Juan Soto is (possibly) on his way out from Washington?!?
So unless you have been living under a rock, the news that has rocked the baseball world this trade deadline season is that the news that the Washington Nationals are channeling the Washington Generals and are willing to entertain a trade for their young, superstar right fielder Juan Soto, after he rejected a proffered 14-year, $440 million contract extension.
It is worth noting that the Nationals are pretty bad this year with the Nationals deciding, last year, that their championship window was a fluke (or more likely the direct result of the Dave Roberts Playoff Overmanagement Express, but that too, is a subject for another time) and they started breaking the team down for parts last year. The Dodgers directly benefited from this state of affairs, obtaining Trea Turner and Max Scherzer for Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz at last year’s Trade Deadline. It worked out fairly well...until it didn’t, but that is another story for another time.
Needless to say, Juan Soto has tried to deflect the rumor discussion (paywalled), and then he went out and won himself the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium. Moreover, he was serenaded by the crowd at Dodger Stadium, during the All-Star Game, to the point he was late to get back to the dugout in-between innings:
Dodgers fans chanting "Future Dodger" to Juan Soto and him looking back with a smile.— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) July 20, 2022
Soto winning the HR Derby at Dodger Stadium
There's a lot of warm fuzzies with Dodgers fans and Soto rn.
In situations like these, I tend to play the role of “Doubting Thomas.” In 2017, I wrote that the Dodgers did not need to get anyone at the deadline, and then the Dodgers went deal crazy, which went well until the involvement of trash cans in Houston.
During the lockout, there were discussions that the Dodgers were going to sign Freddie Freeman and I thought these discussions were bordering on absurd. I even wrote at length on how logically and financially it did not make sense that the Dodgers were in this position. But to my shock, the Dodgers actually signed Freeman. So what the heck do I know?
Needless to say, if the Nationals were being run competently, the Dodgers would not be in a position to acquire Juan Soto. But again, we are where we are. And like usual, those that know are not talking and those who do not know will not stop. Well, that fact will not stop those who are interested from talking about it. Plus, I have COVID again - so going to Denver was in doubt when this essay was drafted. Because, unlike the 2022 Dodgers, I cannot seem to catch a break with my health this season.
Juan Soto: Ted Williams, fellow Latin star, come again?
Juan Soto has been comparably compared to arguably the greatest hitter of all time, the type of person that John Wayne imitated all those years. Let’s face it, the Kid, Ted Williams, was the real deal. So it was shocking when Mike Petriello of MLB.com started with this argument that Juan Soto could be compared to Ted Williams (as a matter for serious discussion) back in November of 2020, with Jayson Stark of The Athletic continuing the argument and comparison in 2021 (paywalled).
It's me, the Juan Soto appreciatorhttps://t.co/iKr7bPd4UM— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) December 6, 2020
And in preparing for this essay, I learned that Ted Williams was of mixed racial descent, and was ashamed of his Mexican-American heritage until far later in his life. Regardless, he spoke out for the inclusion of Negro Leaguers into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Without further ado, if I were to Quantum Leap into Andrew Friedman or if the Dodgers were to stop perpetually ignoring me via letter and social media, here is the trade that I would propose.
A Modest Proposal: The Mookie Betts trade, redux
Now I am not proposing that the Dodgers trade Mookie Betts - what silly, incompetent team would honestly do that?
In the Mookie Betts trade, the Dodgers were able to pry Betts from Boston for less of a prospect haul than one would expect because the Dodgers took on half the contract of one David Price. If only the Nationals had a similar albatross contract to unload... (Sorry, Mr. Price, you do seem nice and you have been moderately effective in the bullpen.)
In 2022, as of this essay, Mr. Corbin has gone 4-12 (it happens) with an ERA of 5.87 (ew) and is making 23 million USD (/gasp) with two additional years on the deal (that’s not so bad) with the final year’s contract being worth $35,000,000 (wow). The terms of this contract paired with this level of abysmal performance, usually get someone fired and/or mocked for years.
The Dodgers have a well-stocked farm system AND lots of money; it’s time to leverage both.
The Dodgers would get:
- OF Juan Soto
- P Patrick Corbin (and agree to pay his entire remaining salary in 2022, all of his salary in 2023, and 2024)
The Nationals would get:
- P Dustin May
- INF Michael Busch (MLB No. 42 prospect)
- OF Andy Pages (MLB No. 47 prospect)
- P Ryan Pepiot (MLB No. 75 prospect)
- OF James Outman (Dodgers No. 17 prospect)
- INF/OF Eddy Alvarez
- UTIL Zack McKinstry
I have seen proposed trades offering the equivalent of trying to hold the Nationals over a barrel. The Nationals are not over a barrel; however, through their incompetence, they have set a timer for the maximum amount of trade return. Although to be fair, for someone of Juan Soto’s pedigree, it is functionally impossible to come up with an even trade. To quote, the Nationals’ current predicament: they are going to trade the potential future winnings from that once-in-a-lifetime winning lottery ticket for … more lottery tickets?? (paywalled).
Any proposal that demands Tony Gonsolin or Gavin Lux is a non-starter in my view because if the Dodgers create a hole at second base, does that now mean that Mookie Betts is the new second baseman? That situation seems silly. Moreover, the trade is giving the Nationals Major League-ready pitching, which could be supplemented with the addition of either Michael Grove or Mitch White. It would stink to lose May and the other prospects, but trades like this one are why you part with young players. Sometimes they turn into Oneil Cruz, but that is a down-the-road problem, not a right-now problem.
The Nationals get immediate payroll relief and a solid core of three players that help their team now, plus a probable-future top of the rotation arms in May, once he returns to full strength and Pepiot.
Dustin May is the headliner of this package and he was where Gonsolin is now - finally cracking his true potential as a top-of-the-rotation starter. The Nationals already got their everyday catcher in Keibert Ruiz last year hence no reason to trade Diego Cartaya. Pepiot could probably start now, unlike Bobby Miller, but if the Nationals would want Miller instead of Pepiot, I could live with that swap. The trio of Pages, Busch, and Outman could serve as a young core that does not need to be rushed to the Majors. McKinstry and Alvarez would likely be starting on a bad team and playing more regularly on a less stacked team. In one fell swoop, the Nationals would restock their farm system and get everyday players while accelerating their rebuild by two to three years, while shedding two large contracts. Personally, I would give Soto what he wants to stay in Washington, but if the Nationals are moving on - well, like with The Cumberland Baseball Team and Freeman, their loss could (and probably should in this case) be the Dodgers' gain.
Moreover, this trade also has the ancillary benefit of improving the Dodgers without mortgaging the future and keeps Soto out of the hands of the Padres and the Giants. I do not think about the Giants or Padres very often, but I am mindful that other parts of the fanbase often do.
Agree? Disagree? Have ideas of your own? Then share them in the comments! No one is technically wrong about a potential trade until proven otherwise. Maybe you have a trade idea involving Cody Bellinger, Mitch White, Will Smith, and Michael Grove that you would like to share. Maybe you would trade Bellinger and White to Kansas City for Scott Barlow and Andrew Benintendi. Maybe nothing ends up happening at all. Maybe Juan Soto ends up as a Cardinal of some sort. That uncertainty is the fun at the heart of the Trade Deadline season.