What to make of Red Sox, Soto, more? A Deadline discussion

July 26th, 2022

The Trade Deadline is a week away, meaning this is that in-between period for teams: There’s still plenty of time left, yet a sense of urgency is setting in -- especially for the bubble teams that aren’t quite sure which way their seasons are headed. MLB.com gathered to discuss what may happen between now and Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET, the official Trade Deadline.  

Alyson Footer, editor/moderator: Let’s start with the Red Sox. Are they sellers? They seem to be quickly fading, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to just get rid of anyone hitting free agency soon. Also, as I look at the list of pending free agents, I can’t help but think of how many of them have contributed to the team being outscored 55-8 in the past three games. They aren't really the "blow-it-up" type of organization. What should/will they do? 

Jon Paul Morosi, reporter, MLB.com/MLB Network: The Red Sox absolutely should be listening on Xander Bogaerts, but not Rafael Devers. That's a conversation for this coming offseason and next year. 

Mark Feinsand, executive reporter: Boston is one of those eight bubble teams I wrote about this week, and frankly, I don’t think we’ll know their course until a day or two before the Deadline. I think J.D. Martinez could be dealt, because he’s not in their future plans, but Bogaerts could either bring back a nice prospect or two, or he could be given a qualifying offer after he opts out.

Devers is most definitely an offseason topic. If Bogaerts leaves, I would expect the Red Sox to extend Devers.

Morosi: If you move Bogaerts, you acknowledge that you're not a likely World Series contender this year -- which is the reality. They aren't.

Feinsand: If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom decides to go into full sell mode, then Martinez, Bogaerts and Nathan Eovaldi should all be on the move.

Morosi: In many ways, Red Sox fans are the perfect group to understand the virtue in an "express sale" -- as long as it's done correctly. They've seen how quickly fortunes can change -- witness the 2013 World Series title following the 2012 calamity.

They also know what a World Series champion looks like -- and they realize that the 2022 Red Sox do not match that description, at least based on their current form.

Feinsand: Chris Sale’s latest injury was the sign that 2022 just isn’t going to be their year.

After this recent 1-9 stretch, I think Red Sox fans would be at peace with a bit of a reset. But they have to do what it takes to extend Devers. If they lose both Bogaerts and Devers -- without adding another huge bat in the process -- that won’t go over well in Boston.

Morosi: Let's put it this way: If you ask Red Sox fans if they'd rather (a) miss the playoffs but extend Devers by Opening Day or (b) win one playoff round, lose in the Division Series, and not extend Devers, I believe they'd overwhelmingly choose option (a).

I've long believed that, at this time of year, front offices welcome a sense of clarity. What has transpired with the Red Sox has given them clarity, though not in the way they hoped.

Feinsand: By now, I would think that the Red Sox know what it will take to bring Bogaerts back. If they don’t think they’re going to be willing to do that -- and my guess is that they won’t -- then they have to trade him.

Morosi: Exactly, Mark. I suppose now the question is where? And here's one team to think about: the Padres. What if they decide that it's easiest on Fernando Tatis Jr. to play the outfield for the rest of the season?

Feinsand: Aren’t the Padres the answer to every one of these questions?

I think we could see Tatis in the outfield even if San Diego doesn’t add a shortstop. Ha-Seong Kim has played well there. Of course, it depends on which other outfielders the Padres add between now and then.

Morosi: Based on their production to date, Juan Soto would make a larger impact than Bogaerts for the balance of this season. But if you don't want to pay the premium to land Soto, Bogaerts is an incredible alternative to have.

Feinsand: Agreed. We’re talking night and day between what it will take to land those two.

Morosi: I agree on Kim. Bogaerts is also an incredible athlete and has shown a willingness to play different positions in the short term for the betterment of the team. I don't see him playing the outfield, per se, but Bogaerts is a team-first superstar who fits perfectly into any clubhouse.

Feinsand: As one NL GM said in the poll I did regarding the Soto situation: “My assumption is it will be the best prospect package we’ve ever seen in a trade -- and rightfully so. It’s the best player, in their prime, with the most control that I can recall being moved, ever.”

Footer: Let's stay on the topic of bubble teams in the middle of an ill-timed fade. What do the Giants do?

Morosi: For me, the Giants are one team that we need to watch with Soto. They could sell some short-term assets, but I think they belong in the Soto chase.

Feinsand: Sell! Sell! Sell! Only that’s not in their DNA, so I don’t think they will. Just as JP said with the Red Sox, I think the Giants know they aren’t a championship team.

Footer: I do not think the Giants have the prospects to land a Soto deal.

Morosi: They need a superstar. Buster Posey has retired. They tried to trade for Giancarlo Stanton years ago. They seriously pursued Bryce Harper.

Feinsand: They should -- and probably will -- be a player for Soto if and when he becomes a free agent. But San Francisco doesn’t have the prospects to deal for Soto. I would be stunned if that’s where he landed in a trade.

Morosi: The Giants would need to be creative, but I think Marco Luciano is good enough to be viewed as a leading prospect. Luciano, Kyle Harrison and Luis Matos are all in the top 100. The Nationals would need to get at least two and possibly three of them.

