Let’s preface this by saying that yes, we understand that this is never going to happen….. but it’s the All-Star break and the Cincinnati Reds are 23 games under .500, so we should try to have some fun while we can. Juan Soto reportedly turned down a large contract extension for 15 years and $440,000,000 from the Washington Nationals. While that total amount of money is enormous, on an average salary basis it would be less than $30,000,000 a year, which when we consider how good he is right now, the current salaries of the top players in the game, and the continued growth of MLB revenues, it feels like it’s an insultingly low offer. The Nationals, according to at least one report, will make one more offer and if Soto turns it down, they will look to trade him.

That begs the question of what exactly it would take to acquire Juan Soto? We’re talking about a 23-year-old 2-time All-Star who has already led the league in hitting, on-base percentage (twice), and slugging percentage. He’s played in five seasons – including this one – and he’s posted an OPS over .900 in each of them. Soto won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season, so you would be acquiring him for the rest of 2022, all of 2023, and all of 2024.

To acquire Juan Soto, even if it means you aren’t sure if you can extend him, would require as one person put it, “A Herschel Walker” trade. For those who are unfamiliar with that, Walker was once traded for three 1st round picks, three 2nd round picks, a 3rd round pick, a 6th round pick, and four players (going the other way was Walker, two 3rd round picks, a 5th round pick, and a 10th round pick). It was the blockbuster of all blockbuster trades.

Teams in baseball can’t really trade draft picks (a very select few are tradable, but they are rarely traded and unlike in the NFL or NBA, they aren’t nearly as valuable). That means in baseball teams tend to have to trade minor league prospects or young big leaguers.

At my old age of *checks notes* 38-years-old, it’s tough for me to recall a team trading away a player as good as Juan Soto at such a young age. That makes it tough to really look back and see what past precedent is.

Put yourself in the fancy chair of Nick Krall, and pretend that you’ve got the backing of ownership that if you can acquire Juan Soto that they will spend money on the big league roster to try and compete for the following two seasons. What’s the best off you are making to the Nationals?

I’d imagine that any package would start with probably two of Elly De La Cruz, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Tyler Stephenson, and Jonathan India. And then you’d have to add from there to build a package.

59 Responses

  1. Luke J

    Well that sounds fun. I can see it now, it would just be Juan Soto standing by himself in the field without even a pitcher to throw the ball since they traded away the whole roster. LOL

    • Tom Reeves

      If they traded the entire roster, they wouldn’t get Juan Soto. They’d have to trade everyone except Moose and Votto. So it would just be the three of them covering the field. Fortunately, Moose and Votto have exceptional range… LOL

  2. KG

    And we’d still be better than we are now. 🙂

  3. Gary

    That’s good food for fodder, I guess, and even that is a stretch of the wildest imagination. But it would be interesting to see in Great American Small Park. There are three things for certain. Castellini And Son either cannot or will not pay out that kind of salary, Soto would probably not even consider playing for this pitiful franchise under current ownership/management, and most likely Soto would not end up being another Yasiel Puig.

    • JaxDan

      Come on. You need to throw in more players. I would add Moose, Strickland, Aquino and Friedl.

  4. Zach

    Fun exercise!

    If we start with 2 of the 5 listed above, I’d offer either Tyler Stevenson or India with Lodolo. With the state of the franchise, you have to look long term. Will they even be good again before Stevenson enters Arbitration? Is his long term position 1st instead of catcher? And India is great but will the glut of shortstops near the top of prospects rankings make it so that one of them can move to 2nd which would potentially cover the lose of India?
    Lodolo, similarly, has a slightly less upside than Greene. I personally think he could be a potential all star but if Greene puts it altogether, he’s franchise altering.
    I think you’d need at least 1 more high end piece and a couple lottery tickets. That means I’d include one of the young shortstops. McClain is the highest rated after De La Cruz so you include him. And Petty is the 3rd best pitching prospect right now (behind Lodolo and Williamson) so he gets included. Then you need to add 1 more piece. Maybe Callahan or Hinds? 2 guys with power who are young.
    Would India, Lodolo, McClain, Petty, and Callahan get it done?
    What would the 2024 Reds look like if you made that trade? Would it be worth it to give away at least 1 piece of the rotation and 2 projected starters, one which reasonably you could see as an all star by that point?

