If the Washington Nationals had to do the unthinkable and trade Juan Soto, what would it take to move him? Southside Showdown offered three trade proposals.
Ever since it was reported last week that Juan Soto turned down a 13-year extension worth $350 million with the Nationals, fans and analysts have been speculating that the superstar will be moved. Highly unlikely. He still has three years before he reaches free agency and the Washington Nationals front office has already started to gauge a starting point for their star.
Soto was right to turn down the extension because he is worth much more. However, on the very, very, very, very, very unlikely chance the Nationals do decide to trade away the face of their franchise, it would have to be for a king’s ransom. Think what the Nationals traded away for Adam Eaton and times that by ten. Soto is only 23, won’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season, and just finished second in NL MVP voting.
Southside Showdown’s Proposed Offers
Trade Number 1
Trade Number 2
Trade Number 3
Neither of these three trades comes even remotely close to landing Soto. Acquiring the second-best hitter in baseball who is only 23 and has yet to reach prime would cost a team multiple All-Stars and top prospects. Any three of these proposals would lead to Mike Rizzo laughing and hanging up the phone.
The fact is that the Red Sox gave up more to acquire Chris Sale from the White Sox in 2016 than they would be giving up in any of these three trades. Boston traded Yoán Moncada and Michael Kopech, who were the second and 16th ranked prospects for the 2017 season per MLB Pipeline. In addition, Boston also shipped out Luis Basabe and Victor Diaz.
Soto is the second-best hitter on the planet and is five years younger than Sale was when he was traded. Something else to keep in mind is that until the CBA allows teams to trade draft picks, trading for Soto this far out from free-agency will be virtually impossible due to the Nationals asking price.
But if the White Sox are still content on prying Soto away, they would have to be willing to deal with multiple parts of their core. Unfortunately, none of the above trade proposals offer fair compensation.
A Counter Proposal
Any trade for Soto with the White Sox needs to include Luis Robert as a starting point. The 24-year old slugger dealt with injuries last year, but still hit .338, with 13 homers, 43 RBIs, and an OPS of .946 in 68 games. Despite missing over half the season, he posted a 3.2 fWAR, showcasing how deadly he can be when healthy.
He provides solid defense in center, posting 5 outfield assists, 12 DRS, and a 1.6 UZR in his two years with the White Sox. Robert’s contract includes two club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons, meaning he won’t reach free agency until 2028 when he’s 30.
In Washington, he instantly becomes the Nats starter in center, offering an upgrade over Lane Thomas and Victor Robles. In addition to Robert, the White Sox would have to offer multiple building blocks, with Moncada, Kopech, and Garrett Crochet coming to mind.
Trading both Robert and Moncada would be quite a hit to the White Sox offense, but it’s definitely worth it for a generational talent in Soto. He can play both second and third, but fully transitioned to the hot corner in 2019. Last season at third, he posted three DRS and a 6.0 UZR and would be an instant upgrade to the Nationals.
Over his six years in the Majors, he’s slashing .261/.346/.439, with 70 homers, 248 RBIs, and an OPS of .784. He hit a career-high 25 homers in 2019 and would slot into the middle of the Nats lineup.
Kopech and Crochet are two of the White Sox’s best young relievers, combing for 168 strikeouts last season. Losing them would be a major hit to the White Sox bullpen, but they still have the trio of Liam Hendriks, Kendall Graveman, and Craig Kimbrel at the backend.
Originally a starter, Kopech underwent Tommy John in 2018, causing him to miss the rest of the season and all of 2019. Kopech then opted out of 2020, leading to Chicago using him out of the bullpen last season instead of the rotation to ease him back. In 69 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.50 ERA, with 103 strikeouts, and a 2.97 FIP.
Kopech has Cy Young potential thanks to his heater that sits at 97mph with impressive movement. It is expected he moves back to the rotation next season, where he will need to be stretched out.
Drafted by the White Sox in 2020, Crochet flew through the minors, debuting in the same season, throwing six shutout innings, with eight strikeouts across five outings. Last year, he proved his early success wasn’t a fluke, posting a 2.82 ERA, with 65 strikeouts, and a 2.80 FIP in 54 1/3 innings. The bullpen has always been the Nationals’ Achilles heel and Crochet has already established himself as a rising star.
For the White Sox, this would be a massive haul to give up, but Soto turns the White Sox into instant World Series favorites. An offense of Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, Eloy Jiménez, Gavin Sheets, Yasmani Grandal, José Abreu, and Soto would be one of the best in the AL.
The argument could be made that this wouldn’t be enough for the Nationals, with the White Sox probably having to also include some prospects. But these four give the Nationals a solid foundation to build around.