It’s the top question in baseball right now: Will Juan Soto be traded before the August 2 trade deadline? You’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask around the sport. Team execs across the league are reportedly split on if this will actually happen this season. Let’s discuss the issue at hand.
Will Nationals trade Juan Soto?
Any team trading for Soto needs at least two things:
1. Lots of young, controllable, high-upside players.
Money would also be a nice thing to have, but it’s not a requirement to acquire Soto. Yes, he will likely ink a nine-figure deal that begins with a five at some point in the near future. But any team with the right package of players could give the Nats the prospect haul they desire and go on a couple of postseason runs with Soto before turning around and dealing him for another batch of prospects before he becomes a free agent following the 2024 season.
But general managers treasure their top prospects more so today than possibly ever before. It’s so tempting to hold on to that unknown quantity, even when the known quantity in this equation is arguably the best hitter in MLB right now. The Yankees and Mets, both clubs that seem like obvious fits for Soto, are reportedly iffy on giving up the prospects required to make such a move.
But how often does a 23-year-old generational talent hit the trade market? This is a special circumstance, one in which teams should be bending over backward to give the Nats what they want for Soto. And the Nats know they hold the upper hand here. They are reportedly asking for four to five players in return — some combination of players with little MLB service time and top prospects.
Such is their right. Though it’s clear that the Nats will be trading Soto at some point, that point won’t be within the next eight days unless a team meets all of their demands. The Nationals are not negotiating; they are telling them what they want. An interested buyer isn’t willing to meet their price? OK, they just move on down the line to the next suitor.
And that’s why I think Soto will not be traded prior to the August 2 deadline. Teams seem too hesitant to part with their top prospects, and there is no rush to do this now. Washington could revisit this issue in the offseason when Soto, who doesn’t turn 24 until late October, would still be under team control for two full seasons.