    • Michael E

      Have to think De La Cruz is a must, as is Lodolo (though I am sure they’d want Greene instead), Stephenson and probably Matt Martin and Rece Hinds or other top 10 player. They’ll want 4 of our top 5 prospects basically and one more high upside flier. We’d have a barren farm system for a couple of years but the top LH hitter in baseball. Not sure how that would play out. The payroll would need to spike up north of $150 million to be a real contender.

      All that said, when you noted it might be a few years, well, that negates Soto wanting to extend, so we’d have a darn good two year rental with tradability, provided he doesn’t do the Reds favorite thing and get injured. I doubt Soto would trust management if they promised to raise payroll. Would any of us? Maybe an opt-out each year would be necessary to get him to sign? That would leave the Reds with little certainty of the future though.

  5. west larry

    It’s fun to dream, so while we are fixated in fantasy, I would offer Castillo, Mahle, Fiaz, India and one of our shortstop prospects,

  6. Doc

    Obviously not much to write about during the AS break and MLB draft.

    • Doug Gray

      Not bored at all. Sometimes it’s fun to suspend reality and just talk weird baseball.

    • Earmbrister

      Yes, a 2 for 1 deal, straight up.

  7. Indy Red Man

    4 guys, a van, a taser, duct tape, and Soto’s home address

    • Jimbo44CN

      This one makes the most sense, Hmmm

  8. Rednat

    thanks Doug. this was fun. most depressing all star break i can recall in a long time. We may break the 1982 record for most losses. 2023 may be even worse without Castillo and Mahle. more fantasy articles please! lol

  9. MK

    Sure they have the player to acquire but not the money to keep him.

  10. Scott C

    I would not trade De La Cruz or Stephenson, and I would keep at least one of Greene or Lodolo. Other than that I think any package should not be off the table. Let’s proffer Greene, Senzel, and two minor leaguers how about Friedl and Aquino.

    • JayTheRed

      Click! That’s the sound of Washington hanging up on you.
      This offer doesn’t get close to what we would have to give up.

  11. JohnnyTV

    Any trade, no matter who Reds included, would require Washington to take Krall and Bell and a Castellini-To-Be-Named-Later.

    Otherwise: deal off.

  12. Votto4life

    Seriously, any team trying to obtain him should be very cautious. What happens if you empty your farm for him and he is unwilling to sign an extension? Maybe the Dodgers could pull it off, but it would be a big gamble for most other teams.

    Soto has already turned down close to a half of billion dollars. I think he is determined to become a free agent in a couple of years.

    • Votto4life

      only way Soto would sign with the Reds is if they make him majority owner and maybe not even then.

      • JB

        How about if they make him head manager of the grocery Store?

  13. BK

    First, if you pursue Soto, it’s because you believe you can be very competitive before he leaves as a free agent. So, India, Stephenson, our rookie starting pitchers, etc. must be retained. Also, Castillo and Mahle are no longer on the market. With that in mind, I would propose:

    – Reds get, Soto and Strasburg (owed about $152M over the next 4+ years)
    – Nats get, SS De La Cruz, SS Barrero, RHP Roa, RHP Bonnin, and IF/DH Moustakas (owed ~$28M over the next 1+ seasons)

    I don’t think we have the prospect capitol to pull this off without taking on Strasburg’s contract. I don’t think we’re competitive if we trade from the best rookies/sophomores on the roster. I’m not sure the Reds can afford this roster, even if we were to move Moustakas as part of the return to the Nats.

    • BK

      I’ll add, given that there is zero chance the Reds sign him, I’m opposed. Draft, sign and develop talent and supplement with free agents/trades. Shoot to compete or our division every year. That’s the recipe I’d like to see followed.

