Presenting 6 trade proposals for Juan Soto

December 1st, 2023

One year before he can test the open market as a free agent, Padres superstar outfielder Juan Soto is reportedly available via trade.

The Friars gave up quite a haul to land Soto and first baseman Josh Bell from the Nationals in the summer of 2022, sending then-rookies CJ Abrams and MacKenzie Gore to Washington along with prospects Robert Hassell III, James Wood, Jarlin Susana and veteran slugger Luke Voit.

Fifteen months later, they aren’t going to get anywhere close to that return for Soto. But with multiple holes to fill, particularly on the pitching staff, and limited room in the budget to address them, trading Soto may be the Padres’ best course of action.

At this point, Soto seems likely to be traded to one of six teams. Earlier this week,’s Mike Petriello ranked the Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, Cubs and Mets as the top five fits for Soto. The Mariners also have been mentioned as a potential suitor for the 25-year-old.

So what type of return can San Diego expect? Past trades for Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor may be a guide, considering both stars were dealt with one year of team control remaining before free agency.

In February 2020, the Dodgers sent young outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop Jeter Downs (MLB Pipeline’s No. 44 overall prospect at the time) and catcher Connor Wong (the Dodgers’ No. 28 prospect at the time) to the Red Sox for Betts and left-hander David Price, with Los Angeles taking on half of the $96 million still owed to the southpaw.

The following year, the Mets acquired Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the Guardians for young infielders Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez, plus two of New York’s top 10 prospects per MLB Pipeline, outfielder Isaiah Greene and pitcher Josh Wolf.

With all of that in mind, here are six trade proposals that could work for both teams involved.

Soto arrives on Chicago’s North Side

Cubs get: OF Juan Soto

Padres get: OF Kevin Alcántara (MLB Pipeline’s No. 71 prospect), RHP Ben Brown (MLB Pipeline’s No. 86 prospect), RHP Michael Arias (Cubs' No. 12 prospect), RHP Javier Assad

Why it could work: After missing the 2023 postseason by one game, the Cubs stand to see their most productive hitter, Cody Bellinger, leave as a free agent. The position player market is relatively thin, so the Cubs’ best route to replace Bellinger’s bat -- outside of signing Shohei Ohtani -- is trading for Soto. They have the best farm system of any team on this list, and after signing manager Craig Counsell to a lucrative five-year contract, the Cubs should have the motivation along with the prospects to get a deal done.

The Padres will target pitching first and foremost in any Soto swap, but the best player in this package may be Alcántara, a tooled-up 6-foot-6 outfielder who came to the Cubs via the Yankees in the 2021 Anthony Rizzo trade. At just 21 years old, Alcántara possesses 30-homer upside, plus speed and the ability to play either in center or right field.

Brown’s fastball can get up to 98 mph, and he complements that heater with a slider and a curveball that received a 60 grade on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He needs to harness his control (51 walks in 72 2/3 innings at Triple-A Iowa this past season), but he has the stuff and the 6-foot-6 frame to be a solid starting pitcher.

Arias also has the upside of a quality starter even though he is a converted shortstop who didn’t begin pitching in the pros until 2021. The 22-year-old may be green, but he is armed with a mid-90s fastball with heavy sinking action along with a plus changeup and a developing slider.

Assad posted a 3.05 ERA in 32 appearances (10 starts) last season, his second in the big leagues. The 26-year-old doesn’t miss many bats, but he induces a lot of ground balls and has proven himself capable as either a starter or long reliever.

Who says no? Both? Perhaps the Padres more so, but you can make a case that neither team wants to do this deal. The Cubs probably don’t want to give up four players, including two top-100 prospects, for one guaranteed year with Soto. But they have the depth to withstand the hit to their farm system.

The Padres might desire electric outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong or right-handed pitcher Cade Horton, both top-30 prospects in MLB, to headline their return. However, with Soto likely reaching the open market by this time next year, they may have to settle for good quantity over top-notch quality.

