April 20, 2024

Juan Soto Should Not Be Playing in DC in August

July 22, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Yesterday on Sports Illustrated.com, Max Goodman proposed the following trade: Gleyber Torres, Nestor Cortes, Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, and Ken Waldichuk for Juan Soto. Granted this is not Brian Cashman speaking on the phone to Mike Rizzo, who controls Juan Soto’s fate leading up to the August 2 deadline as much as anyone.

But then there is the article on CBS Sports.com, four days ago, that provides a much broader context for a Juan Soto trade, one that details which teams would benefit from a trade and also have the pieces to land Soto. There, R.J. Anderson lists five teams that provide the greatest fit within those two variables–need and prospect depth.

Using both articles as a guide, and another by Barry Svrluga today in the Washington Post, one can get a good handle on the hottest baseball topic since Juan Soto beat out Julio Rodriguez in the Home Run Derby at the beginning of this week. Anderson ranks the Mariners, Giants, Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals as the teams most likely to land Soto. In a attached discussion by noted baseball writers, hosted by Max Axisa, the author adds the Padres to the mix for no other reason than A.J. Preller’s job may depend upon it.

My bottom line is that the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres and perhaps the Cardinals could be motivated to test the waters. And Washington is trading him if possible. Svrluga posits that the Lerners would not make a $440 million offer and then trade him, but they refused to put Soto on a charter flight to the Home Run Derby, which also made national news.

That rather notable slight does not sound like Mark Lerner is still enchanted with Soto. If a trade offer of the kind that Goodman puts together is actually made by any of the four teams listed above, Mike Rizzo is likely to take it.

Frankly, I don’t see the Yankees trading Nestor Cortes or Gleyber Torres in the middle of a pennant race, even for Juan Soto. They have other players on the 40-man roster who make more sense to include, such as pitchers Luis Medina, J.P. Sears, and Clarke Schmidt. Miguel Andujar, who has requested a trade, would also represent an upgrade over much of what the Nationals currently put out on the diamond wearing a Major League uniform.

Pencil in something like Sears, Andujar, Dominquez, Volpe, and Waldichuk as a legitimate offer. Sears and Waldichuk immediately join Josiah Gray in the rotation alongside Patrick Corbin, and Eric Fedde. Andujar takes over in left field, filling the hole left by Soto. Volpe takes over at shortstop and pushes 21-year-old Luis Garcia to second base where his awful defense can hide more easily. Volpe and Garcia provide up the middle players, along with Keibert Ruiz at catcher, upon which the Nationals can build a real contender in the short term.

Equally fascinating to ponder is what the Cardinals could offer to match any offer. Jordan Walker is the Number 7 MLB prospect, who plays 3B. That position is more vexing to the Nationals and would allow Washington to put Walker out on the field in 2022, moving Maikel Franco over to First Base after Josh Bell is traded.

I would settle for the Cardinals adding Gordan Graceffo (#5 on Cardinals Prospect list), Joshua Baez (#6), Michael McGreevy (#7), and Alec Burleson (#8). Burleson can take over for Soto in right field for the final months of 2022. Both McGreevy and Graceffo profile as Major League starters in 2024, which is a realistic timetable for the Nationals again fielding a contender. Baez has the potential to develop into something akin to Soto, but maybe as a 23 year old.

One writer argues that the rich just get richer, and that is just the nature of the game; always has been. His belief is that the Dodgers come forward with enough to make even the Cardinal offer seem a little light. Okay, so what does that look like? I would think that putting Ryan Pepiot, Bobby Miller, Michael Busch, Michael Vargas and Will Smith in for Soto would work.

Smith takes over for Nelson Cruz when he is traded as a power bat in the middle of the order, Busch and Vargas play in the infield immediately and Pepiot takes a spot in the rotation with Bobby Miller as a future top tier starter. For immediate impact, that group is hard to beat. Mike Rizzo puts four new faces out on the diamond to allow fans to put Juan Soto in the same rear view mirror as Max Scherzer. It’s not fun, but fans in DC are blaming the Lerner family, not Rizzo. Take my word on that one.

The final contender for me is the Padres. I believe the A.J. Preller theory has reason behind it and Nationals fans will never forget the three-way trade that brought Joe Ross and Trea Turner to Washington for Steven Souza. Gifts from San Diego are always welcome, and Christmas in July could take on fresh meaning if lightning were to strike in the same place twice.

The key to any San Diego trade for Juan Soto is MacKenzie Gore. San Diego does not have another pitcher of note that they might trade, and while he is amazing talent, he is a must for any deal getting done. Add Robert Hassell III (#1), James Wood (#3), Eguy Rosario (#5) and Jarlin Susana (#15), and Mike Rizzo can again put enough out on the diamond in August that Nationals fans will not lose faith completely. Rosario could be worked into the infield mix at shortstop and third base, which is perfect for Washington’s post trade deadline needs. Rosario plays third and Franco to first.

It is easy to speculate that all of these scenarios are wishful thinking. But if so, there are a lot of sports writers smoking from the same pipe. And none of the speculation above match that of putting Nestor Cortes and Gleyber Torres in DC colors as part of a deal that also includes the best pipeline talent in the Yankee organization. Any of these deals, coupled with whatever Mike Rizzo can wrestle away from Toronto or others for Josh Bell, would do much to rebuild a depleted Washington organization.

That is something far more important to the future of baseball in Washington than any long term contract for Juan Soto could accomplish. The other good news in these articles is that new ownership is likely to arrive in November. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass Ted Lerner.

Working the Yankee prospects into the mix, future Washington Nationals teams will draw on the following talent as soon as 2023:

Rotation: Waldichuk, Cade Cavalli, Josiah Gray, J.P. Sears, Eric Fedde, Mithcell Parker, Jackson Rutledge

Bullpen: Matt Cronin, Kyle Finnegan,  Tanner Rainey, Evan Lee, Zach Brzykcy

Infield: Keibert Ruiz (c), Anthony Volpe (3B), Armando Cruz (SS), Luis Garcia (2B), Jasson Dominguez (1B)

Outfield: Miguel Andujar (LF), Christian Vacquero (CF), Elijah Greene (RF) Jeremy De La Rosa

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