Juan SotoThe presence of in the commercial market has, in many ways, dampened activity in other areas. Teams like the Cardinals and Padres, generally considered two of Soto’s top contenders, are also involved in the starting pitch market. But, both are surely leery of dealing with prospects to acquire a starter (e.g. Oakland’s Frankie Montas) if those same players could possibly be used to untie Soto from Washington.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan takes a long look at the stalemate Soto has created, writing that the Yankees are at best a “long shot” to make a play for Soto before the deadline and suggesting that the Rangers, for now, are not a top bidder . This accords with recent reporting by Jon Heyman of the New York Post, who wrote last night that there was “no pull” between the Yankees and Nationals regarding Soto, even though the Yankees reached out as recently as last night. Heyman adds that the Nationals are not as top of the line Antoine Volpe as are the Yankees and many other clubs, complicating talks.
The Padres and Cardinals are the most often suggested fits for Soto, and with good reason, as both are winning clubs with deep farm systems that could offer the mix of top prospects and controllable big leaguers the Nationals are looking for. Passan suggests the Dodgers are “hiding,” however, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also wrote this morning that the Dodgers have maintained talks with the Nats and should not be ruled out as a potential landing spot. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale goes even further, Tweeter that it’s actually the Dodgers — not the Cardinals or the Padres — who have made the most aggressive offers for Soto of late.
The Mariners, another regularly speculated candidate for Soto, don’t seem likely to land him at this point. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto told The Athletic’s Jim Bowden that when he inquired about Soto, he came away feeling like there was no realistic path for him. to acquire (Twitter link). Presumably this happened before Seattle Friday acquisition of Luis Castillo – which cost the Mariners their two best prospects.
The Mets were also speculatively listed as trading partners of the Nats. This is largely due to the team’s huge payroll and an aggressive last year under new owner Steve Cohen. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Mets believed “pretty quickly in the process” that there would be such a large market for Soto that Washington would not have to consider trading him to a division rival. That certainly appears to be the case, although if the Nats covet the Mets’ top prospects, there’s at least a slim chance something will happen; both Sherman and SNY’s Andy Martino Report that the Mets would only move their best prospects if they acquired Soto or (an even longer shot) Shohei Ohtani. Both reports suggest that the receiver Francisco Alvarez is forbidden unless it is for Soto or Ohtani. Sherman adds a third baseman Brett Baty to this list, and Martino suggests the third baseman Marc Vientos is seen in the same way.
Regardless of whether Soto specifically changes hands, the market will break out between today and tomorrow’s 6pm ET deadline. The countdown will eventually lead teams to activity, and given the lack of movement so far, we could be in for one of the busiest and most chaotic 24-30 hour periods we have. never seen.