On Friday, Ken Rosenthal dropped a report on the baseball world in two parts: (1) Juan Soto reportedly turned down a $440 million 15-year extension offer which is why (2) Citizens are now *in fact* open to trading for him.
Given his immense talent and potential record price, any deal that Soto, 23, is involved in, would be a change of franchise (in both directions). Only a few teams will be able to absorb the financial cost of keeping Soto long-term, although we learned yesterday that the Cubs are – in theory – one of those teams. Whether they have the chops (or the stomach) to send what it will take to DC is another question entirely.
Either way, in the wake of Soto’s sudden availability, a lot of ink has been spilled. From rumors, to reports, to hopeful sales offers, here’s everything that has been reported after, after Rosenthal dropped his nuclear weapon.
- Let’s start with what we didn’t cover from the two reports we shared yesterday. First, the package put Sahadev Sharma together to explain what it would take to get Soto to the Cubs in the first place: “A deal was built around Nico Horner, Justin Steel, Brennen Davis, Pete Crowe Armstrong, and Caleb Killian. Christian Hernandez will seem like a lot to some Cubs fans, but He might as well laugh at the thought of Soto’s immense talent.”
- This is the Cubs Young Player of the Major League (Hoerner) level, the Most Outstanding Young Player of the Big League (Steele) level, and four of the top five potential players, all top 100 players, including two players. (Davis and Killian) who are already knocking on the MLB door. So another way to think about this deal is four young players and two top 100 potential clients. And this deal may not even beat what’s out there.
- Oh, remember that’s not all. Not only will the acquiring team have to pay Soto a very expensive refereeing season in 2024 and 2025 (which could be close to $50 million), they will not only hope to extend it to a deal that should approach $500 million in total. Obligations, they may also have to take some paycheck from the citizens in the form of other bad contracts, according to The Athletic: “Citizens may ask any suitor interested in absorbing an additional contract, as Marilyn did with Cabrera, including bowler Dontrelle Willis in the deal. Washington owes about $60 million to bowler Patrick Corbin in 2023 and 2024. The debt to Stephen Strasbourg is greater. Strasbourg, who has served eight times since 2019, will earn $140 million from 2023 to 2026.”
- Like I said, the franchise is changing…but in both directions.
- In addition to McCullough/Sharma and Jon Heyman, who all included Cubs as potential suitors, Ken Rosenthal also did:
- Regarding the possibility of the Cubs landing in Soto, I’ll just say this for now: They’ve checked many, but not all, chests. They have a big enough market to support a record salary, they have the potential depth to make it happen, and they can use the cornerstone franchise like any team out there. The issue, by contrast, is the lack of elite potential. Soto is probably as good as any baseball player right now, but they’d lose a lot to get. They should still do it if they had the opportunity, but it would be painful and would require significant and immediate additional investment.
- Rosenthal also has a very interesting theory on that podcast episode where a low-income, high-probability team like Rays trades Soto for use across the extension and the next season before turning around and trading it before his final year of team control in 2024. That would be a bit of a bold move, but oh Boy… definitely interesting to think about. It also opens this race to…almost any team in the MLB (which is Rosenthal’s broadest point).
- Jesse Dougherty (The Washington Post) It has a very useful topic Information and reports, plus quotes from Soto himself. Among the highlights:
- Dougherty also reported (this time, via mail) that the citizens would not increase their bid (which did not include any delays) and the Soto camp decided not to provide a response. And this is difficult. On the one hand, the total commitment was the largest in MLB history, but on the other hand, the 15-year term kept the AAV under $30 million. Mike Trout earned $36 million a year on his extension, and was four years older than Sotos at the time. You could say “but it’s Mike Trout,” and you’d be right, but Soto might be the closest thing we have right now. I think it would take either $500 million in total, or the AAV outselling the trout… and still double digits. Why don’t the citizens take him there… Well, that’s their decision.
- It’s also worth noting that while there were no traditional “delays”, the deal was reportedly loaded again. And when that’s been the case over a 15-year period, it’s basically a deferment. Jon Heyman has more on how/why the conversations broke down here, including Scott Porras’ rather amazing collections. You can only tell already that this is likely to take at least $500 million if we’re talking about 15 years.
