Trade winds are swirling around Juan Soto, as it still isn’t clear if the Nationals will deal the superstar outfielder prior to Tuesday’s 5pm CT trade deadline. The market continues to change on an hourly basis based on other deals, and certainly based on countless private discussions happening between front office executives around baseball, and yet Soto (MLBTR’s top trade candidate of deadline season) looms over everything. Certainly, some clubs will want to explore all possibility of acquiring Soto, yet waiting too long could leave that team empty-handed for other trade options if Soto goes elsewhere.
The Padres are widely seen as one of the top contenders to land Soto, and are apparently open to surrendering the type of huge prospect package it will take to get Washington’s attention. As per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Padres are “willing to discuss” such names as C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III, and Adrian Morejon with the Nationals. All three are or have been staples of top-100 prospect lists for the last few years, though Morejon has “graduated” from most prospect lists due to his MLB experience, and MLB Pipeline also removed Abrams from their list due to his 43 big league games played earlier this season.
Since the Nationals are known to be targeting younger, controllable players either already in the majors or on the cusp of their big league debuts, the Padres’ trio would seem to check those boxes. That said, it is quite likely that the Nats would want even more from the top tier of San Diego’s farm system (or from the active roster) in order to part with Soto, and the Padres could possibly have to up their offer in order to outbid other suitors.
For instance, the Cardinals also have a stockpile of young talent, and have also been mentioned as one of the favorites to land Soto. Dylan Carlson is a name on Washington’s radar, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the Nats “are fond of” the outfielder.
Carlson is only 23 and has already made a mark in the Show, delivering above-average production at the plate and strong defense (as both a center fielder and right fielder). The Nationals could be eyeing Carlson as their next outfield cornerstone, as the team would already be fairly certain that he could contribute right away, whereas players like Abrams, Hassell, or Morejon are still unproven at the MLB level.
On paper, the Cardinals would seemingly have the depth to move Carlson as part of a Soto deal, yet that would leave the Cards without a reliable center fielder. Harrison Bader is still on the 10-day injured list due to plantar fasciitis, and a setback will extend his stint for at least another few weeks, manager Oliver Marmol told Goold and other reporters. Bader won’t even be out of a protective right boot for another week or two, so while Carlson has capably filled in up the middle, St. Louis could also have to pivot to landing a center fielder in another deal if Carlson was moved. A makeshift combo of Lars Nootbaar and Tommy Edman in center, for instance, wouldn’t be an ideal option for a would-be contender.
As mentioned, other trades can drastically change the situation for multiple teams, and it appears as though two other potential Soto suitors are no longer involved. The Rays would’ve been something of an eyebrow-raising team to land Soto, yet the Nationals’ demands were “beyond their tolerance,” Joel Sherman of The New York Post writes. As such, the Rays eschewed the blockbuster route and instead landed David Peralta from the Diamondbacks earlier today. Yesterday’s acquisition of Luis Castillo would also seemingly take the Mariners out of the running for Soto, as Seattle dealt away a sizeable chunk of its prospect capital to obtain Castillo from the Reds.