What might a Juan Soto trade to the SF Giants look like?
This is big news because it is very rare for one of the top ten hitters in the sport to be available via trade. And we are not just talking about a top ten hitter in the early-30s. This is a dude who is only 23 years old and still has two years of team control and the Nationals are nowhere in any form of contention after the 2019 championship squad got broken up, leaving their young superstar in a team headed for a rebuild. It is in the best interest of the Nationals to trade Soto if it means receiving a king's ransom and for Soto to play for a competitive team to take full advantage of his otherworldly bat.
Where does the San Francisco Giants come in, you might ask? Well, pretty much right in the thick of things. Juan Soto already has a lot of fans in the Bay Area (myself included) who are all ready to welcome him in open arms as the Barry Bonds of this generation. But most importantly, let's talk about money. The Giants positioned themselves to be as flexible as possible on the financial side of things with $104 million dollars in guaranteed money in 2023, $25.5 million in 2024, and $0 in 2025. Juan Soto will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2024 season. See where this is lining up? The Giants have zero committed money on their payroll when Juan Soto will hit the FA market. Other teams' fanbases think that it's two years of team control. For the Giants, however, this will be a more than a decade commitment to Juan Soto with basically all the financial freedom in the world to offer Soto a blank check once he lands in the Bay Area, a thing that not even the mighty Dodgers might possibly do.
Giants'For that to happen, a trade has to be done though. The beauty of the Giants payroll situation is that the club can fully take in a fat contract from the Nationals and still be in good shape. So even though Steven Strasburg has the biggest committed money from the Nats, he has to waive his full no-trade clause for it to happen and that takes some serious talking. It might be better to take in Patrick Corbin's contract who will earn a massive $35.4 million dollars in his final year in 2024 and a deferred $10 million in 2025. A lot of money but the Giants can definitely get it done and they will only have a total of $60.9 million dollars in guaranteed money in their payroll in that year.
Now that we talked about the Nationals' side of things, what would be a good starting point for discussions? To get Soto, it has to hurt for the Giants and their fanbase because we are talking about a king's ransom here. I have seen a lot of people only trading pure prospects for Soto but a cheap, controllable good big league is also at play here. Someone like LaMonte Wade or Austin Slater who are still in their prime while still being under team control (up to 2025 for Wade, 2024 for Slater) who occupies the outfield, and trading one to have an open outfield spot for Soto would make sense. Someone like a Thairo Estrada who is an average player who is controllable up to 2026 is also an option. Since the Nationals have Keibert Ruiz in their system, they might not be enticed to have Bart in the fold though Ruiz is more of an offense-first player. Camilo Doval is also an option here as he's going to be under team control up to 2028.
Augmenting that controllable big leaguers would be the pure prospects. Unlike other fanbases where they will treat very highly of their prospects like they are the next "(insert random Hall of Famer here)", I am realistic of my expectations for Giants prospects. For any Juan Soto trade to be in action, two of the trio of Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison, and Luis Matos should be in play. It would pain me the most if Harrison is involved but both Luciano and Matos would actually be fine for me. The next tier that I would be willing to part would with be David Villar if the Nats want a guy who can play now and is as hot as anyone in the system, and Ryan Murphy or Will Bednar if the Nats want to improve their pitching depth (it would break my heart if they choose to depart with Murphy though).
With that said, a good starting point for any Juan Soto trade for the Giants would be Soto and all of Patrick Corbin's contract (and deferred money if it's possible, just take all that financial burden away from the Nats) for LaMonte Wade, Camilo Doval, Marco Luciano, Luis Matos, David Villar, and Will Bednar. This would give the Giants a couple of open spots in the 40-man to take in Soto and Corbin without DFA'ing anyone and the Nationals will get a mix of players who can help right now (Wade, Doval, and Villar) and a couple of years from now (Luciano, Matos, Bednar). Within hours after the trade, the Giants will sign Soto to a 12-year contract of at least $450 million dollars in a pseudo sign-and-trade deal.
What do you guys think of this starting point? I know everyone would say "it's not enough" or "it's never enough" and it's true. However, this is just a starting point and if you play fantasy sports in a full-season setting, you know it all starts somewhere. If the Nats play hard to get and take this one up to the 2024 trade deadline where their haul might be less or even in the 2025 off-season when the Giants can basically hand him a blank check and the Nationals will get nothing out of it, it's their choice. If I am the Mike Rizzo, I would do the right thing and trade Soto to a contender as a sign of respect for what he's done with the organization by being one of their key cogs in their World Series run and in the few years after it, while positioning the organization on a much better starting point with three top 100 prospects in Luciano, Cavalli, and Matos, a potential top 100 in Bednar, while having a potential long-term closer in Doval and solid bats in the lineup in Wade and Villar.