-- Brian Murphy

Bombers bring Soto to the Bronx

Yankees get: OF Juan Soto 

Padres get: RHP Drew Thorpe (MLB Pipeline’s No. 99 overall prospect), RHP Randy Vásquez (Yankees’ No. 14 prospect), RHP Michael King, INF Oswald Peraza

Why it could work: Coming off their worst season (82-80) since 1992, the Yankees are in need of a blockbuster move to change the narrative surrounding the franchise. Soto certainly qualifies, and as a left-handed-hitting outfielder, he’d also address New York’s biggest need.

As for the Padres, they need pitching -- six of their top eight from 2023 in terms of innings pitched are now free agents, including reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and All-Star closer Josh Hader. This deal would bring some promising arms to San Diego, with King and Vásquez bolstering its staff in 2024 and Thorpe offering significant upside for the future after posting a 2.52 ERA, an 11.8 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9 over 139 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A this past season.

The Padres would also get Peraza, a former MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect who struggled in limited playing time at the big league level in 2023 (.191/.267/.272 over 191 plate appearances). The Yanks have some flexibility here, as they can swap in Clarke Schmidt for King or Everson Pereira (MLB Pipeline’s No. 75 prospect) for Peraza, depending on San Diego’s preferences.

Although this is a hefty package for a player with only one year of team control remaining, it would allow New York to get Soto without having to surrender Anthony Volpe, Spencer Jones (MLB Pipeline’s No. 73 prospect) or Jasson Domínguez (No. 74).

Who says no? Probably the Padres. This return, while solid, lacks a potential star-level player (MLB Pipeline projects Thorpe to be a mid-rotation starter rather than a frontline arm). San Diego would likely hold out for something better if this were the Yanks’ best offer.

-- Thomas Harrigan

Star-starved Giants seal a deal for Soto

Giants get: OF Juan Soto

Padres get: LHP Carson Whisenhunt (MLB Pipeline's No. 70 overall prospect), RHP Mason Black (Giants’ No. 9 prospect), RHP Anthony DeSclafani, OF Mike Yastrzemski

Why it could work: For the Padres, the priorities this offseason seem to be as follows (in no particular order): pitching, pitching and pitching. Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, as well as veteran right-handers Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha are all free agents and could be elsewhere in 2024. And one of the game's premier closers, Hader, is one of multiple relievers who could depart in free agency.

The Giants, meanwhile, have an abundance of young pitching and are desperate for a lineup upgrade -- only one player hit more than 20 homers for them in 2023 (Wilmer Flores, 23). San Francisco is also starved for star power and has the type of payroll flexibility to sell Soto on re-signing when he hits free agency.

This is a franchise that isn’t used to being without a big-name hitter. From Willie Mays to Willie McCovey to Will Clark to Barry Bonds to Buster Posey, a premier bat has been a San Francisco staple. Soto could finally break the Giants’ unbelievable streak of 19 seasons without a 30-plus home run hitter (Bonds hit 45 in 2004) while bringing instant superstar power back to the Bay after San Francisco struck out on Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa last winter.

Who says no? While McCovey Cove would be an inviting target for the left-handed-slugging Soto, the Padres probably turn this proposal down. A pair of MLB-ready or near-MLB-ready top pitching prospects would be attractive for San Diego, but DeSclafani’s effectiveness has been hampered by injuries and Yastrzemski hasn’t been the same hitter we saw from 2019-20. The Padres may be able to find a better-looking overall package elsewhere.

-- Manny Randhawa

Met Killer to Killer Met

Mets get: OF Juan Soto

Padres get: C Francisco Alvarez, 2B/SS/OF Ronny Mauricio (MLB Pipeline's No. 87 overall prospect), RHP Mike Vasil (Mets' No. 9 prospect)

Why it could work: Soto crushed the Mets for years in the NL East with the Nationals. He beat them in the playoffs with the Padres. The Mets would jump at the chance to have one of the greatest hitters of this generation on their side. And they've already made a blockbuster trade just like this one: the Lindor trade with the Guardians.

