John Soto‘s presence on the trade market has, in many ways, held up activity in other areas. Teams like the Cardinals and Padres, generally viewed as two of Soto’s top suitors, are also involved in the market for starting pitching. But, both are surely wary of dealing prospects to acquire a starter (eg Oakland’s Frankie Montas) if those same players might eventually be used to pry Soto loose from Washington.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan takes a lengthy look at the logjam Soto has created, writing within that the Yankees are a “long shot at best” to make a play for Soto before the deadline and suggesting that the Rangers, for now, are not a prominent bidder . That meshes with recent reporting from the New York Post’s Jon Heyman, who wrote last night that there was “no traction” between the Yankees and Nationals regarding Soto, even though the Yankees reached out as recently as yesterday evening. Heyman adds that the Nationals aren’t ace high on top prospect Anthony Volpe as the Yankees and many other clubs are, which is a complicating factor in talks.
The Padres and Cardinals are the most oft-suggested fits for Soto, and with good reason, as both are win-now clubs with deep farm systems who could offer the blend of top prospects and controllable big leaguers the Nationals seek. Passan suggests that the Dodgers are “lurking,” however, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic similarly wrote this morning that the Dodgers have maintained talks with the Nats and should not be ruled out as a potential landing spot. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale takes things a step further, tweeting that it’s actually the Dodgers — not the Cardinals or Padres — who have been making the most aggressive offers for Soto recently.
The Mariners, another regularly speculated fit for Soto, don’t appear likely to land him at this point. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto tells The Athletic’s Jim Bowden that while he checked in on Soto, he came away with the impression that there was not a realistic path to acquiring him (twitter link). Presumably, that came prior to Seattle’s Friday acquisition of louis castle — which cost the Mariners their top two prospects.
The Mets, too, have been speculatively listed as trade partners for the Nats. That’s due largely to the team’s huge payroll and aggressive past year under new owner Steve Cohen. However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Mets believed “relatively quickly in the process” that there’d be such a large market for Soto that Washington wouldn’t have to consider trading him to a rival division. That certainly looks to be the case, although if the Nats do covet the Mets’ best prospects, there’s at least a slim chance of something coming together; both Sherman and SNY’s Andy Martino report that the Mets would only move their very best prospects if it were to acquire Soto or (an even longer shot) shōhei ohtani. Both suggest reports catcher Francis Alvarez is off limits unless it’s for one of Soto or Ohtani. Sherman adds third baseman Brett Batty to that list, and Martino suggests third baseman Mark Winds is viewed similarly.
Regardless of whether Soto specifically changes hands, the market will erupt sometime between now and tomorrow’s 6pm ET deadline. The ticking clock is going to eventually drive teams into activity, and given the lack of movement thus far, we could be in for one of the most active and chaotic 24- to 30-hour spans of deadline dealing we’ve ever seen.