Juan Soto ... almost a Minnesota Twin?

April 3rd, 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins fans have the privilege of watching one of the most talented all-around players in baseball roam their outfield every day with Byron Buxton in center field.

In an alternate universe, he could have been joined by ... Juan Soto?

That did indeed come close to happening in 2015, when Soto was an international free agent, according to Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff, who shared the story on air with Minnesota's radio team on Sunday. Radcliff was officially inducted into the Killebrew Root Beer Professional Scouts Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony before the Twins' 8-2 victory over the Orioles at Hammond Stadium.

"We actually had a verbalized deal that unfortunately didn't come to fruition, and another team beat us out," Radcliff said. "It's one of the great players in our game right now: Juan Soto."

That other team, of course, was the Nationals, who signed Soto for a $1.5 million bonus. All he's done since then is win a World Series ring, batting title and earn three top-10 MVP finishes as one of the great young stars in the sport.

"You want to try to get them before the actual signing day occurs, because it can be rather chaotic, and we thought we were in very good position and placement on Juan Soto," Radcliff said. "That's a tough one to swallow, obviously."

Radcliff would know. He might be the closest thing that exists to a true embodiment of Twins institutional knowledge on the scouting side. He had been scouting director with the club from 1993 to 2007, when he moved to his current role.

Radcliff remains as involved as he can in the Twins' operations these days, though his schedule in the last few years has been challenging due to heart valve issues and a battle with pancreatic cancer, for which he is back on chemotherapy treatments. He still tries to get out and about in his scouting work between those treatments.

"Always an honor to be recognized by your peers," Radcliff said. "Any time anybody wants to take the time to recognize a scout, I’m all about that. So it’s very cool. In particular, the association with Harmon Killebrew, one of the all-time greats here and maybe the greatest person to ever don a Twins uniform along with being a great player, so it has special meeting."

Radcliff is the 16th member of the Scouts Hall of Fame, brimming full of tale after tale of Twins scouting success (Joe Mauer foremost among them) and near-misses (notably including Miguel Cabrera). Count Soto in with that latter bunch, too.