Lukewarm Stove: Nats Won't Attach Corbin to Soto, Padres-Cubs Smoke, Pumping the Cardinals-Soto Brakes? Montas and Castillo, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Nats Won’t Attach Corbin to Soto, Padres-Cubs Smoke, Pumping the Cardinals-Soto Brakes? Montas and Castillo, More

Chicago Cubs

Usually, the nightmares start when I go to bed, not when I wake up. But today? We started our morning with a bucket of ice water and an even colder slap to the face: The Cardinals and Nationals are reportedly exchanging names on a Juan Soto Trade.

You can check out the post for all the details, but that story made me ruminate on all of the massive traded the Cardinals have pulled off over the years: Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Adam Wainwright, Mark McGwire, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Matt Holliday, Jason Heyward, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and they also had a deal lined up for Giancarlo Stanton before he shot it down with his no-trade clause.

The more recent deals also make me wonder if they’ve identified a bit of a market inefficiency in trading for stars during an era in which teams are overvaluing prospects. Something to think about.

No Patrick Corbin in the Soto Deal?

Pervasive in the wake of Juan Soto rumors has been the idea of Washington attaching a struggling (6.02 ERA) and expensive ($59M due after this season with a $23M salary this year) Patrick Corbin to the trade. Even though that would necessarily weaken the return for Soto, I had understood the logic IF the Nationals were committed to spending those savings this offseason.

But ever since the Cardinals got involved I have changed my tune. If they really are going to get Soto I don’t want them to be able to reduce the prospect cost by taking on Corbin. And it seems my prayers have been answered.

Thank all the baseball gods. If that team in St. Louis is going to get Soto, it better freakin’ HURT.

Pumping the Cardinals-Soto Brakes?

But for what it’s worth, while The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is confirming that the Cardinals have explored trades for Juan Soto, there is some brake-pumping:

Three sources outside the Cardinals familiar with the trade market described the Cardinals as best positioned with prospects to make a bid for Soto. The Cardinals have recently adopted a more conservative approach at the deadline. There also is the clear benefit of the Nats setting a high price at the trade deadline to see if a team’s urgency takes over and, if not met, the likelihood Soto remains with the Nationals until an offseason auction.

The Cardinals’ focus has been on their glaring need: pitching.

But don’t get too excited just yet. Because in that same article, there’s a discussion of the Cardinals eyeing the surprisingly available, talented, and cost-controlled Tarik Skubal from the Tigers. That’s not at the same level of Soto, of course, but Skubal is very good and is exactly what the Cardinals need. Skubal, 25, is under control through the 2026 season.

So … Padres and Cubs, Then?

At The Athletic, a staff of writers came together to discuss their informed trade deadline predictions. It’s a really enjoyable read, especially because it includes a Cardinals section NOT about them trading for Soto, a Nationals section about Soto going to the Yankees, and Cubs section about them making a big deal with the Padres via Patrick Mooney

The Cubs will make a trade with the Padres, following a pattern that goes back several years …. Given A.J. Preller’s aggressive track record in San Diego, and the availability of All-Stars Willson Contreras and Ian Happ plus several experienced Cubs pitchers, it would be more surprising if both sides didn’t find another match by the Aug. 2 deadline.

that was reciprocated in the Padres section by Dennis Lin:

The Padres acquire Willson Contreras. … Predicting what A.J. Preller will do is often a futile exercise. The Padres’ president of baseball operations routinely pursues every big name imaginable, even ones who might not appear available. That said, there don’t seem to be many game-changing position players on the market …. And here’s guessing that they gladly settle for Contreras, who would represent a significant offensive upgrade at the catching position. The Padres and the Cubs have an extensive history as dance partners in trade discussions, and each side can provide what the other seeks.

There is A LOT in that article worth your attention, including some confirmation of other known Cubs rumors. So check it out.

Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas

At ESPN, Jeff Passan discusses the market for the top two starting pitchers firmly on the trade market, Luis Castillo and Frankie Montas, which includes the St. Louis Cardinals: “They will both almost certainly move in the next week, and there is no shortage of interest. Among the teams hottest after them, according to sources: The St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. The Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres also have been on the hunt for pitching.”

Your hope is that the Cardinals really do prefer to add starting pitching, because while they could conceivably add a starter *and* Soto, my gut tells me they won’t empty the farm THAT much at one deadline. Indeed, Passan hears that a starter “might be the priority over even a Soto acquisition.”

With that said, there are lesser (and less costly) options available on the market that could help like Jose Quintana or Noah Syndergaard, both of whom are having fine seasons.

Odds and Ends:

  • Passan also confirms that David Robertson is the best reliever out there, with a particular focus on the Yankees, who have always felt like the No. 1 outcome IF Robertson isn’t otherwise packaged in a deal with Willson Contreras or Ian Happ.
  • Jon Heyman did the podacst thing, talking about a whole bunch of trade concepts, including the Mets and Willson Contreras.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami