Entering the 2022 Major League Baseball season, one of the last names anyone expected to come up in trade rumors prior to the August 2 trade deadline was Washington Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto. Now, with the All-Star break upon us, he's the talk of the town — and not just because he conquered the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium.
Soto reportedly rejected a 13-year, $440-million contract extension from the Nationals, which has spurred the franchise to suddenly be more willing to entertain trade offers for the two-time All-Star.
Here's a look at the betting odds on where Soto will be playing after the August 2 trade deadline.
Juan Soto next team odds
|New York Mets||+400|
|New York Yankees||+500|
|San Francisco Giants||+550|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||+600|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+600|
|St. Louis Cardinals||+700|
|Boston Red Sox||+900|
|San Diego Padres||+1,200|
|Chicago White Sox||+1,400|
|Los Angeles Angels||+1,400|
Odds as of July 19, 2022.
One of the most exciting young talents in baseball, Soto won't turn 24 until October and isn't slated to hit free agency until after the 2024 season. He made his MLB debut in 2018 as a 19-year-old, something that rarely happens these days.
Juan Soto is 23 years old.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 18, 2022
12 players named to this year's Futures Game rosters are younger than him.
This is one reason the baseball industry is in a frenzy today over the Soto trade possibility. @MLBNetwork @MLB
He's also younger than Baltimore Orioles rookie Adley Rutschman, who was recently considered the top overall prospect in baseball. Soto is an on-base machine with advanced plate coverage and substantial power. He has a career slash line of .293/.427/.541 with 118 home runs in 555 games, has won a batting title, and finished as a runner-up in MVP voting just last year. He's also recorded more walks (452) than strikeouts (406).
And now, it's looking more like a proposition of "when" and not "if" he gets dealt by the deadline.
.@Buster_ESPN just said on TV that rival executives expect Juan Soto to be traded in the next 15 days.— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) July 19, 2022
It's rare that a player of his youth and caliber gets dealt at this stage of their career, with one relatively recent analog perhaps being when the Marlins traded a 24-year-old Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007. But that came in December, and not in the middle of the season.
What will it cost to acquire Soto?
Remember, Soto is technically under team control until after the 2024 season, meaning the Nationals do not have to force a trade this summer if it doesn't materialize. The star outfielder doesn't have leverage, so he can't really force the team's hand to move him, either. Not even his agent, Scott Boras, can make that happen if the offers aren't up to snuff.
The Nationals won the World Series in 2019 with Soto playing a huge role. He hit .333 with three home runs and seven RBI in the seven-game series against the Houston Astros. The Nats won, but the competition window immediately slammed shut. All-Star infielder Anthony Rendon signed a lucrative deal with the Angels — a year removed from Bryce Harper jumping to the Phillies — and despite bringing back starter Stephen Strasburg, the Nats have missed the postseason in each of the last two seasons.
We can look at what came next as something of a precursor to a Soto trade. With 2021 a completely lost cause by the trade deadline, Washington sold off most of its key player assets, the most notable being Max Scherzer and Trea Turner, whom the team sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Geraldo Carrillo, and Donovan Casey, the latter two of whom have not yet reached MLB.
We can expect Soto to bring back a more substantial haul. Scherzer was a free agent after last season and Turner will be one after 2022. With two more guaranteed years attached to Soto and the likelihood of an extension following, the Nats will ask for several top-level prospects — while also attaching another expiring contract (Josh Bell) or underperforming/overpaid one (Patrick Corbin) to the deal.
Juan Soto next team favorites
New York Mets (+400)
Ignoring for a moment that they play in the same division as the Nationals, which could complicate a deal if Washington GM Mike Rizzo doesn't want to constantly be reminded of how great Soto is for the next decade-plus, the Mets could be a player in the Soto sweepstakes.
New York's farm system has some impressive players — notably catcher Francisco Alvarez, infielder/outfielder Brett Baty, shortstop Ronny Mauricio, and outfielder Alex Ramirez, all of whom are within MLB.com's Top 100 prospects ranking — but it's relatively thin on the whole. Acquiring Soto would likely require most, if not all, of those names in addition to taking over the remaining money on Patrick Corbin's deal ($59 million over the next two seasons).
But this is Steve Cohen we're talking about here. The owner has been aggressive since purchasing the team, pushing for the acquisition and extension of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland as his first major splash. He followed that up by signing Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha while trading for Chris Bassitt this past offseason.
If there's any owner who would be willing to empty the prospect cupboard and subsequently open his pocketbook to a record-breaking extension, it's Cohen.
