The Tuesday Discussion: Juan Soto?
This week we posed the following to our writers:
It seems that Juan Soto is available. What would you be willing to trade to get him on the Yankees? Then, how much, and for how long would you be willing to spend to keep him in pinstripes?
Here are their responses:
Paul Semendinger - This is a tough one. A very tough one. It seems that Juan Soto turned down a 15 year deal worth $440 million. In short, he turned down $29.3 million a year for the next... forever.
Soto is just 23-years-old. A 15-year deal would basically cover him through his age-39 season. In his two full (150+ game) seasons, he has averaged about .298/32/103. He also walks a lot.
He hasn't yet even entered his prime. The team that acquires him should get about seven prime years out of him. I'd expect his age 26-32 years will be off the charts good. After that, I'd expect a regression. (If or when the Yankees resign Aaron Judge, they should expect two to three good to great years before a regression. Soto's age, here, is the key. He's 23!)
If he were a Yankee, I'd consider offering him a nice big round number - $500 million. 15 years, $500 million. That would be $33.33m a year. I'd have to assume that his years from 2023 through 2032 would more than pay for themselves. We'd then watch his slow decline, but, I'd also have to assume that he'd stay somewhat productive until the last few years of the contract. By then, 12 to 15 years from now, who knows? All bets are off. I'd have to be able to make the long term deal first before I make a trade. That would have to be part of the deal.
The problem with Soto is that he's not the greatest fielder. And he plays right field. The Yankees have a guy at that position already. This would feel like when the Yankees got Alex Rodriguez. Would Juan Soto be willing to move to left field (can he play left field?) to accommodate Aaron Judge? Or would Judge move to left? (I can't see the Yankees keeping Judge in center long term.)
My play would be to go all in. Make the big offer to Soto. Then make a generous offer to keep Judge here (since they're going all-in... offer Judge 8 years at $35m) and then figure out the rest regarding the positions these two would play. (Judge deserves a higher annual value contract than Soto for all he means to the organization, but Soto, because of his age, gets the years.)
And, if the choice is Soto for the next fifteen years or Judge for the next eight, then you get Soto for fifteen. If you need to choose one or the other, you take the younger guy. Period.
As for who to trade for Soto? The Nationals will want the sun and the stars and the moon. I'd give them almost anyone. They'll want young talent... that, to me, just means minor leaguers. If any of the top five Yankees hitters become Juan Soto, that would be amazing. And, it's not likely. At all. (Just think... Anthony Volpe is 21-years-old and a year or so away, maybe more. Soto is only two years older than him and has already arrived on the big stage and performed with excellence.) I'd give the Nationals any two of their Top-10 prospects, a Top-50, and another Top-100. That's four big chances for them. That wouldn't gut the system, but it would be a stiff price to pay. If the Nationals wanted a few other low level picks, that would also be fine. Look back at all the Yankees' top prospect lists from past years - how many of those players became as good as Juan Soto already is? Not many, at all, ever.
Soto would be a star in New York. He'd be a legend. Get him.
Ed Botti - A very tough question, one that I have considered before (when he turned down $350 Million). If he stays healthy Soto could be a monster at Yankee Stadium.
It’s a risk vs. reward situation.
Any trade for Juan Soto will start with 2, or most likely 3, of these 4: Jasson Dominguez, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe and Ken Waldichuk.
I would not be willing to trade 3 of those players plus a major leaguer or 2 for any player that has already turned down $350 million, and now $440 million. It is not that I believe all 4 will be Hall of Famers. No. the Yankees would be lucky if 2 of them actually stick.
Scouting reports on Dominguez are through the roof. He is a future asset at the MLB level.
He is only 19 years old. Volpe and Peraza look like they are getting closer every day, and Waldichuk continues to impress.
Soto is a great player, for sure. He has youth on his side (23), bats lefty, and has proven he can play on the biggest stage (he hit .333 in the 2019 World Series with 3 HR and 7 RBI). What is there not to like?
For one, he is represented by Scott Boros. I have my opinions on Boros. I will leave it at that.
Secondly, where is he going to play? I doubt the Nationals will take Gallo and/or Hicks. It is possible as “throw ins”, but not likely. Do you want them to try and include Stanton? That’s not happening for numerous reasons. Lastly and most importantly, the money it will take to keep him is over the top insane, and it will absolutely impact what the team can or will spend on the other 25 players for years to come (maybe even 15 years).
