Five days away from the MLB trade deadline, a front-runner has reportedly emerged in the Juan Soto sweepstakes.
Per ESPN's Buster Olney, there is a perception among rival executives that the San Diego Padres are favorites to acquire the 23-year-old superstar from the Washington Nationals.
The ranking of teams interested in Soto seems to change on a daily basis as the clock counts down to the trade deadline Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET.
Earlier this week, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the St. Louis Cardinals were viewed by opposing teams as the potential front-runner for Soto.
The same report from Heyman and Sherman noted "at least a half-dozen teams" have checked in with the Nationals about Soto.
Heyman added that the Padres, Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers are "more involved" in talks than a team like the New York Yankees because those teams might have a better mix of prospects to entice the Nationals.
Amid rumors that the Nationals might try to attach a negative-value contract in the deal with Soto, Rizzo said they are "not going to dilute a return for any player by adding a bad contract."
The Padres have several top prospects who play premium positions they could offer the Nationals. Their top two prospects are center fielder Robert Hassell III and catcher Luis Campusano, per MLB.com.
St. Louis also has multiple middle-of-the-diamond players who could headline a deal for Soto. Left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore, catcher Ivan Herrera and shortstop Masyn Winn are among their top prospects.
Soto figures to bring back a significant return if the Nationals trade him. The two-time All-Star is only 23, has two years of team control remaining beyond this season and is on pace to post an on-base percentage of at least .400 for the fifth consecutive year.