Juan Soto To Yankees? Could (Or Would) New York Get Trade Done?

The Soto sweepstakes could be an absolute doozy


Jul 18, 2022

Get ready to hear a lot more about Juan Soto in the coming days and weeks.

The Washington Nationals slugger will take center stage in Los Angeles on Monday night as a participant in the MLB Home Run Derby. He’ll also come off the bench Tuesday night in the All-Star Game amid another brilliant season in Washington, D.C.

After that, though, Soto’s future becomes far less certain. The Nationals reportedly offered him a potentially history-making 15-year, $440 contract million extension earlier this summer. Soto turned it down, and Washington will now explore trading the 23-year-old superstar.

Soto is already one of the best players in the sport. The list of players who have been worth more wins above replacement since he debuted in 2018 is a short but illustrious one: Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Nolan Arenado and Alex Bregman. All but Trout (that he’s still second with by far the fewest games is too insane to not mention) and Bregman have played more games than Soto in that stretch.

Again, worth mentioning: Soto is just 23 years old. At this point in his career, the most similar batters through age-22 per Baseball-Reference’s similarity score are Trout, Frank Robinson, Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera and Mickey Mantle. Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr. also make appearances on that list.

He’s a freak and already one of the four or five best players in the game. That he’s only going to get better is almost frightening. As such, it’s no surprise he wants to bet on himself, and similarly, it’s hard to blame the Nats for trying to cash in their chips before they’re left with nothing.

Naturally, the conversation turns to which teams might be best positioned to acquire Soto. It will take a unique mix of valuable assets to make a deal with Washington as well as the financial might to sign Soto to what surely would be a record-breaking contract. If you’re going to sell the farm system, you’re going to want to be sure he’s in your uniform for a long time.

The list of teams that can do that is very small. Yet, as is always the case in these sorts of hypotheticals, the New York Yankees quickly take up a lot of the oxygen in the room. You’d have to believe Brian Cashman will be calling Mike Rizzo to see what it would take. In fact, according to one report, the Yankees sound willing to do just that.

According to one report, the Nationals seek at least four prospects and/or young big leaguers. The Nats, according to New York Post’s Jon Heyman, might use the deal to unload Patrick Corbin’s contract, too.

The aptly named BaseballTradeValues.com site is almost certainly breaking traffic records as we speak. The site has an extensive formula to set values for players (based on ability, contract, controllability, etc.) and lets users create hypothetical trades to see if the values match up. Soto is the third-most valuable player in the game behind Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. with a median value of 176.8.

The Yankees certainly could get to that number, but it obviously would come at quite a price. Anthony Volpe, the team’s top prospect and presumed Derek Jeter 2.0, is their most valuable piece and likely would have to be in a deal. Additionally, the Yankees might need to include Jasson Dominguez, nicknamed “The Martian” for his freakish size and build, in that package.

For those unfamiliar with Dominguez’s work, he did this in the Futures Game this weekend:

Even when including Corbin, which brings the Nationals’ trade package down to 121.90 on Baseball Trade Values, Dominguez and Volpe barely get you halfway there. So, go ahead and throw in Everson Pereira, Ken Waldichuk and Austin Wells in there, too. Oh, and if the Nationals need a big leaguer, Gleyber Torres might do the trick … maybe?

A willingness to take on all of that Corbin deal might actually skew the numbers a little bit here. Even without fully matching the value, New York might even get to keep one of those prospects for taking on the full money — again, maybe.

But if this six-for-two swap actually went down, the Yankees would be parting with five of their top seven prospects, per Baseball America.

Soto is under team control through the next two-plus seasons. As The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal pointed out, Soto’s agent is Scott Boras, who certainly prefers his clients test the market. Rosenthal casually mentions as $500 million as a starting point in free agency. Any team, including the Yankees, would be wise to do all they could to ensure it never gets to that point, especially if it costs you a handful of elite prospects.

It’s not completely unfounded, either. The Dodgers are the best example of this, trading for Mookie Betts when the outfielder was entering the final season of his contract and then extending him for likely the rest of his career. The difference, though, is Soto is a) younger than Betts, b) has more term left on his current deal and c) employs Boras.

That the calculus is so difficult even for a team like the Yankees — the biggest of big-market teams with a decent system — underscores just how big this could be for the Nationals, Soto and any other teams involved.

But as the Yankees prepare to potentially let Aaron Judge walk in his own free agency, replacing him with a 23-year-old left-handed bat probably isn’t the worst idea out there.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Ross/USA TODAY Sports Images
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