They already have Judge and Stanton. How many more Zillionaires do you need in your outfield to win?
If a team trades away a good chunk of their future for one player, you had better hope you get more than 2 ½ season and 3 playoff pushes out of the player. Boros and Soto have made it crystal clear they will test free agency in 2024. That’s a roll of the dice I am not interested in.
Hindsight being 20/20, do you think the Mets would sign Lindor and his .243 average for 10 years at $34 Million a season? No matter how SNY spins it, NO.
I would pay Judge, make moves for 2022 (starting pitcher, lefty contact hitting outfielder and an actual SS- I am not criticizing IKF, but he does not have a SS arm- as I have said since April) and go for it all now.
Soto is great player. No doubt about it. But, he is not the greatest player to walk the face of the earth. He has a lifetime .293 average while averaging 34 HR and 104 RBI a season.
Excellent career so far, for sure.
There are others, who will not want a half of a billion dollars, that could be acquired via free agency in the near future such a Rafael Devers who is a lifetime .286 hitter and averages 34 HR and 108 RBI a season while playing a corner infield position. He also has youth on his side (25), is a winner, and is also a lefty. Very similar stats, plus they can remove him from Boston. A double victory after 2024.
I’d rather see them go for Ohtani this season over Soto. I hear he may actually be available.
In conclusion: I would not break the bank. They are running away with the best record in the league, and can secure it with 2 or 3 deadline pickups. What is important right now is 2022. They do not need Soto in 2022 or even 2023 to win it all. By the time 2024 rolls around, they may already have their next big star on the roster at a very reasonable rate, and can add players to continue the teams goal of winning it all each year!
Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to the plan in 2022!
Cary Greene - Mark me down as not wanting the Yankees to trade for Juan Soto. Soto is a good offensive right fielder but besides the obvious ludicrous financial commitment to a team already overextended in this department despite being unable to extend its own right fielder - Aaron Judge, there are a couple of other reasons that trading for Soto is a horrible idea for the Yankees to even remotely consider. Not only would the Yankees have to completely gut the farm system to successfully trade for Soto, he’s just not worth the contract, he’s a bad defensive right fielder, a poor base runner, and he hits into too many double plays. Hard Pass!
It's not that Scott Boras will be too hard to deal with in order for whichever team winds up trading for Soto either. There is a swirling take among Mets and Yankees fans currently that a trade for Soto would be a waste because it'd be another Max Scherzer to the Dodgers type scenario where top prospects are flushed down the drain simply for a rental player. Soto has two and a half years of team control and more than likely, any team who did trade for him would do so with the intent to extend him. I don't fear that aspect of a trade for Soto.
It comes down to current priorities and timing more than anything. Yankees are trying to win a World-Series right now. There is zero chance Cashman prioritizes stripping his farm system simply in order to make a big splash. Cashman needs to focus on reinforcing the pitching with an eye towards the postseason. From June to July, Yankees Starters saw their ERA rise from 3.55 to 4.13 and the bullpen's ERA over the same stretch went from a stellar 2.05 to 3.94. Cashman has pitching issues to address or this team isn't going to be winning a world series.
If the plan is to continue riding Wandy Peralta, Mike King, and Clay Holmes heavily from now until the playoffs begin, all three will likely be burned out by then. Pitching is what will decide the 2022 postseason, just as it has done so historically, over the past 117 years of World Series play and the Yankees badly need reinforcements.
Besides, how many right fielders does one team need? The Yankees presently have Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Carpenter, and Marwin Gonzalez. Even if Cashman is able to find a team willing to take Gallo on for half a season, the Yankees need clearly isn’t in right field.
IF the Yankees are able to re-sign Judge, he's not a viable center fielder over the course of 8 to 10 year deal. He'll likely need to slide over to left field some, while also moving back to right field depending. At 36, Matt Carpenter is a short term option who can help out in the Yankee outfield. Stanton is also playing more outfield these days too. If anything, the Yankees should be looking to add a center fielder and highly doubt that at this year's August 2nd Deadline, that Cashman will be able to acquire a player who is a long term fix at the position. Therefore, over the second-half of the season, something needs to be done to ease the amount of running Judge is doing.