This Soto trade would follow the same formula: New York would send the Padres a top young catcher in the 22-year-old Alvarez, a high-ceiling young power hitter in the 22-year-old Mauricio and a big league-ready starting pitching prospect in Vasil, which is something San Diego could use with Snell hitting free agency.

Who says no? The Padres. When they remember the level of blue-chip prospects they gave up to get Soto in the first place, the Mets' offer might not measure up. Not that the Padres would expect the exact same return after getting a year and a half of Soto for themselves, but still. This is one of the greatest young stars in the game. Alvarez looks promising, but it's hard to bank on finding a long-term star at the catcher position, and he'd be the centerpiece of the deal as the Mets' best young Major Leaguer and a recent No. 1 overall prospect.

-- David Adler

Soto joins J-Rod Show in Seattle

Mariners get: OF Juan Soto

Padres get: RHP Bryan Woo, C Harry Ford (MLB Pipeline's No. 39 overall prospect) and RHP Emerson Hancock (Seattle’s No. 6 prospect)

Why it could work: With Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert and Bryce Miller (and eventually Robbie Ray), the Mariners are one of the few teams that actually might have starting pitching to spare, plus they’re set at catcher with Cal Raleigh. Parting with righties Woo and Hancock and backstop prospect Ford wouldn’t necessarily undercut their 2024 roster. Seattle does, however, badly need a bat -- and a big one like Soto's. Soto would team with Julio Rodríguez to form one of the more fun, dynamic outfield duos in the sport.

The Padres, meanwhile, are looking to add arms with Snell and veterans Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo all free agents. Woo (4.21 ERA, 9.5 K/9 as a rookie) and Hancock (the No. 6 overall pick in 2020) both have reached the Majors and come with six seasons of club control. Ford is a little further away (.410 OBP, 15 HR and 24 SB at High-A) but he possesses the kind of athletic, versatile skill set as a catcher that would intrigue A.J. Preller.

Who says no? The Padres, because given the demand for Soto, it’s likely they could push another club to include one piece with more upside than any of these three have as part of a package. But what if the Mariners were willing to give up, say, Bryce Miller instead of Woo?

-- Jason Catania

Blue Jays add a big bat

Blue Jays get: OF Juan Soto, 3B Eguy Rosario

Padres get: C Danny Jansen, SS/3B Orelvis Martinez (MLB Pipeline's No. 88 overall prospect), LHP Brandon Barriera (Blue Jays’ No. 4 prospect), OF Alan Roden (Blue Jays’ No. 7 prospect)

Why it could work: Adding Soto to the mix could turn the Blue Jays’ lineup from frustrating to fearsome. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s underwhelming season was a major theme as Toronto was swept by Minnesota in the 2023 AL Wild Card Series, ending a disappointing campaign up north. After putting to bed trade rumors surrounding shortstop Bo Bichette, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins would certainly love the chance to add another superstar bat to the equation.

From San Diego’s perspective, adding a starting catcher of Jansen’s caliber would take the pressure off Luis Campusano to repeat an underrated 2023 campaign over a considerably larger sample size. San Diego would also net a top-100 prospect in Martinez, who would join a crowded Padres infield, and a young left-hander with upper-90s stuff in Barriera.

Who says no? The Padres. While adding Soto to a potent lineup would be tempting, the Blue Jays likely wouldn’t part with top prospect Ricky Tiedemann for one year of Soto’s services. The left-handed pitcher, MLB Pipeline's No. 31 prospect, reached Triple-A in 2023, and could make his Major League debut in '24. If Toronto truly covets Soto, it might have to give up Tiedemann to make a deal, but a prospect package without the lefty likely won’t get the job done. The fact that four of the Blue Jays’ top six prospects are infielders -- a position at which San Diego is already strong -- further complicates chances of a Soto trade to Toronto.

-- Theo DeRosa