The situation with Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is exceptionally rare. You just don’t see 23-year-old generational talents who are routinely compared to Ted Williams become available to the highest bidder.
Really, any club could make a realistic offer for him as long as they have the player capital to entice the Nats. Even a “small-market team” such as the Rays or Guardians could make a run at him, considering their high-quality farm systems. No, they probably wouldn’t sign him to a contract worth $500 million, but with Soto not scheduled to hit free agency until 2025, any team could make a deal for him now, see what happens over the next couple of years and then look to trade him and recoup some value back before he reaches the open market.
The possibilities are endless with Soto. But three teams stand out as the best destination for arguably the best hitter in the game today.
Best Juan Soto landing spots
New York Yankees
MLB should want its stars in the biggest markets. So right off the bat, this makes sense from a business standpoint. But for the Yankees, there is a clear need for an impact outfielder this season and for the long haul. With Joey Gallo not working out in the Bronx, the Yanks are exploring the outfield trade market. And what would you think about an outfield that has Soto in right, Aaron Judge in center, and Giancarlo Stanton in left?
Then, obviously, Soto would slip right into Judge’s vacated spot following this season once the current face of the Yankees’ franchise departs as a free agent. Judge is in the midst of possibly a historic year, but he turned down a seven-year offer worth more than $200 million prior to the season. If the Yankees have their choice, they would much rather give the young Soto a blank check than sign Judge to a high-priced, long-term deal when he is already in his 30s.
For such a scenario to take place, the Yankees would have to part with a boatload of top prospects. That group probably includes shortstop Anthony Volpe and 19-year-old phenom Jasson Dominguez. Whether they are open to dealing those prospects is a question mark.
Los Angeles Dodgers
What’s that about having the game’s best players in big markets?
There isn't an obvious fit for Soto on LA’s roster, but fit has never really been a focus for the Dodgers; compiling talented players is. There wasn’t really a fit when they acquired Trea Turner at the deadline last season with Corey Seager still manning shortstop, but they made it work. And they can make this work, too. They always have money to burn, and they have the prospects to meet the Nationals’ high asking price. The Dodgers currently have six players on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list, highlighted by catcher Diego Cartaya and flamethrowing pitcher Bobby Miller.
The Mariners are among the at least half dozen or so teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Soto already. And how fun would it be to see Soto and 21-year-old Julio Rodriguez, the 2022 Home Run Derby finalists, in the same outfield?
Unlike the Yankees or Dodgers, the Mariners can’t just whip out their checkbook and give Soto the mega contract he’s looking for. But they definitely have the prospects to make a trade possible, and he would undoubtedly help Seattle end its seemingly interminable postseason drought. The Mariners have three top-100 prospects, but that doesn’t include former prospects such as starting pitcher George Kirby or outfielder Jarred Kelenic.
Kirby has been impressive more often than not as a rookie this year. Conversely, Kelenic, once a top-10 prospect in all of baseball, is still trying to fulfill all of his potential. But if Washington believes it can tap into it, that makes a Soto-to-Seattle swap a much more likely possibility.