Moving Judge to both corners more makes sense, but only if Aaron Hicks can be platooned with a suitable stop-gap player. Sure, it would be nice if the Yankees could pull off a trade for Cedric Mullins (who is the best fit of all the trade targets) but the Orioles aren't remotely interested in moving him, much less within the division.
Personally, i think Cashman should forget about Soto and trade with Kansas City for Michael A. Taylor, then get him vaccinated for Covid ASAP. Another plan might be to overpay for Chicago's Ian Happ and then rely heavily on Aaron Hicks to play more center field over the second half of the season, using Happ as a spare outfielder. I'm not buying that Cashman and the Yankees have also lost interest in trading for Andrew Benintendi. It's all a ploy to keep Benintendi's value in check. Any team that wanted Benintendi would simply need to get him vaccinated pronto. That's easily done. But bravo to Cashman for all the posturing, he's been very opportunistic.
Happ is an infinitely better defender than Juan Soto is and while Happ is very expensive to trade for - in terms of prospect cost, at least he's somewhat realistic. I doubt Cashman will ultimately even go for Happ - not if he has to part with Oswald Peraza to make the deal and he certainly would have to do that.
I think Cashman may have to get more resourceful at the Deadline because trading for pitching is expensive right now and Cashman is absolutely hugging his prospects these days, so much so that I'll proclaim there is no chance at all, meaning ZERO-CHANCE that Cashman even bothers to make an offer on Soto. I absolutely think he'll fake a high level of interest, mainly to drive Soto's price up for rival teams who might actually be in on him (like the Dodgers or Padres).
Over the next two-weeks, the New York media on the other hand will happily propose all sorts of possible deals for Juan Soto and we'll no doubt be highly entertained as the Juan Soto to New York saga unfolds, legless as the actuality of that happening actually is.
Ethan Semendinger - Juan Soto should be a Yankee. That's it. Name me another player who is: 23 years old, is averaging 5.5+ WAR per (full) season, has had very little of an injury history, is a left-handed bat, and would- honestly- not be a crazy contract to have on the team when all things are considered.
Juan Soto will be the first $500 Million man in baseball. Spread that out of 15 years (starting in 2023) and the Yankees would sign him from his age 24 through his age 38 season. All of this would also be coming at an AAV of $33.3 Million. To put that into perspective, fans of the Yankees are chomping at the bit to have them sign a 30-year-old outfielder to a 7-year contract that would pay him MORE per year, for a player with a WORSE injury history, whose contract would include his POST-PEAK years. Yes, I'm belittling what Aaron Judge means to the Yankees, but on a strictly business-level there is no question which contract is better: 15/$500M for Juan Soto FAR outweighs 7/$245M for Aaron Judge.
I'd make that day every single day of the week. I'd make that deal twice on Sunday, and once while I'm taking a post-work power-nap.
But, what would it take to get the Nationals to move on from him? A lot. According to some industry "experts" it would take some combination of young MLB players, up to a teams top-4 prospects, and taking on a major contract (Corbin or Strasburg) from the Nationals. Personally, I think the Yankees should be willing to take on Stephen Strasburg if it means that getting Juan Soto would come cheaper.
Think of a deal that looks like this:
Juan Soto (+176.8 MTV) & Stephen Strasburg (-151.2 MTV) = +25.60 MTV
Aaron Hicks (-25.7 MTV), Oswald Peraza (20.3 MTV), Everson Periera (+16.8 MTV), Ken Waldichuk (+9.9 MTV), Austin Wells (+8.3 MTV), Estevan Florial (+3.4 MTV) = +33.00 MTV
This gives the Nationals 4 good-to-great prospects, a cheap outfielder to replace Soto, and a lottery outfield prospect in Florial. By taking on Strasburg, the cost comes WAY down and the Nationals wouldn't have the power to ask for the moon. Instead, they'd be getting value and a chance to restart the team as the team gets sold/new owners are looking to come in.
