The latest on the market by Juan Soto

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Since then, the Nationals have emerged as willing to continue entertaining trade offers Juan Soto, the whole baseball world became obsessed with finding out where he could go and what a fair trade would even look like. That is unlikely to change as Soto rumors are sure to continue flying every day until the August 2 deadline unless a trade is completed earlier.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently took a look at the situation and outlined that Soto is arguably the most attractive trading chip in recent memory, or maybe ever. Given his talent, youth and years of control left, just about any team will call the Nats and get a sense of what kind of deal they want to make.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that discussions have started and, unsurprisingly, Soto is attracting widespread interest. He lists the Mariners, Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees and Mets as seven teams that have already opened lines of communication with Washington.

None of these are particularly surprising as all seven have been listed by Adams as the most appropriate. There is one potential complicating factor in the talks, with The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reporting that the Nationals are looking to combine with Soto Patrick Corbin trading to get Corbin’s contract off their books. As an added detail, The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty looks at the pros and cons of including Corbin in the deal, adding that Corbin has a partial non-trade clause. Still, Dougherty adds that this won’t prevent a deal from happening, meaning either Corbin’s clause is minimal enough not to include the main contenders, or he might be willing to waive the clause and move on to a new one Club to switch Soto.

While the Nationals are certainly open to moving Corbin and out of his contract, it’s unclear how important that is to them. Signing a six-year, $140 million deal before 2019, the first season was a roaring success. Corbin pitched 202 innings with a 3.25 ERA, then added another 23 1/3 frames in the postseason as the Nats won the first World Series title in franchise history. Since then, however, things have essentially gone downhill, with Corbin’s strikeouts fading and ERA escalating. After deletion rates of 30.8% in 2018 and 28.5% in 2019, he hovered around 20% in the three following seasons. His ERA shot up to 4.66 in 2020, then 5.82 last year and 5.87 this year.

As for Corbin’s contract, he was heavily backloaded. His salary this year is $23.42 million, leaving about $8 million to be paid out as of the deadline. Then next year it will make $24.42 million and make a big jump to $35.42 in 2024. That’s the final year of the deal, though there’s also $10 million in deferred money that needs to be paid out between November 2024 and January 2026.

The combination of Corbin’s poor performance and high salary gives him negative trade value. Therefore, any combo trade between Corbin and Soto will result in the Nationals getting back a smaller potential package than a trade involving only Soto. On the surface, it seems odd that the Nats would be highly motivated for such a scenario. Dealing with Soto means giving up on being competitive until 2024 anyway, so getting Corbin’s contract off the books for this season shouldn’t be a high priority. With Soto out of the picture, the only other meaningful salary they’ll pay in 2024 and beyond will go Stephen Strasbourg, making $35 million per year by 2026. Spending $70 million on Strasburg and Corbin in 2024 is certainly not ideal, but the rest of the roster will likely be filled with pre-arb players or those who just qualified and earned minimal increases. The club had a payroll of $183 million per Cot’s Baseball Contracts last year and has already reduced it to $135 million this year.

But if the Nats are actually motivated to take that money off the ledger early, it will change the calculus of which teams make the most sense as trading partners. The receiving side teams receive two significant salaries as Soto is well paid himself. He’s making $17.1 million this year and is due for arbitration increases over the next two campaigns, potentially near the $25 million range next year and over $30 million for 2024 while he’s healthy remains. Even for the remainder of this campaign, Soto will have about $6 million left to cash out at the time of the deadline. That, along with the roughly $8 million owed to Corbin, adds $14 million to this year’s payroll for any team that acquires both.

As Steve Adams pointed out in the article linked above, all seven teams Nightengale lists have young players who could lead a return in a Soto deal. However, the prospect of taking Corbin in return could be more exciting for some than others. The Padres crossed the luxury tax line last year and were squarely opposed to it this year, seemingly reluctant to cross it for a second straight season and thus faced escalating penalties. They have been rumored to be trying to trade in one of their pitchers to make room on the payroll for additions elsewhere. Suddenly acquiring another expensive starter that doesn’t serve well would go against those plans. Though perhaps Soto’s availability is such a unique situation that she has to reconsider everything.

The Cardinals had opening-day payrolls of $155 million per cot’s, down slightly from their all-time record of $164 million. Adding $14 million to get into record territory is probably an acceptable result this year, but would get complicated in the years to come. Adam WainwrightThe $17.5 million deal is the largest deal to come off the books at the end of the year, but based on precedent there would likely be mutual interest in another deal. He’s having another excellent season and would likely land a similar deal. Jadier Molina‘s $10 million is off the books, although Soto and Corbin would add about $50 million and the Cards have yet to find a fix behind the record.

The Mets already have a massive payroll, but don’t seem to have any restrictions on that. Owner Steve Cohen has expressed his willingness to invest beyond the fourth CBT hurdle, which the club has already surpassed. Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez calculates his CBT number at $290.1M, a touch above the $290M line. Regardless of the financial position, however, the question is whether the Nats have an interest in trading Soto within the division. SNY’s Andy Martino reports that Soto’s landing with the Mets is extremely unlikely because the Nats aren’t very keen on seeing Soto return to Washington in a new uniform as often.

The Giants and Mariners may be in a better position than these other teams to earn a significant salary to land Soto. The Giants had opening-day payrolls of $155 million per cot’s but had jumped to $201 million a few years ago. They also have some decent cash off the books this winter. Carlo Rodon earns $21.5 million and may opt out if he reaches 110 innings. Given that he’s currently at 105 and having another terrific season, he’s a virtual ban to trigger that opt-out. Brandon belt accepted the qualifying offer of $18.4 million and will return to the open market in a few months. Brandon Crawford makes $16 million this year and next, but will be a free agent thereafter. The only guaranteed contract they have on the books for 2024 is the $12 million owed Anthony DeSclafani. The Mariners opened the year at $104 million per cot, but have hovered in the $150-$160 range in recent years.

As for the Yankees and Dodgers, they both have franchise-high payrolls but still like the idea of ​​Corbin’s contract being involved. Recent reports suggest both clubs are wary of decimating their farm systems to acquire Soto despite his talents. Corbin’s acquisition and downsizing of the potential strike should appeal to both clubs.

Of course, all of this still appears to be exploratory on the part of the Nationals. Getting rid of Corbin’s money certainly has its appeal, but they also have to weigh that against the offers they’re getting that don’t involve Corbin. If a team offers, say, six good prospects but doesn’t want Corbin, would the Nats really take a lesser package just to get Corbin out the door? There is at least some precedent since the Red Sox are included David Price in which Mookie Betts act. The situations aren’t entirely analogous, however, as the Red Sox had overstayed the luxury tax the previous two seasons and were primarily interested in tearing down their roster for the cost cuts. For the Nats, they’re already operating on a budget well below previous seasons and should, in theory, be more concerned with maximizing their potential return on any Soto deal.

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