Title: Potential Juan Soto Trade Sends Shockwaves Through Baseball
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Image credit: Juan Soto (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
In a surprising turn of events, the baseball world is once again abuzz with rumors of a potential Juan Soto trade. This marks the second time in just over a year that the star outfielder’s future hangs in the balance.
At 25 years old, Soto is projected to command a salary of $30 million or more in his final year of arbitration in 2024. The San Diego Padres, facing financial constraints following the collapse of Bally Sports San Diego and subsequent revenue losses, are now looking to trim their payroll by approximately 20% to $200 million. With a roster full of holes and eight players set to earn over $115 million collectively, trading Soto appears to be the most viable solution for the Padres to address both their financial needs and roster requirements.
However, the Padres are not willing to part ways with Soto without receiving significant talent in return. Padres president of baseball operations, A.J. Preller, has long been enamored with Soto and paid a hefty price to acquire him. The team remains committed to contending in 2024 and will only consider a trade if it makes sense from a baseball perspective, rather than solely a financial one.
The Padres have identified three key areas of need: starting pitching, first base, and center field. Any potential trade involving Soto must address one or more of these needs to be considered practical and acceptable to the team. Furthermore, the trade partner must be willing to pay a high price, despite Soto’s limited remaining time under team control. If these conditions are not met, the Padres are content to retain their prized outfielder.
Given the level of talent required to acquire Soto and the financial flexibility needed to accommodate his salary, only a handful of teams possess the necessary resources to pull off such a deal.
Here are five teams that realistically have the pieces and financial means to trade for Soto:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers:
While it seems unlikely due to the rivalry between the two teams, the Dodgers boast an impressive array of talent that could entice the Padres. With a deep pool of major league-ready young starters and promising prospects, the Dodgers could outmatch any other team’s offer if they choose to pursue Soto.
2. New York Yankees:
The Yankees tick all the boxes as a team with financial resources and a need for a impactful left-handed hitter. Their prospect talent, including top prospects who have reached Double-A or higher, aligns well with the Padres’ needs. A trade package involving some of these prospects could be highly compelling.
3. Seattle Mariners:
Having experienced three consecutive seasons with 88-plus wins, the Mariners have swiftly replenished their farm system. While certain players may be off-limits, they possess a wealth of talented young position players and pitchers who could form the core of a potential trade package for Soto.
4. Philadelphia Phillies:
Although limited in their offerings, the Phillies have enough pieces to strike a deal. While certain prospects may be untouchable, a trade centered around a young center fielder and a top pitching prospect could be enticing. The Phillies’ owner has shown a willingness to spend in pursuit of a championship, making them a potential contender.
5. San Francisco Giants:
Trading within the division is not ideal, but the Giants possess a select few players who align well with the Padres’ needs. While lacking in overall young talent, they have intriguing options such as a talented young left-hander and a promising center fielder. Including secondary pieces, the Giants could present a compelling offer if other teams fail to meet expectations.
Other teams, such as the Cubs, Red Sox, Mets, Orioles, Guardians, Brewers, and Rays, have the necessary talent but face payroll restrictions that make acquiring Soto highly unlikely.
As the trade rumors continue to swirl, it remains to be seen which team will ultimately secure the services of Juan Soto. One thing is certain: any team looking to acquire the young outfielder will need to meet the Padres’ demands and possess the financial means to make the deal a reality.