Yes, the Yankees would be adding (with a $33.3M ATV contract for Soto) approximately $70 million in just Soto and Strasburg. HOWEVER, they have plenty of money coming off of the books in Aaron Judge ($19M), Aroldis Chapman ($16M), Zack Britton ($14M), and Joey Gallo ($10.75M). Also, yes. Getting Juan Soto means no more Aaron Judge.
It's worth it. Give me Juan Soto.
James Vlietstra - The Juan Soto situation is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Nothing seems to make sense. Everyone on Twitter thinks they are an expert, but their proposals and scenarios are delusional. Even the leaked contract offer is off. They offered him a 15 year $440M contract. That would bring him from age 24-38 at an AAV of $29M. Definitely a solid offer, but he’s probably looking more for a 10 year $440 and would opt out at 29 looking for 10 years at Only God knows how much.
He is making $17.1M in 2022 so any team trading for him is taking on $8M this year and 2 additional years of control, which he will likely make $25M in arbitration next year and $35M in 2024 as a 25 year old in his walk year.
Aaron Judge is likely going to set the outfield salary record this fall between $38-41M a year. Soto will want to top that as a free agent in 2025 as a 26 year old looking for a 14 year contract at $43M per for slightly more than $600M.
So getting back to the present, the Nationals are going to field offers for 2 1/2 years of control. These trade calculators and MLB insiders are saying that the Yankees top 5 prospects are not enough for Soto so they would piggyback Patrick Corbin as salary relief.
There’s no way I am doing either end of that proposal. Corbin is owed $70M between now and 2024, when his contract is up. Over the last 2 years he has a 13-28 record, 5.84 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, ERA+ of 68, and WAR of -2.5. Not taking him back.
Soto will also be earning close to $70M over the next 2 1/2 years. Not exactly cheap and probably eliminates 20 teams from even considering. So yes you are trading for a great talent, MLB proven and hasn’t even entered his prime yet. It’ll cost a lot of talent but not 5-6 players, all on the top 100 lists.
I’d be looking to clear up some logjams at positions and on the 40 man roster. Volpe, Dominguez, Pereira, and Waldichuk I’m keeping. I love Medina, but he’s out of options after this year. A trade for this caliber of player is going to hurt, Nestor Cortes is an all star left handed with 3 1/2 years of control. Peraza is a top 40 player shortstop. Austin Wells is a top 70 catcher. Medina is a top 150 pitcher. Miguel Andujar was the runner up ROY, and Brandon Lockridge is their next best outfielder. So Cortes, Wells, Peraza, Andujar, Medina, and Lockridge for Soto. 4 players on the 40 man roster and a Rule 5 eligible. Mix of positions LHP, SS, C, RHP, OF, 3B/OF.
If trading away Cortes, I am immediately looking to replace him with Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. Randy Vasquez, Hayden Wesneski, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Estevan Florial. 2 40 man and 2 Rule 5 eligible.
Florial is never going to play with Soto in the mix. Between the two trades, we would be shipping out 8 top 30 players without gutting the system. That’s exactly what a farm system is for, to improve the big league club. This would also clear up four 40 man spots, which would allow you to protect Ken Waldichuk, Alexander Vargas, Antonio Gomez, TJ Sikkema, and likely Anthony Seigler.
The rotation would be Cole, Castillo, Taillon, Montgomery, and a mix of German, Schmidt, Sears, and Severino once healthy.
The lineup would be LeMahieu, Judge, Rizzo, Soto, Stanton, Torres, Carpenter, Kiner-Falefa, Trevino. Hicks, Donaldson, Gonzalez, and Higashioka on the bench.
Mike Whiteman - If I'm Brian Cashman, I'd "kick the tires" on Soto now, but would not disrupt the team as currently constituted to get him. Alas, this isn't a fantasy/Strat-O-Matic team we can just add great stats to. The Yanks have a good thing going this year, and I would be concerned about messing with it too much. I also have concerns about his "signability" with his agent being Scott Boras. Would Soto even consider an extension now? He just turned down a whopper of an offer. You can't pay the assumed high trade price for him without assurances of signing him.
I think another window will open to acquire Soto in the offseason or at free agency, and Cashman can go all-in at that point. Soto's a generational talent, with his baseball-reference comparables including Mike Trout, Frank Robinson, Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera and .....Mickey Mantle. So, the Yanks have to consider him, and will need to trade a lot, and pay him a lot.