7:41 am: There is a “growing sense” that the Padres are the most likely landing site for not only Soto, but also Josh Bell, tweets Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. There is some momentum in those conversations, he adds. Likewise, the Post’s Jesse Dougherty tweets that the Nationals are starting to shrink the field.
San Diego already has that Eric Hosmer installed at first base, but they’ve been trying for over a year to release the rest of that contract. Speculatively speaking, if the Nats really want to maximize returns on Soto (and maybe Bell), they could be the ones to take on the remaining three years and $39 million on Hosmer’s contract themselves. Hosmer’s trio, Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasbourg would of course be a lot of underwater contracts for one team, but the Nats have little else on the payroll for the foreseeable future.
7:12 AM: Major League Baseball’s trading deadline is now less than 12 hours away, and the John Soto trading 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 heavily involved. Of course, that doesn’t rule out another team (or teams) jumping in to make a late push; it would honestly be a surprise if that didn’t happen. Teams will miss out on other goals, priorities will change, and stances on “forbidden” prospects will relax.
Until now, a sticking point for the Cardinals has been their reluctance to take on a young outfielder Dylan Carlson and their very best prospects, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets. Carlson, 23, is known to be of interest to the Nats as a direct outfield plug-in, and as a former first-round pick and top-10 overall prospect (according to Baseball America), that’s not surprising — even if he has been more of a regular than a star in his young career so far. The switch-hitting Carlson hits .260/.334/.426 dating back to last season, and he has significantly lowered his strikeout percentage this season.
Carlson can be controlled four more years after the current season and is able to tackle all three outfield spots. There may be a sense that given his youth and heritage, he has another gear that he hasn’t tapped into yet. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman, further obscuring the possibility of Cardinals, suggests Washington may not be as high on lefty Matthew Liberatore like others in the industry; Jim Bowden of the Athletic wrote something similar a few weeks ago.
As for the Padres, the health of one of their own best young poor, southpaw MacKenzie Gore, is a possible complication. Gore is out with an elbow injury. He is 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. Meanwhile, the Padres are now over the luxury tax threshold after their stunning addition of Josh Hader yesterday. They have reportedly been reluctant to cross that line for a second consecutive season. However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggests that if it means acquiring both Hader and Soto, the Padres “won’t mind blowing completely past” the tax line.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers have become increasingly optimistic about their chances in recent days, according to Jack Harris of the LA Times. The Dodgers’ perennially deep farm system is full of top prospects — they currently have seven of Baseball America’s top 100 farmhands — and they also have verifiable young majors that might be of interest. Both Harris and Heyman suggest infielder Gavin Lux (four more years of team control) and righty Dustin May (near return from the Tommy John operation, with three years of control left) as potential targets for Washington.
It was reported yesterday morning that the Yankees were a “long shot”, the Rangers would not be particularly aggressive, and Mariners president Jerry Dipoto had officially suggested that his team is unlikely to land Soto. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Guardians watched Soto, but the talks never caught on. Washington was interested in Cleveland’s best pitching prospect daniel espinobut health was again a factor in the discussions, as he has been out since April due to a knee injury.