Where execs think Soto will land

July 25th, 2022

Less than 10 days ago, news broke that Juan Soto had turned down a $440 million extension offer from the Nationals, unexpectedly thrusting one of the game’s best players on to the trade market.

The Trade Deadline is Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET, giving the Nationals -- and those teams potentially looking to acquire the two-time All-Star -- a little more than a week to put together the right deal.

But will Soto even be traded by the Deadline?

MLB.com polled 17 front-office executives about their thoughts on the Soto situation, getting an inside look at the way decision-makers are viewing this superstar sweepstakes.

Which three teams do you view as the favorites to trade for Soto?

Padres 8
Dodgers 7
Cardinals 3
Mariners 3
Mets 3
Rays 3
Yankees 3
Giants 2
Blue Jays
Red Sox

The fact that 13 teams were named by executives tells you everything you need to know about the market for Soto.

“I would probably list ‘the field’ as the favorite,” a National League general manager said.

Despite Soto’s rising financial cost -- he has two years of arbitration left prior to free agency, during which he could wind up earning roughly $60 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors estimates -- it’s not just the big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers and Mets that are expected to pursue Soto.

“I think every team would put him in the middle of their lineup,” another NL GM said. “It just depends who feels they need him the most.”

The Padres were named by more executives than any other team, but the Dodgers were just one vote behind, so the NL West could be affected if either of them lands Soto.

Three execs tabbed the Yankees as favorites to trade for Soto, which would give New York another huge weapon for this year’s stretch run -- not to mention a fallback plan in the event that Aaron Judge departs as a free agent this winter. And if the Yankees are able to sign Judge to a long-term deal, they would have Judge, Soto and Giancarlo Stanton locked in for 2023 and 2024.

“With two years of full control, the move could be massive,” an AL executive said. “If it’s the Yankees, they could rent [Soto] for two years and re-sign Judge and be pretty fearsome. Not sure they have the system to do it or enough young Major League talent to entice [the Nationals], but that would be a tremendous landing spot.”

Will Soto be traded by Aug. 2?

Yes 8
No 7

Those executives willing to offer a guess at this one -- a handful of those polled chose to answer only some questions -- were split on this one, with eight of 15 believing the Nationals would trade the star by next week.

If you don’t believe Soto will be traded by Aug. 2, when -- if at all -- do you expect him to be dealt?

2022-23 offseason 3
After new Nationals ownership is in place 2
New Nationals ownership will re-sign him 2

Several executives noted that the uncertainty surrounding the Nationals ownership could have a huge impact on whether Soto is traded by next week.

“I don’t doubt that there will be a robust market for him, but the ownership uncertainty makes it difficult to determine if he’s going to be moved,” an AL GM said. “This is an ownership-level decision, so ownership-level questions cloud it.”

“Washington shouldn’t rush into it, since he has two years of control [after this season],” another AL GM said. “That will give Washington time to figure out ownership direction.”

Only two of the 17 respondents predict Soto will ultimately remain in Washington, signed to an extension by the team’s next owner.

“I see new Nationals owners feeling pressure to extend him this winter,” an AL GM said.

If you believe Soto will be traded by Aug. 2, which team will acquire him? And what kind of package do you think it will take to get him?

Shrug emoji/No idea 3
Dodgers 2
Padres 2

Once again, the unpredictable nature of this situation had executives scratching their heads. Although the Dodgers and Padres each received two votes and the Yankees one, very few respondents felt confident in their prediction.

“No idea,” an NL GM said. “But I’m going to say it’s not the usual suspects like the Yankees or Dodgers.”

The only thing all executives seemed to agree upon was that the Nationals will get a haul for Soto if they don’t require a trade partner to take back a big contract (such as left-hander Patrick Corbin) along with Soto.

“I think they are far enough away that it probably just makes the most sense to take the talent,” an AL exec said. “I don’t think Corbin is going to affect them next year or the year after.”

“If they included a contract then only a few teams would fit that bill,” a second NL GM said. “Corbin has a ton of remaining money; that would take up a ton of the prospect value.”

The consensus is that the Nationals will get back a package of three to five top prospects, along with at least one young, Major League-ready player in return for Soto.

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