Juan Soto Trade Destinations: Who Could Land the HR Derby Champion?

The trade deadline got an early shakeup with reports that Juan Soto rejected a 15yr/$440M extension offer from the Nationals, forcing the team to consider trading the all-star. While the Nationals can take their time trading Soto – he’s under contract through 2024 – Trea Turner’s inclusion in last year’s Max Scherzer mega deal proved Mike Rizzo isn’t afraid to be aggressive at the deadline. Where could Soto end up if and when a deal goes down?

What Will It Take To Land Juan Soto?

One comparison that has made the rounds ever since news broke of Soto’s availability is the Nets’ Kevin Durant situation. The Nets want a historic haul for their superstar, so much that his market has seemingly gone quiet in the weeks since he requested a trade. Soto is similarly among the best players in his sport, and while one player doesn’t impact a team in baseball like it does in basketball, Soto’s youth and historic on-base ability make him one of the most valuable trade chips ever. What does that all boil down to? It’ll be extremely difficult to put together a trade package for him. Any team that wants to trade for Soto needs to have a stocked farm system and plenty of money (assuming they want to keep him long-term). More often than not, the teams that have one of those don’t have the other. So, who does? And who doesn’t but may be desperate enough to make an aggressive pitch anyway?

Who Could Land Juan Soto?

Everyone’s immediate thought when the news broke on Saturday was probably the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman and Mike Rizzo already got together for the Scherzer/Turner deal last year, and it’s no secret that LA has exorbitant amounts of money plus a tremendous farm system. The Dodgers have six of MLB’s top-75 prospects, a crop headlined by 20-year-old catcher Diego Cartaya and 23-year-old pitcher Bobby Miller. It was less than a year ago that the Nationals acquired a top catching and pitching prospect from LA, but Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray won’t stand in the way of any deal. If there’s a reason to be cautious, the Dodgers don’t spend money recklessly. They didn’t pursue Manny Machado when he became a free-agent after 2018, and they didn’t show any interest in retaining Corey Seager last year. Do they think it’s worth adding another massive contract to their payroll?

Keep an eye on the Dodgers’ NL West rival Padres. San Diego blew its chance to land Scherzer at the deadline last year, and it burned them. If A.J. Preller probably knows he needs another star if he wants his team to compete with the Dodgers. Juan Soto could be a face of the franchise alongside Tatis and Machado for the next decade. The Padres’ farm system isn’t loaded, but outfielder Robert Hassell would be a great headliner of any deal. Plus, Yu Darvish’s salary comes off the books after 2023 while Eric Hosmer’s contract becomes more tradable after this season.

The Yankees and Mets are obvious candidates to land Soto. Big market, loads of money, talented farm systems. The only way the Yankees make this move (after the season) likely involves Aaron Judge leaving, which would be an unpopular decision sentimentally but probably the smart one on the field given Soto’s age. The Yankees don’t have too many MLB-ready top prospects, nor do they have tradable young major-leaguers, but Anthony Volpe and/or Jasson Dominguez could headline a deal if the Nationals were willing to be patient. The Mets have an even higher payroll, but Steve Cohen’s bottomless pit money has room for one more, right? I’m not sure the Nationals would trade Soto within the NL East. If they did, Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty are both terrific prospects who could help get a deal done.

I’ll give you three more teams I’d monitor: the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Mariners. Chicago and Toronto fall under the category of ‘desperate.’ Both should be much better than they are and might be inclined to make a move for Soto while worrying about the financials later. The Blue Jays already have some prospects who might struggle to find a consistent spot in their lineup, including Gabriel Moreno. Are they expendable? The White Sox might not be able to add to their $195M payroll but could be a team that feels it needs to make a splash in the offseason. I’m just not sure they have the prospects to pull it off without dealing from their major-league roster.

The Mariners are an intriguing potential suitor. Seattle has spent big in the past but currently sits 22nd in payroll. This is a team with a healthy blend of veterans and young standouts that finally looks like it’ll return to the postseason. Soto may be the difference between postseason contender and World Series contender – if not in 2022, then in 2023. George Kirby and Emerson Hancock could be headliners in any package if Jerry Dipoto decides it’s the right time to get aggressive. Imagine Soto and fellow Home Run Derby finalist Julio Rodriguez roaming the outfield together?

Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

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