- In The Athletic, Brittany Ghiroli discusses Nats’ decision not to increase the bid to Soto, questioning the wisdom of loading the next property suite (oh, yeah, Nats’ ownership group at the start of the sale) with a half-billion contracts. But it’s fair to question that logic when we’re talking about $50-60 million spread over 15 seasons. You have to draw a line somewhere – and the comeback will be historic – but you rarely see one-of-a-kind real players transferring the teams.
- So, who is actually considered a realistic landing site? Are there rumors? Let’s get into it.
- In one article in The Athletic (Andy McCullough), we see the Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Yankees, Padres, Mariners, Cardinals, and Blue Jays. This link includes potential packages from each group (as Sharma’s package was initially shared). In another article in The Athletic (Ken Rosenthal et al.), we get the Padres, Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Braves and Red Sox.
- In the New York Post, John Heyman features the Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Giants. This means that the only teams on the three rosters are the Dodgers, the Mets, and the Padres (the Cubs and the Yankees are on two of three teams). But we don’t have to be theoretical. The actual rumors have already started.
- According to SNY, the citizens are said to view the Mets as “one of the few teams that could match in a Soto deal, and are likely to start asking for two or three of New York’s top prospects, plus more.” If that doesn’t sound as pricey as you’d expect, it’s because it isn’t… but also remember that the Mets have a No. Likely No. 2 overall, Francisco Alvarez, and another guy, Brett Patty, are in the top 20. The point is, they’re heavier than most. But this cuts both ways. They have some potential elite talent, but not as deep as the Cubs for example. With that, they definitely have the financial resources to accommodate the deal. Even though it might pay them over tax Steve Cohen!
- Lonnie is very pessimistic that the citizens will exchange Sotos within the department. But I guess that’s not something you can totally turn down when you’re making a deal of this size. I just suspect there will be equivalent packages elsewhere that you’d prefer to accept, all things being equal.
- In the New York Post, John Heyman cites sources that both the Yankees and Mets *will* explore a trade for Soto. Heyman also adds good news for Cubs fans: “Early speculation about the game is that it wouldn’t be easy for anyone to complete a massive deal like this by August. 2 trade deadlines because that’s the kind of generational talent. Rival teams won’t want to give away major league talent. While they’re at the races…” The Cubs* should be ready to do it now, even though they aren’t competitors, but it will be easier for them in the off-season, when they’re not competing with the contenders who want to get a Soto down stretch.
- Heyman doesn’t stop there, he also has ‘unconfirmed speculation’ that the Nats will be looking for ‘top four prospects and/or young senior players’ and possibly in preparation to take Patrick Corbyn’s bloated contract. Needs a thought for the Cubs – what’s that, Hoerner, Steele, Davis, and PCA? for Soto and Corbin’s money? Agreed. Which means it’s not enough.
- In separate writing, Heyman calls Padres an “early favourite,” because Padres still had the young players to strike a deal with Soto. The hard part is that Padres will try very hard not to include Fernando Tates Jr., and the idea is to pair them both, so who knows if they can actually seal the deal. Also, the Padres amazed me as a team that is unlikely to spend what it takes to absorb Soto and Corbin, let alone keep Soto long-term, without changing something else important.
- Padres pieces include CJ Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, and more. Yankees tops include Anthony Volpe, Oswald Perazza, Ken Waldichuk, and more. But what about angels? Could they be doing something like crazy? For the Dodgers, well, they make just as much sense as any team out there. They have the money to keep Soto, they have the young players to make a deal, and they have a history of acquiring (and then expanding) the best young talent in baseball, most recently including the Mookie Betts. And who knows, you might see Turner, too.
- Like…include SHOHEI Ohtani? In case you missed it, Ohtani (one of the only equivalent talents in this entire generation), is in theory also on the trading block. Perhaps these teams can swap stars and see if mixing the group will change their luck – both in terms of winning but also in terms of getting an extension.
- The problem here is that Rendon, who is 32, is worth $152 million from 2023 to 2026… and he hasn’t done so well a couple of years ago (the Citizens had a chance to keep it, too). Joe Adele hasn’t come close to living up to the hype. And this deal does not contain the money of citizens, including Patrick Corbyn. Ohtani is clearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I just think the Nats would be better off with a deal built around a TON of young talent and dumping a bunch of money. Something that makes them sellers, not buyers.
- Here’s David Aldridge discussing Soto’s dilemma, from the citizens’ perspective, urging them to increase their bid to $13/481 million or $12/444 (basically, admitting that Soto needs to get $37 million in AAV to be the undisputed best) are paid in MLB).
I’m sure there will be many, many more coming soon.