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Building more Dodgers Juan Soto trades, with help from the Trade Simulator

Or “An excuse for revisiting the Juan Soto essay, while sifting through the remains of what was once a pretty fun essay.”

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Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers
To be fair, I think even Juan Soto is getting tired of all the trade talk too.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Last time:

Michael would trade Zack McKinstry, among others, for Juan Soto and Patrick Corbin.

In the interim from last time, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has come out and has attempted to pour ice-cold water on everyone’s (who is not a Nationals’ fan) fun by stating that he will not dilute the value of Soto by attaching a bad contract. This statement means one of two things:

  1. Nothing, as he is lying, spinning the facts and no sane person would make this trade without a Corbin chaser.
  2. Everything, as Nationals’ ownership has finally realized trading Juan Soto is a pretty courageous move, using the classic British definition, meaning foolhardy, at best.

Do we know what is going to happen? Nope. Is that fact going to stop this essay? Nope. Is the fact that the Yankees have torpedoed my (allegedly) terrible trade idea involving Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Andrew Benintendi, Scott Barlow, and (indirectly) John Cazale going to stop this essay? Nope, but it came darn close.

Everyone went bananas over trade talk to a degree that made me a little sad for all my other essays. I wish you were this enthusiastic when I write about my usual stuff, including a gondola.

In the interim from last weekend to now, I learned about Baseball Trade Values in an interesting article from The Athletic (paywalled). We should visit and use BTV during trade time from now on. After spending a few afternoons with this software, I was thoroughly impressed and came up with various ideas that would theoretically work more often than I would think.

From the paywalled, The Athletic article:

Prospects present another challenge [to the software]. Baseball Trade Values relies on public evaluators for information on minor leaguers. Some evaluators are more plugged in than others. Some sites update almost daily, some annually. Bitzer and his staff — two analysts and an associate editor — comb through their rankings, aggregating opinions, and they adjust estimated trade values from there. It’s an inexact translation of the inexact science of scouting.

Now, the trade simulator has been accurate on 94.8 percent of real-life trades since its inception. Matt Olson to the Braves? Trade accepted. Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers? Fair deal. Nolan Arenado and $50 million to the Cardinals? Shockingly, yes. (Arenado, still owed $199 million after a down season in 2020, had an estimated trade value of $-43.7 million at the time.)

Head-shaking as a deal like the Arenado trade can be, it was a big win for Bitzer. His intent was to build a model that mimicked the valuation machines in MLB front offices, and in that case the Rockies — selling low to get out of a big contract — had a similar read of Arenado’s value.

[emphasis added.]

Woah. Whether one agrees with the software is another question, but if one has developed a model to at least mimic most-GM thinking, then it might be a fine tool to play around with come Trade Deadline time.

Given the accuracy of the software with the above track record, when the software gives a ruling, personally, it bears some weight. So what did the software have to say about my proposed trade from last time? (First, the max amount of people I could give was six, so I combined Alvarez and McKinstry for another Grade-A prospect in Gavin Stone since apparently, one cannot go full Herschel Walker in this software.)

Dodger received trade value: 121.90; Nationals received trade value: 120.80. Verdict: Not accepted by the software.
Even though the values are comparable, the software was not impressed.
Screenshot taken from

As an aside adding Corbin is not an absolute requirement to make the Soto trade work per the software. Adding Stephen Strasburg would make life easier but he’s already done for the year, and from what I understand, he has a full no-trade clause and would veto any trade. Therefore, the easiest way to get Soto is to have the Dodgers take the financial and pitching whammy that is Patrick Corbin, but remember what GM Rizzo said. However, if we take him at face value, there is no essay.

Corbin got lit up like a dead Christmas tree in January on Wednesday. Maybe the Dodgers can fix Corbin, maybe the Dodgers “Homer Bailey” him, maybe the Dodgers send Corbin back in time to fight Ivan Drago in a 1980s movie - who knows.

Personally, my enthusiasm for this “Juan Soto to the Dodgers” exercise is diminished exponentially if we believe the software as to one seemingly-ironclad assertion. Per the model, the software really, really wants Diego Cartaya traded to make a Juan Soto deal to the Dodgers happen. That assertion does not make sense to me because Keibert Ruiz still exists. He was literally traded last year and he is doing a pretty good job. I tried every permutation I could think of to get the software to agree with me, using Gonsolin/Lux/Miller/Vargas as the centerpiece in various combinations - no dice.

There is an exception to this Cartaya rule though, which you are not going to like at all. What is the rule, you ask? Per the model, in order for the Dodgers to get Soto and they do not want to give Cartaya, then they have to trade Will Smith. Yes, that Will Smith.

Dodgers received value: 121.90. Nationals received value: 117.70 (Will Smith and Andy Pages). Verdict: Trade accepted.
Trade Will Smith?!? Madness...madness...
Screenshot taken from

I can see that thread of logic, but bringing up Cartaya to the majors to be the everyday catcher in the middle of a pennant run when he has never left High-A ball seems like a terribly reckless, terribly shortsighted, A.J. Preller-esque idea. I am not interested. You should not be interested.

So I shan't keep you in suspense for much longer, let’s figure out a potential trade using the software.

Using Baseball Trade Values for a trade of Juan Soto (and Patrick Corbin).

Do the Dodgers have to trade every blue-chip prospect in the system to get Juan Soto? Common wisdom says yes, but per the software, the answer is actually no. Would you believe me if I said that move would be a moderate overpay for Soto per the software (with the aforementioned Corbin chaser)?

Dodgers trade value: 121.90. Nationals trade value: 151.40. Verdict: Trade accepted, but moderate overpay by the Dodgers.
No need to empty the farm of the cream.
Screenshot taken from

In fact, there are many hypothetical trades that would work. One such example is that the Dodgers would get Corbin, Soto, and Nationals minor leaguer Millas in exchange for Diego Cartaya, Max Muncy, Andy Pages, and Michael Busch.

Dodgers trade value: 123.70. Nationals trade value: 112.80. Verdict: Trade accepted.
The usual suspects with one addition as a proof of concept.
Screenshot taken from

Max Muncy was included as a hypothetical inclusion because Muncy and positivity have not been two words used together recently. Moreover, I have not heard his name mentioned in part of any trade talks.

What if I told you I could propose a trade that would be theoretically acceptable to everyone and the cream of the Dodgers system would stay intact, obviously sans Cartaya? Under this proposal, Smith stays, Gonsolin stays, Lux stays, Miller stays, Vargas stays, Busch stays, and Bruns stays.

Jacob Amaya, Gavin Stone, Ryan Pepiot, Phil Bickford, Jose Ramos, and Phil Bickford for Juan Soto and Patrick Corbin.
We could call it the Phil Bickford trade.
Screenshot taken from

Is it a certainty that the Dodgers would even offer this deal? No.

Is it a certainty that the Nationals would accept this deal? No.

Is it possible that the move would backfire? Of course. Maybe Soto turns into Anthony Rendon. Maybe the traded prospects make the Dodgers rue their decision a la Yordan Alvarez. Or maybe everybody wins. Or maybe Juan Soto ends up as a Cardinal or Padre.

Agree? Disagree? Have ideas of your own? Then share them in the comments! As I said last time, no one is technically wrong about a potential trade until proven otherwise. Maybe nothing ends up happening at all. I promise that I am done with this topic after this essay; I really do want to get back to that essay about the gondola.