Feinsand: I’m going to respectfully disagree. This is going to be a package of 3-5 top prospects -- plus a young MLB player or two. The Giants just don’t have the system to put that kind of deal together. We have never seen a player like Soto put on the trade block with 2 1/2 years of control remaining. This is going to be one of the biggest trades in memory.

Morosi: I do agree that the Cardinals have more capital than the Giants for a Soto deal.

Feinsand: So do the Yankees, Rays, Padres, Dodgers….

Morosi: The game-changer for St. Louis is that Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman would give the Nationals the right-now value that they need. The Dodgers probably have the best farm system in the game. They certainly have the best one among the contenders.

Soto is earning almost exactly the same salary as Cody Bellinger this season. Yes, he's one service year younger. But it's almost dollar-for-dollar. If the Dodgers decide that it's time to move on from Cody after this year, then Soto takes his payroll slot. Not that the Dodgers are especially worried about their expenditures.

Feinsand: Payroll isn’t an issue for the Dodgers. But I don’t know if Andrew Friedman would want to give up the farm to add to a lineup that is already producing more runs than any team in the Majors outside of the Yankees. I feel like GMs such as Jerry Dipoto [Mariners] or AJ Preller [Padres] -- folks feeling some urgency to win now -- are the ones who will take the big swing for Soto.

I think it’s likely that Soto gets traded by next week, though it’s not a certainty. With two-plus years of control, the Nationals could certainly wait until the offseason if they don’t get the offer they feel is worthy of a deal.

Footer: Moving on…The more I’m thinking about Willson Contreras, I can’t help but think the Astros might be the best landing spot. He wouldn’t take playing time from Martín Maldonado; as you’ve said from the start, Mark, there are plenty of ways to get these guys at-bats as DH. And the Astros seem to be resigned to Yordan Alvarez’s balky hand being something they’re going to have to navigate around the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Astros also need a backup catcher. Throw in a few of Yordan’s ABs, and this is starting to make perfect sense. Who says no?

Morosi: I love the Astros as a fit for Contreras. They won't want to give up [No. 1 prospect] Hunter Brown, but I think he would be a reasonable request from the Cubs.

Feinsand: The Astros make perfect sense to me. So do the Mets. James McCann is signed beyond this season, but he’s been banged up and struggling most of the season, and Contreras is signed for only this year.

The Cubs need more than one team to get into this mix if they want to extract a big-time prospect for Contreras.

Morosi: In the catching market, remember how unique the Jays are. They are buyers but can trade an MLB catcher for the right controllable pitcher. They have three catchers.

Feinsand: Alejandro Kirk is an All-Star, Danny Jansen has produced at a high level when he plays and their top prospect is Gabriel Moreno, another catcher.

Morosi: The Giants still need to be in the market for catching help. Contreras fits there, too.

Feinsand: The Giants need to sell. You forgot that part.

Carlos Rodón will get them a nice prospect or two. If he goes on the market, he’s the second or third best starter available. But I don’t think the Giants should give up on Joey Bart so fast. He struggled when he first came up, but to give up on him already would be short-sighted.

Footer: The Yankees are saying all the right things about their meager performance vs. Houston this year, but I think they know they just don’t match up well with this team. It does not surprise me that they’re interested in Andrew Benintendi, even though he is unvaccinated, given he would give them an effective left-handed bat. What else do they need to neutralize things a little bit when October hits?

Feinsand: I think they would have been interested in Benintendi regardless of how they played against Houston. Joey Gallo will not be on this team -- or at least the roster -- in October.

Morosi: Benintendi fits the profile of what the Yankees need. If they decide against acquiring him because of the vaccination issue, wouldn't Ian Happ be a strong alternative?

Feinsand: I was told this week that AL East teams are still coming strong for Benintendi, including the Yankees. The vax issue doesn’t seem to be scaring them away.

Morosi: I also like David Peralta for the Yankees. Brandon Drury is another hitter who virtually every contender will want.

Feinsand: Juan Soto would look good in pinstripes, too.

Morosi: I've heard of him. The Yankees would have to put Anthony Volpe in the deal if they want to get Soto, right? I don't see a way that it works otherwise. Or are there some teams that view Oswald Peraza as being very close to Volpe?

Feinsand: Yes, they would have to put Volpe and probably Jasson Dominguez in a deal for Soto.

Feinsand: The Yankees will add an outfielder, but right now I think their bigger concern is in the rotation. Luis Severino’s health is a question, and Jameson Taillon has been up and down of late. If the Yankees make a big move, it’s going to be for Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, not Soto. I could see Oswald Peraza headlining a deal for Castillo or Montas.

Morosi: Montas still concerns me because of the time he's missed. If you trade for someone next week, you need to be quite certain that he's going to be able to take a regular turn through October.

Feinsand: I agree on Montas. I would pay significantly more for Castillo than for Montas. They’re both under control for one more year.

Morosi: I would expect some teams would prefer Tyler Mahle to Montas for that exact reason. He's in the same service time class as Castillo and Montas.

Montas is the more dynamic and often dominant performer, but Mahle has a 3.22 ERA since the start of June.