Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is now less than 12 hours away, and John Soto a business opportunity that has captivated the entire sport and its fan base remains unresolved. As of yesterday, the Soto auction was widely believed to be a three-team bidding war, with the Padres, Cardinals and Dodgers all believed to be heavily involved. That doesn’t preclude another team (or teams) from jumping in to make a late push, of course; it would honestly be a bit of a surprise if it didn’t happen. Teams will miss out on other targets, priorities will shift and attitudes to the prospect of “outside” will soften.
Up until this point, the Cardinals’ problem has been that they don’t want to bring in a young outfielder Dylan Carlson and their very best prospect, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweet. The 23-year-old Carlson is known to interest the Nats as a plug-in outfielder, and as a former first-round pick and top-10 overall prospect (per Baseball America), it’s no surprise — even if he’s been a more solid regular than star so far in his young career. Carlson, a switch-hitter, is hitting .260/.334/.426 dating back to last season, and he has dropped his slugging percentage quite a bit this season.
Carlson can be managed for four more years beyond the current season and is capable of handling all three outfield positions. There is perhaps a sense that, given his youth and pedigree, he has another gear that he has yet to use. Jon Heyman of the New York Post , who shoots even further for the Cardinals’ potential, suggests that Washington may not be as high on the left wing. Matthew Liberatore like others in the industry; The Athletic’s Jim Bowden wrote something similar a few weeks ago.
Turning to the Padres, the health of one of their own top young arms, a southpaw MacKenzie Gore, is a potential complication. Gore has been shut down with a sprained elbow. He’s expected to avoid surgery, but the specter of an arm injury for a potential key pitcher in the deal has certainly changed the Nats’ valuation. The Padres, meanwhile, are now over the luxury tax threshold after their incredible addition Josh Hader yesterday. It is said that they did not want to cross that line for the second season in a row. However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale notes that if it means acquiring both Hader and Soto, the Padres “won’t mind completely blowing past” the tax line.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers have grown increasingly optimistic about their chances in recent days, according to Jack Harris of the LA Times. The Dodgers’ perennially deep farm system is loaded with top prospects — they currently have seven of the top 100 farmhands in Baseball America — and they also have manageable young major leaguers to tap into. Both Harris and Heyman suggest insiders Gavin Lux (four more years of team management) and righty Dustin May (close to returning from Tommy John surgery, with three more years to go) as potential targets for Washington.
As of yesterday morning, the Yankees were reported to be a “long shot,” the Rangers weren’t said to be particularly aggressive, and Mariners president Jerry Dipoto had gone on record suggesting his team was unlikely to land Soto. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds to the list of teams that inquired but appear unlikely to be serious players, reporting that the Guardians looked at Soto but talks never materialized. Washington was interested in Cleveland’s top offensive tackle Daniel Espinobut health was again a factor in the talks as he has been sidelined since April with a knee injury.