It is not secret that Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is on the trade market after turning down a couple of massive extension offers. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are rumored to be in the mix, but could the SF Giants emerge as a dark horse candidate for Soto?
Rumor: Are the SF Giants sleepers to acquire superstar outfielder at MLB trade deadline?
Jon Morosi of the MLB Network speculated that the Giants could be a possible sleeper as they are in need of star power:
The 23-year-old outfielder certainly checks that box as he has been one of the very best hitters in baseball since debuting with the Nationals in his age-19 season in 2018.
The 2022 season has been no different for Soto as he has slashed .243/.403/475 (154 OPS+) with 20 home runs, 45 RBI, and 60 runs in 432 plate appearances while earning his second straight National League All-Star bid. This includes a 14.4 percent walk rate against a 20.4 percent strikeout rate.
Some might point to his .243 batting average as a sign that he is having a down year, but it bears mentioning that he is in a lineup with very little protection. Opposing teams rarely pitch to him because the rest of the lineup cannot do any damage. Plus, if having a 154 OPS+ is a down year, then I would be excited to see what a good year entails.
I would add caution in any trade talks for Soto. Are the Giants interesting in the star outfielder? Absolutely, but so is nearly every other team in baseball.
The Dodgers, Padres, and St. Louis Cardinals have frequently been tabbed as the favorites for Soto. The information regarding the Giants likely has some substance to it. As Morosi indicates their need for superstar talent after swinging and missing on Bryce Harper a couple of offseasons ago.
However, the Nationals could be using this interest as leverage as well. Given that the Padres and the Dodgers are involved, neither team would want to see Soto go to a division rival like the Giants.
Could this be an effort for the Dodgers and Padres to up the ante in trade talks? It certainly feels that way, but there is probably plenty of truth to the Giants' interest as well. I mean, why would they not be interested in a talent like Soto?