With four days to go until Tuesday evening’s trade deadline, the floodgates of activity have yet to really open. There’s nevertheless been plenty of chatter about the game’s top trade candidate, Juan Soto. The Nationals superstar will continue to be the talk of the summer market until the club either pulls the trigger on a deal or the deadline passes.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post wrote last night that the Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers and Rangers are among the teams generally viewed as those best positioned to pull off the blockbuster. That wasn’t a comprehensive list of clubs with interest, although Jim Bowden of the Athletic tweets this evening that only four clubs remain in the market. Bowden adds that the Padres and Cardinals are among that group of four, but the identities of the other two teams remain unknown. To be clear, it’s not a certainty that no one besides St. Louis, San Diego, Los Angeles and Texas is still in the mix.
Previous reports have tied the Mariners, Giants, Mets and Yankees to Soto, but the general belief is the Nats aren’t interested in dealing him within the NL East. Meanwhile, Heyman wrote last night the Nats “seem focused” on teams other than the Yankees. That’s not to say the Yankees are out, as Heyman unsurprisingly notes they’re still interested in Soto after acquiring Andrew Benintendic from the Royals.
The Cardinals, Padres and Dodgers are obvious entrants into the Soto bidding. They’re each 2022 contenders with a robust collection of young major league and/or farm talent, and all three have proven bold enough to trade for star players in recent years. The Rangers are perhaps a more surprising entrant into the market since they’re not in the playoff mix this year, but Texas has long maintained they expect to compete in earnest by next season. With soto controllable for an additional two seasons, the Rangers could enter the fray with an eye towards adding another star to the 2023-24 rosters after big free agent pickups of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wrote yesterday that Texas has indeed been in contact with the Washington front office and continues to monitor the market. Whether they’ll be willing to meet the Nationals’ understandably astronomical asking price — and top the offers of clubs that are eyeing Soto as a target to improve their 2022 odds as well — remains to be seen. Grant suggests the Rangers may prefer to focus their resources, both financial and in terms of prospect capital, on their efforts to add talent to the starting rotation. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic noted last night in an appearance on Fox Sports that the general expectation is that Texas will be outbid by a more motivated club (Twitter link).
There’ll be more clarity on the Soto negotiations over the next few days. One thing that does not appear to be under consideration: the sides reopening extension talks before the trade deadline. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post hears the Nats aren’t planning to make another extension offer (Twitter link). General manager Mike Rizzo has confirmed that Washington made a 15-year, $440MM proposal that Soto rejected a few weeks ago. That apparently marked the final extent to which the Nationals were willing to go, at least this summer. That’s not to say the Nats have to force a trade imminently, since his remaining arbitration eligibility would allow them to revisit extension and/or trade talks next offseason if he’s not dealt before Tuesday.