The game is on for Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto, who turned down his team’s 15-year, $440 million offer over the weekend to grease the trade wheels into motion.
It remains to be seen if Nats general manager Mike Rizzo will deal the 23-year-old in the next two weeks ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline — especially considering he’s under team control for two more years and could wait until the perfect offer comes to his desk.
But the more time goes by won’t coax teams into giving up a king’s ransom for less control of Soto before making him the richest man in baseball ahead of the 2025 season.
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Regardless, here are five teams that could make a run at Soto in the next couple weeks:
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
Every single big-name free agent and trade target at some point or another has been linked to the Dodgers over the last few seasons — and they’ve come away with a number of them, too. A team that isn’t afraid to spend and flush with prospects, an outfield featuring Soto and Mookie Betts would be the envy of baseball for the next decade.
What names would start trade conversations?: Diego Cartaya, C (MLB’s No. 13 prospect); Bobby Miller, RHP (No. 27)
2) New York Yankees
The major elephant in the room of such hypotheticals is what would happen to Aaron Judge? The slugger is having an MVP-caliber season and is going to hit free agency this winter. The Yankees will surely want to re-sign him while paying the massive contracts of Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole — or they try to bring in Soto and let Judge walk, which would provide enough drama to fuel MLB for a year.
What names would start trade conversations?: Anthony Volpe, SS (No. 8); Oswaldo Peraza, SS (No. 38); Jasson Dominguez, C (No. 39)
3) Texas Rangers
The Rangers already showed a willingness to flash some serious cash when they brought on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien for half-a-billion dollars. If they want to compete in the AL West and keep up with Houston Astros, this is a franchise-altering move.
What names would start trade conversations?: Jack Leiter, RHP (No. 16); Josh Lung, 3B (No. 30); Ezequiel Duran, IF (No. 56)
4) New York Mets
The Mets will have to deal with an extra tax if they do pursue Soto just because of their standing as divisional rivals with the Nationals, so Billy Eppler would have to blow the doors off of Rizzo’s office in DC to garner consideration. Considering the prospects they have, it could happen. They also have the funds to take a big contract like Patrick Corbin’s albatross off the Nationals’ books.
What names would start trade conversations?: Francisco Alvarez, C (No. 2); Brett Baty, 3B/OF (No. 20); Ronny Mauricio, SS (No. 52)
5) San Diego Padres
The first question obviously is where the money would come from to keep Soto for the long-haul, but that shouldn’t completely count San Diego out. GM AJ Preller was heavy on bringing Soto on to San Diego before signing with Washington in amateur free agency.
What names would start trade conversations?: Robert Hassell, OF (No. 23); Luis Campusano, C (No. 53)