5:16PM: The Nationals want “four to five top young players” for Soto, Ken Rosenthal said during a FOX Sports interview today. This “monstrous ask” consists of star prospects and/or players who have only recently made their MLB debuts, and thus are under control for several years. Given the size of this expected trade package, “at this point….it’s not really a negotiation. The Nationals are saying ‘either you express a willingness to meet our price, or we just go to the next club,’ ” Rosenthal said.
As an example, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that if the Giants were to bid for Soto, the Nats would want left-handed pitching prospect Kyle Harrison back as part of the return. Harrison was the Giants’ third-round pick in the 2020 draft, and his great 2022 numbers have elevated him in midseason prospect rankings — Baseball America has Harrison rated 22nd on their latest list of baseball’s top 100 minor leaguers, while MLB Pipeline has him 25th .
11:20AM: The possibility of a Juan Soto trade has dominated MLB headlines for the past week, but the Nationals haven’t been impressed with the offers they’ve seen so far, per the Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli. Finding a suitable trade package for a well-decorated 23-year-old superstar is complicated enough, but the Nationals’ ownership situation adds another confounding wrinkle.
With current owners, the Lerner family, looking increasingly likely to sell the club, the desires of any new potential owner have to be considered in any Soto deal, as well. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, some potential buyers would prefer to have Soto on the roster. Given that Soto is by far the Nats’ best baseball asset, it’s not surprising that a new ownership group would want him in the organization.
It’s hard to imagine that the club would be more attractive to potential buyers without Soto on the roster. There is the possibility of a new ownership group preferring a clean slate while letting the Lerners take the public relations hit that will come with dealing the team’s most popular star. Still, despite all the trade hubbub, it would not at all be shocking to see Soto still on the payroll when the Lerners find a buyer. A new owner would still be able to trade Soto with two full years of team control remaining, even if that sale doesn’t happen until the offseason.
So long as the possibility of a deal remains viable, teams will continue to check in with Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo. The Yankees are Mets are two of the foremost contenders for Soto. The Yankees are the most likely destination, however, given the Nats’ understandable reticence to deal Soto to a division contender, notes Andy Martino of sny.tv. The Nationals already have to live with former stars Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer in the same division. Nationals fans would certainly not be thrilled to face off with Harper and Soto within the division for the next decade. The Mets can’t be crossed off the list, but they should be counted as long-shots for now.