of my hands of what decision they make.”
Juan Soto rejected the Nationals’ 15-year, $440 million extension offer recently and — without the deal — Washington let Soto’s camp and the industry know that Soto is available now. There have been other exceptional players traded in recent years such as Mookie Betts, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado and Trea Turner — all All-Stars this year — but it is difficult to find anyone who combines the youth, control (Soto cannot be a free agent until after the 2024 season) and ceiling (his comps through age 23 are players such as Trout, Frank Robinson and Ted Williams).
The deal, first reported by The Athletic, carried the largest total value in baseball history but a $29.3 million average annual value that is surpassed by 15 current players’ contracts. The value ultimately was not enough for Soto, who was also hesitant to commit long term to an organization undergoing a potential change in ownership and navigating through what promises to be a prolonged rebuild.
“Think about what he has done in four years, and he’s only 23,” said Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, who as a Brave competed against Soto over and over. “He’s putting up numbers that we are going to talk about in like 60 years and we will look back and say how much fun it was to watch him, kind of like Mike Trout.”
Like the Astros trading for Justin Verlander at the 2017 trade deadline and the Dodgers acquiring Betts before the 2020 season, Soto could put someone over the top.
The asking price to acquire Soto in a trade likely will be historic. Following the 2022 season, Soto will have two more years of arbitration eligibility before hitting the open market in 2025. The team that lands Soto in a potential trade will do everything it can to get him to sign long term.
Soto is making $17.1 million this year in arbitration and on pace for roughly 5 WAR in a down year. What would teams pay for that production on the open market? Well, the Mets are paying Max Scherzer $43.3 million per year over the next three years, and Soto has out-WAR’ed Scherzer in each of the past three seasons.
The San Francisco Giants are among the favorites to potentially trade for Soto and would need to part with most or all of their top four prospects in Mario Luciano, Kyle Harrison, Luis Matos and Will Bednar. Two-way prospect Reggie Crawford, selected 30th overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, would be in the mix as well.
The St. Louis Cardinals are another possibility. They’ve won out on Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in recent seasons, and have taken swings on Francisco Lindor, among others, demonstrating that they have the appetite and willingness to make a blockbuster addition. The Cardinals also have the ability to offer a package that includes some combination of Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, Dylan Carlson, and Tyler O’Neill, among others.
There is a precedent for a player this good and this young being traded: Miguel Cabrera. The Marlins traded a 24-year-old Cabrera to the Tigers when he was two years away from free agency back in Dec. 2007.
At 23 years and 266 days, Soto became the second youngest player ever to win the Derby. He is the second Washington Nationals player to win the event (Bryce Harper won in 2018) and first Dominican-born champion since Robinson Cano (2011).