Could Nats trade Soto this summer?

May 18th, 2022

MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here as we approach the 2022 Trade Deadline on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET.

May 18: Nats motivated to trade Soto this summer?
The Trade Deadline is more than two months away, but executives around MLB are already scoping out some key teams and players that could shape this year’s trade market, writes Buster Olney for ESPN+ (subscription required). At the top of the list? Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto.

According to Olney, Washington has already tried to sign the 23-year-old to an extension, but the two sides haven’t made progress. Soto can reach free agency after 2024, so it might make sense for the Nats to shop him sooner rather than later.

Some rival execs even think the team could be "motivated" to make a trade this summer.

"If they're not going to sign him [to a long-term deal], then they'll need to trade him," one evaluator told Olney. "The question is: When?"

The Padres and Blue Jays are two teams Olney has frequently heard being mentioned as potential suitors if Soto is made available.

Even if Soto isn't dealt, the Nats are trending toward being a deadline seller again. Washington has struggled since winning the World Series in 2019, going 91-131 over 2020-21 and starting out 12-26 this season. Impending free agents Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz are among the team's more likely trade candidates.

May 15: Conforto could sign after All-Star break
Michael Conforto, one of the biggest names on the free agent market before a shoulder injury forced him out in January, could find a new home in 2022 after all. His agent Scott Boras told the New York Post that the 29-year-old outfielder could sign some time after the MLB Draft in July and that "multiple" teams remain interested.

It is unlikely Conforto signs prior to the All-Star break, as Conforto was extended a qualifying offer last year, which he rejected. If a team were to sign him prior to the 2022 Draft, they would lose their second- and fifth-highest picks. It's likely that Conforto will be the last player to be tied to a qualifying offer, as the MLB and MLPA may scrap the system this summer if they agree to an international draft by July 25.

After undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in April, it seemed like Conforto would be out for all of the 2022 season, but Boras told the Post that Conforto is ahead of his rehab process and could be ready sometime in September. In order to be eligible for the postseason, he would have to be part of a team's 40-man roster or 60-day IL before Sept. 1.

May 11: Some MLB execs think Bogaerts will be traded
Could Xander Bogaerts' time with the Red Sox be nearing its end? Some MLB executives think so.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand polled two dozen front-office executives on a number of topics, including the biggest name they think will be moved prior to this year's Trade Deadline, and Bogaerts was one of the most popular picks.

Bogaerts can opt out of his contract -- a six-year, $120 million deal that runs through 2025 and includes a 2026 vesting option -- this offseason. The Red Sox talked to their longtime shortstop about an extension before Opening Day, but the two sides were more than $100 million apart, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

If Boston does explore trading Bogaerts, the St. Louis Cardinals could be the best fit for him, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. St. Louis optioned struggling veteran shortstop Paul DeJong to Triple-A on Tuesday and has seen its shortstops record a .455 OPS this season, the worst in the National League.

A Bogaerts trade could become increasingly likely if Boston doesn't dig itself out of an early hole. The Red Sox entered Wednesday with an 11-19 record, putting them in last place in the AL East.

The Sox do have a built-in replacement for Bogaerts in Trevor Story, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal in March and shifted over to second base for the time being. However, Story has not endeared himself to the Fenway faithful so far, hitting .204 with no homers, 36 strikeouts and a .557 OPS in his first 25 games with the team.

May 11: Montas, Castillo among potential SP trade candidates
Starting pitchers are always in high demand leading up to the Trade Deadline, and a number of attractive trade candidates are already starting to emerge now that we're more than a month into this season.

The A's Frankie Montas got the most mentions of any player when MLB.com's Mark Feinsand polled two-dozen MLB executives about the biggest name they think will be moved this summer, among other topics.

It was widely expected that Oakland would trade Montas prior to Opening Day after dealing Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, but the club ended up holding onto the righty, who is eligible for free agency after 2023. Montas, 29, leads the Majors with 43 innings pitched and has posted a 3.77 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP.

Montas was followed in the poll by the Reds' Luis Castillo, another player who is controllable through 2023. After missing time with a right shoulder issue, Castillo made his 2022 debut on Monday. The 29-year-old recorded a 3.72 ERA and a 9.8 K/9 in 123 starts from 2017-21.

Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi (four-year, $68 million deal expires after 2022) and Phillies righty Aaron Nola ($16 million club option in 2023) were the two other starters who received votes. Eovaldi and Nola aren't as likely to be moved as Montas and Castillo at this point, but that could change if the Red Sox (11-19 record) and Phillies (13-17 record) don't turn around their seasons.

Additional starting pitcher trade candidates include the Cubs' Wade Miley, Drew Smyly and Kyle Hendricks, the Pirates' José Quintana, the Reds' Mike Minor and Tyler Mahle, the Red Sox's Rich Hill and Michael Wacha and the Royals' Zack Greinke. All except Hendricks (signed through 2023) and Mahle (controllable through 2023) are on expiring deals.