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.