Nearly half of MLB is in the mix to acquire Washington Nationals star Juan Soto, but league executives project the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers as the favorites, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
In a poll of 17 front-office executives who were asked to name three favorites to land Soto, eight listed the Padres while seven named the Dodgers. No other team received more than three votes.
There was plenty of uncertainty, however, with 13 organizations named as possibilities. Here are the rest of the teams that received votes:
- New York Mets (three votes)
- New York Yankees (three)
- St. Louis Cardinals (three)
- Seattle Mariners (three)
- Tampa Bay Rays (three)
- San Francisco Giants (two)
- Boston Red Sox (one)
- Chicago Cubs (one)
- Milwaukee Brewers (one)
- Texas Rangers (one)
- Toronto Blue Jays (one)
"I would probably list 'the field' as the favorite," a National League general manager said.
Soto cannot become a free agent until after the 2024 season, which expands the pool of candidates. Those that aren't contenders this year can still add the talented player to help in each of the next two seasons.
Even small-market teams that wouldn't be able to afford the right fielder's next contract can still get value before he becomes a free agent.
Soto reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension, which caused the Nationals to open up trade talks, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
"My assumption is it will be the best prospect package we've ever seen in a trade—and rightfully so," an NL GM told Feinsand. "It's the best player, in their prime, with the most control that I can recall being moved, ever."
The 23-year-old entered Monday with 20 home runs and an .886 OPS in 94 games. Though his batting average is only .245, he has a .292 career mark with a batting title. He also has two All-Star selections and two Silver Slugger Awards and finished second in NL MVP voting last year.
His addition would represent a major boost for any team, but it would make the Dodgers especially dangerous since they already have the best record in the National League at 64-30. With former Nationals teammate Trea Turner along with established stars such as Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, L.A. would create one of the best lineups in the majors as it seeks its second World Series title in three years.
The Padres are still looking for their first championship and only have one playoff appearance since 2006—which came in the shortened 2020 season. They are in position for a wild-card berth in 2022, but adding Soto would go a long way toward upgrading the lineup. With Fernando Tatis Jr. also nearing his season debut after a wrist injury, it would be like adding two MVP candidates at the trade deadline.
With Tatis and Manny Machado under contract through at least 2028, it would create one of the top cores in the majors as well.