  14. JB

    From what I hear from my “Sources” the deal is close. The Reds are demanding Sean Doolittle to be added on with Soto or trade is voided. Do the Reds have enough to make that trade for the addition of Doolittle? I don’t know , but if they do get Doolittle , DJ has got to get him going. Soto? He is only 23. Reds will send him to Louisville until he is “ready”. Bell has got to play his veterans.

  15. Hanawi

    I’d do Greene, India, McClain, and Williamson. That would probably get you in the door. But, then you’d have to extend Soto for $500 million.

  16. Bet on red

    All right for the sake of fantasy, and with no pre agreed extension ala Sonny Gray, I would send Berreros, Castillo, Ashcraft, and two top 15 prospects. Washington can flip Castillo to a third part for prospects, but the lack of an extension means I am keeping the core players intact.

  17. LDS

    I wouldn’t include EDLC in any of the packages nor Stephenson. Castillo, Mahle, Senzel, and 3 or 4 of the Friedl, Drury, Naquin, Aquino, McClain, Fairchild, India, etc. Keep the pitching prospects, EDLC, Stephenson, and a few others. Offer him $30million/year on extension with an ownership stake vesting 1%/year over say 15 years. Maybe 2% for every year that he hits certain benchmarks. If he stays healthy over the course of the contract, he makes about $450 million and comes out owning 15-30% of the Reds. Seriously though, a trade for Soto sounds far too expensive for nearly everyone. But as much as I learn from reading Doug’s posts, this is probably the funniest article I’ve seen from him. MBE has some competition this week.

  18. west larry

    Off topic, have the reds signed any of their draft picks yet? I’ve noticed several teams have signed at least one of their picks.

  19. Bob Purkey

    Doug: What are you smokin’?

    Bob going to pay that contract? Even Bob learned something from the Votto contract, as difficult as that is to be believed. . .

  20. Optimist

    Here you go Doug – “At my old age of *checks notes* 38-years-old, it’s tough for me to recall a team trading away a player as good as Juan Soto at such a young age.”

    December 1919, Babe Ruth was “purchased by the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox for $100,000.” Adjusted for inflation – about $2,000,000.

    Q.E.D.

  21. docproc

    Four players:
    –Choose one: India or Senzel
    –Choose one: Ashcraft or Lodolo
    –Choose two: Williamson or Petty or Abbott or Phillips
    Hustle EDLC through the system and have him in the same lineup with Soto for two seasons. That would be fun to watch.

  22. AMDG

    The Nationals finished 65-97 last year with Soto.

    This year the Nationals are on pace for a 53-109 season with Soto.

    This isn’t the NBA where 1 player turns around a franchise, or an NFL QB who can do the same.

    If the Reds traded away anything they have resembling talent for Soto, they would likely be just as awful with Soto as the Nationals are.

    • Votto4life

      I agree. Soto only makes sense for teams that are positioned to win now.

      I am in favor of players getting all the money they can get. If Teams couldn’t afford these contracts, they wouldn’t offer them.

      Having said that however, I can’t conceive any player being worth $440,000,000. It will be a huge risk for any team. The Dodgers seem to be in the best position, in terms of prospects and financial resources. But do they need to take that risk? They are going to win whether they have Juan Soto or not.

      • AMDG

        I agree, the trade would only make sense for a team with a window to win now.

        If Soto provides 5 WAR, a team pushing for a playoff spot can surely use 5 more wins.

        And they can hope having a better quality player (like Soto) will result in him providing playoff production.

        But a 60-win team who adds a 5 WAR guy is still going to miss the playoffs.

  23. Mark Moore

    Some very interesting responses. Very creative. Nice diversion. Thanks for that, Doug.

  24. Votto4life

    There are only few teams that could afford to extend Soto. The other teams would be foolish to trade for Soto, just to see him walk in a couple of years.

