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Juan Soto Trade Rumors: Cardinals Viewed as Front-Runners for Nationals Star

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 24, 2022

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Whether Juan Soto is moved figures to remain the biggest storyline around Major League Baseball until the Aug. 2 trade deadline, and the St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly a team to watch.

Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the National League Central team is "viewed by rivals as a potential front-runner to land" the Washington Nationals star.

"The Cardinals line up for what the Nationals want—not just prospects, but young, controllable players already in the majors," according to the report.

Heyman and Sherman highlighted young major leaguers such as Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill, Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan, as well as prospects such as Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn and Matt Liberatore as potential trade targets in the St. Louis organization if the Nationals do entertain a trade.

It figures to be far from a one-team race, though, as the report pointed to the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants as possible teams that could pursue Soto.

While Washington is under no immediate pressure to trade the 23-year-old considering he is under team control through the 2024 season, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last Saturday that it was open to talks after he rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract offer.

That gives teams around the league the chance to acquire a generational talent who has already won a World Series, batting title and two Silver Sluggers to go with two All-Star selections.

St. Louis is 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central race, and adding someone of Soto's caliber could make the difference down the stretch. It would also provide stability in the long run, since third baseman Nolan Arenado has an opt-out in his contract at year's end.

A lineup with Soto, Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt would be daunting for the rest of the National League, especially if the Cardinals were able to reach the playoffs and unleash it in multiple short series.

It would require parting with some of the young talent throughout the organization, but Soto could be a franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

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