Ken Rosenthal: “Juan Soto Is Available”

One of the most sound reporters in the sport put it as plainly as that at the top of his latest. It’s jarring to see, but there have been rumors before, and now it seems on surer footing. Like, really sure footing.

One of the best young players in the sport could be traded soon:

Honestly, I jumped – actual jump – out of my chair when I saw Rosenthal’s report on my phone, and sprinted to my computer. That’s how consequential this is.

Per Rosenthal, the Nationals have made three different extension offers to Soto in recent months, none of which have been accepted. The latest was a 15-year, $440 million mega-offer, which didn’t include any deferred money. Even for a 23-year-old superstar, that … well, that feels like a mighty fair offer.

Having rejected that one, I could see why the Nationals might now throw up their hands and say OK, fine, time to trade him. It’s blowing my mind, but it seems real, according to Rosenthal’s reporting.

So now the big question: will the Nationals find the right offer before the Trade Deadline, or will this be a situation that carries into the offseason? You have to hope, as a Cubs fan, that it’s the latter, since the theoretical price tag a competitive team would be willing to pay right now “should be” higher than for a team out of the race like the Cubs.

… but, man, if the Nationals were determined to trade him right now, how could you sit it out if you were the Cubs? 2022 be damned, man. Even if you’re “overpaying” since you get no 2022 value, this might be the only chance to get a player like Soto. Maybe his new team does figure out a way to extend him, and that’s that.

The price tag in trade will be comical, even after he rejected a massive extension. To be sure, that’ll probably dampen the return a little, since the acquiring team has to be thinking to itself, “So … it’s gonna take $500 million, isn’t it?” But you’re still talking about a situation where the Nationals are going to be able to command one of the largest/most-impactful trade packages in recent memory.

That also means, even if you’re willing to risk it all and send an over-the-top package, the Nationals may simply prefer the return from some other team. I certainly hope the Cubs get involved in the conversation, but theirs is a farm system full of quality depth. That tends not to be what gets the deal done for a true superstar. Instead, multiple tip-top impact pieces – maybe even including some at the big league level – would be required to get this done. The Cubs do have “enough” to merit a Soto return, but there are other orgs that could, if they were willing, put together better on-paper offers.

I don’t want to go TOO far down the rabbit hole of getting into specifics until we get a better sense on whether the Nationals are shopping Soto RIGHT NOW, or if they’re waiting to see if they get bowled over before the deadline, and then will more aggressively shop him this offseason. As I said, there are other orgs that “should” be more interested now than the Cubs … but this is a 23-year-old superstar. Soto is a career .292/.427/.540/151 wRC+ hitter DESPITE his young age. There aren’t many players in baseball who can single-handedly transform a lineup, but he is one of them.

Soto is not a free agent until after 2024, so you would be acquiring at least two full seasons. But obviously you would be desiring, quite strongly, to retain him thereafter on a monster extension.

The Cubs are as well-positioned financially as most to make a massive long-term commitment to a young player, and a trade for Juan Soto is absolutely something they should look into. Immediately.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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