    I suspect he will be traded to
    1) Dodgers
    2) Cardinals
    3) Mets
    4) Yankees
    5) Padres (long shot)

    I hope he isn’t traded to the Cardinals, but they have a knack for getting something like this done.

    • Mike

      Can’t see the Cards here. They got away with giving depth to get Goldy and Arenado. This would cost them all their best prospects, just to see Soto walk in 2 years. Not to mention they’re going to need money for at least two free agent pitchers. A Soto-type deal just isn’t how they operate

    • jmb

      I hear the Mets are the favorites. And Boston may just pull off a stunner, though they need Castillo more than they do Soto. But I wouldn’t say that the Padres are “long shots.”

  25. Nick in NKY

    I think when Soto gets dealt, a lot of people are going to be surprised by how light the package is going to be. Not to say that it won’t be a big deal, obviously Soto is game changing, but he can’t win it all by himself.

    If we assume that Soto can’t make a deal with the Nats, by his turning down the amount of total value offered to him, he’s basically priced himself out of reach for all but a handful of teams. No GM is going to send the farm in exchange for Soto without an extension in hand, so who’s left that would be willing to risk both the prospect future and the financial future all on one guy. Even big market teams with more money than God still pay attention to the books. Unless there’s more to it than money, which is very possible, it seems like there’s only a handful of places to land.

    Thinking offhand here:

    The Yankees owe Cole a ton of money already. Stanton too (?). Certainly they can’t trade for Soto and retain Judge. Would they be all in on Soto?

    Dodgers already have two MVPs in the outfield, and Freeman in the infield. Would they see Soto as necessary enough to empty the farm?

    Philly owes Harper a pile of money, and they already have bat first outfielders locked up.

    Boston is wavering on paying Devers and Bogaerts, would they go all in on Soto?

    Rangers already tied up Seager and Semien (sp?) for long deals. Would they?

    Anaheim could sign him, and then they could have 100 million a year tied up in 3 players. Can’t see that happening.

    Cubs and Astros could conceivably sign him long term with their current situations, couldn’t they? Soto sure isn’t ending up in Cleveland, Pitt, or Tampa.

    I’m probably off a little on my recollections here, but it still seems to me like the trade of the century may not be. YMMV.

    • Votto4life

      I think the Cardinals could be the team.

  26. Oldtimer

    Trade A.

    Team trades OF who averaged 32 HR and 101 RBI over the prior 10 years. In return, they get SP who averaged 14-9 with 3.24 ERA over the prior 8 years. They get RP who averaged 8-7 with 3.18 ERA and 12 saves over the prior 5 years. They get young OF who averaged 24 HR and 72 RBI over the prior 4 years in minors.

    Trade B

    Team trades INF who averaged 26 HR and 104 RBI over the prior 10 years, along with RP who averaged 3-3 with 3.64 ERA and 8 saves over the prior 3 years. In return, they get SP who averaged 11-12 with close to 4.0 ERA over the prior 11 years and RP who averaged 7-6 with less than 3.0 ERA and 11 saves over the prior 3 years.

    Trade A is Frank Robinson. Trade B is Tony Perez. Reds got NO ONE in either trade who contributed greatly to Reds success.

    Robinson played 9 more years at comparable level of play. Perez played 4 more years like his best years.

    My point is that you rarely get good value trading for superstar players. Robinson and Perez are HOF-ers. None of the others in those trades are (nor will they ever be) HOF-ers.

    • Votto4life

      If the Nationals are willing to pay him $440,000,000 for 15 years, why not just offer him $400,000,000 for 10 years. He will be past his prime by that point anyway.

    • Votto4life

      I think the Ken Griffey Jr. trade was an exception to that rule, but yeah in most cases, the team trading the Super Star comes out with the short end of the stick.

      • Oldtimer

        Arguably, Mike Cameron and Ken Griffey, Jr had comparable success over 10 years from 2000 through 2009 seasons. Griffey’s injuries made it closer than it should have been.

        Brett Tomko was so-so for a few years. The two Reds minor leaguers in the trade didn’t do much either.