And, for what it's worth, Soto loves playing at Citi Field.
Juan Soto says he loves playing against the Mets in New York at Citi Field:— SNY (@SNYtv) July 18, 2022
"I love to play against them and hit the ball far. If you've seen my numbers at that field, it's amazing." pic.twitter.com/XEfz4Jijpi
New York Yankees (+500)
Both the Mets and Yankees are expected to pursue a Soto trade, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. So if the Mets ultimately balk at the asking price or Mike Rizzo elects not to deal within the division, Soto's path to New York City may go through the Bronx.
And it wouldn't be out of the question for the Nationals to require two, if not all, of the Yankees' top three prospects: shortstop Anthony Volpe, shortstop Oswald Peraza, and 19-year-old outfielder Jasson Dominguez.
The Yankees haven't won — or appeared in — a World Series since 2009. Acquiring Soto to pair alongside Aaron Judge would potentially cement the Bronx Bombers as overwhelming favorites to win the Fall Classic this season.
That said, Judge is a free agent after this season and talks — like with Soto in D.C. — stalled. Like Soto, Judge rejected extension overtures this year. Obviously, the Yankees could swing lucrative extensions for both players of this magnitude, but there will be work to do to ensure it's not just two-plus months of Judge and Soto patrolling the Yankee Stadium outfield together.
San Francisco Giants (+550)
This one's a head-scratcher. While the Giants do have a number of attractive prospects like Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison, and Luis Matos — among others — their system isn't exactly heralded. Baseball America, for instance, didn't list the Giants as one of the 10 teams best-equipped to pull off a trade for Soto.
Soto would certainly change the landscape of a Giants team clinging to postseason aspirations in a crowded NL West, but will Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi be this aggressive on the trade front and be subsequently willing to pony up? The biggest contract the Giants have ever issued was the eight-year, $159-million deal given to Buster Posey in 2013. It's going to cost substantially more to keep Soto around.
It could happen, but it seems counterintuitive to how San Francisco does things. If there was ever a player to buck a trend for, though...
Los Angeles Dodgers (+600)
Oh look, the Dodgers still have a remarkable farm system even after a number of trades over the last few years all while remaining a constant World Series odds favorite.
No team is perhaps better positioned to target a Soto trade based solely on its prospect capital. The Dodgers have more Top-100 prospects than any other team, and Baseball America had them listed as the best trade partner for Washington to deal with. Catcher Diego Cartaya, pitchers Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot, infielders Michael Busch and Miguel Vargas, and outfielder Andy Pages are all options.
And unlike the Yankees' prospect chips, the Dodgers' are closer to MLB-ready with the exception of Cartaya. Busch, Pepiot, and Vargas could all be called up imminently if there was room, which there would be in D.C. And the Nats could also ask for current big-league players in the deal as well to help expedite the rebuild.
Every team has an algorithm that assigns a dollar value to a player. These numbers from @BaseballValues are one example of those. Cannot imagine the Dodgers would do a deal like this. But it gives you a sense of just how much talent the Nationals would look to reap for Juan Soto. pic.twitter.com/53GknQWV4b— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 16, 2022
With Trea Turner a free agent, the Dodgers could then shift attention to extending Soto while letting the speedy infielder walk. Or, of course, sign them both. They're the Dodgers, after all.
Toronto Blue Jays (+600)
Also among the top matches for Soto, per Baseball America, the Blue Jays may have to get a little creative. BA suggests any deal would have to include one of Alejandro Kirk, Alek Manoah, or Bo Bichette, which seems unlikely.
But the Blue Jays' front office hasn't been afraid of trading away top-ranked talent from its prospect pool. Just last summer, the Jays dealt Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson to the Minnesota Twins for Jose Berrios before later extending the right-hander for $131 million over seven years.
The Blue Jays have largely disappointed in 2022 after entering the season with World Series hopes. Soto would help fix that while also addressing the lack of left-handed hitting in the lineup. Toronto's most glaring need is in the rotation, but if there's an opportunity to land a player of Soto's caliber, it's worth kicking the tires.
Other teams mentioned as being interested besides a general "all of them" include the St. Louis Cardinals (+700), Seattle Mariners (+750), and San Diego Padres (+1,200). The Cardinals are of note due to an extremely deep farm system led by third baseman Jordan Walker, who may not have a clear path to playing time as long as Nolan Arenado is on the roster.
If Soto gets traded, it will be the story of the MLB summer. Almost every team will be lining up to at least submit an offer.