      • Votto4life

        Oldtimer yeah, I remember the Mariners wanted Pokey Reese but Bowden refused to include him in the trade.

        I can only remember two or three big trades for the Reds in my lifetime.

        The trade with Houston that brought us Joe Morgan. The Tom Sever trade. I really didn’t what the Reds to include Steve Henderson in that deal Lol. The Vida Blue trade that was nixed by Bowie Kuhn. Can you imagine Tom Seaver, Vida Blue and the Reds offense? I really think Sparky Anderson would not have been fired if the Reds had That deal went through in 1978.

        One other famous trade that never happened was when Charlie Finley offered the Bob Howsman a million dollars for Johnny Bench in 1970. Finley even handed Howsman a check for $1,000,000. Gratefully, Howsman passed on that offer.

  27. Magnum 44

    I remember about 5 years ago it was Rasiel Iglesias……but we didn’t pull the trigger.

  28. Rednat

    the 2 biggest acquisitions the reds have ever had by free agency and trade in recent memory were Dave Parker and Griffey Junior. Both of course were from Cincinnati. I would assume our next acquired major star will have some connection to the area as well. Kyle Schwarber maybe? i just can’t imagine a big name star wanting to come here unless they had a connection to Cincy

  29. AMDG

    The Nationals can’t win with their manager, so they should trade for David Bell.

    And the Reds should add the players who Bell feels are the best (based on the playing time he gives them).

    So the trade should be:
    – Nationals: Juan Soto
    – Reds: Bell, Moose, Votto, Farmer, Strickland and Pham

    • burtgummer01

      They play because there’s no one remotely close to be able to take over in the minors,thanks in large part to poor trades and drafts

  30. Reaganspad

    Trade them Milt Pappas and call it good

  31. Tom Diesman

    So since their last game the Reds sent Schrock down and returned Moustakas from the Covid List. They sent Hendrix down and returned Moreta from the Covid List. They still have Almora on the Covid List with one open 40 man roster spot. It appears they have about 9 guys ready to return from the Covid, 10/15, and 60 day DLs in the next few days. So they may be getting ready to have to make some tough decisions before the they begin their deadline trading. The current 40 man is at 39 and Almora, Fraley and Dunn will require 40 man spots to be activated. Below is the list of the 9 players I think are real close to returning and then a list of the moves I’d guess they might make to activate them. That is given that no trades are involved of course. Curious to see who you guys feel the Reds might DFA/option to get these guys all back active.

    Due back soon:

    SP Mahle After All Star Break, Scheduled to start 07/24
    OF Aquino Mid-to-late July – Began rehab assignment
    OF Fraley Mid-to-late July – Began rehab assignment
    SP Dunn Mid to Late July, began rehab assignment
    OF Almora Covid List on 07/12
    C Garcia Glove hand middle finger 07/07 – TBD
    RP Cessa After All Star Break
    RP Warren Mid-July
    RP Detwiler Lower back 07/09 – TBD

    Best Guess at Transaction:

    SP Mahle 26 Lodolo Optioned to Louisville
    OF Aquino 26 Fairchild Optioned to Louisville
    OF Fraley 40/26 DFA Reynolds, Optioned to Louisville
    SP Dunn 40/26 DFA Gibaut to open 40 and 26 man spots
    OF Almora 40/26 Takes up open 40 man roster spot, and Reynolds 26 man spot
    C Garcia 26 Papierski Optioned to Louisville
    RP Cessa 26 Ashcraft Optioned to Louisville
    RP Warren 26 Kuhnel Optioned to Louisville
    RP Detwiler 26 Moreta Optioned to Louisville

  32. Michael

    Interesting thoughts. To be as realistic as possible, a trade for Soto has to mean that Castillo and Mahle are off the market. To actually tempt the Nationals, the package would have to include De La Cruz, Greene, India, McClain, and Connor Phillips. All of this for a 1 year contention window in 2023. I don’t think they would win more than 80 games next year even if this happened.