7:41 a.m.: There’s a ‘growing sense’ that the Padres are the likeliest landing spot for not just Soto but also Josh Bell, tweet Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. There is some momentum in these talks, he adds. Likewise, Jesse Dougherty of the Post tweet as the Nationals begin to tighten the field.
San Diego, of course, already has Eric Hosmer installed at first base, but they’ve been trying for over a year to get off the rest of that contract. Speculatively, if the Nats are serious about maximizing Soto’s (and possibly Bell’s) return, they could be the ones to take the remaining three years and $39 million on Hosmer’s contract themselves. Homer’s trio, Patrick Corbin and Stephane Strasbourg there would be plenty of undersea contracts for a team, sure, but the Nats don’t have much else on the payroll in the immediate future.
7:12 a.m.: The Major League Baseball trade deadline is now less than 12 hours away, and the John Soto business opportunity that has captivated the entire sport and its fanbase remains unresolved. Yesterday, Soto’s auction was widely seen as a three-team bidding war, with the Padres, Cardinals and Dodgers all heavily involved. That doesn’t stop another team (or teams) from jumping in to do a late push, of course; it would frankly be a surprise if that didn’t happen, in fact. Teams will miss other goals, priorities will rotate, and positions on “out of bounds” prospects will soften.
So far, a sticking point for the Cardinals has been their reluctance to include a young outfielder. Dylan Carlson and their top prospects, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweet. Carlson, 23, has been known to interest the Nats as an immediate outfield plug-in, and as a former first-round pick and top-10 prospect (per Baseball America), it’s no surprise. – although he’s been more of a regular than a star at this stage of his young career. Carlson, who hits the switch, is batting .260/.334/.426 since last season, and he’s reduced his strikeout rate significantly this season.
Carlson can be controlled for another four years after the current season and is able to handle all three outfield spots. There is perhaps a feeling that given his youth and pedigree, he has another piece of equipment that he is yet to be tapped into. Further obscuring the possibility of the Cardinals, Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests that Washington may not be so high on the left Matthew Liberator like others in the industry; Jim Bowden of The Athletic wrote something similar a few weeks ago.
As for the Padres, the health of one of their best young left-handed arms mackenzie gore, is a potential complication. Gore was stopped with a pulled elbow. He’s expected to avoid surgery, but the specter of an arm injury for a potential key pitcher in the deal has surely altered the Nats’ valuation. The Padres, meanwhile, have now passed the luxury tax threshold after their stunning addition of Josh Hader yesterday. They would have been loath to cross that line for a second season in a row. However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale suggests that if it means acquiring both Hader and Soto, the Padres “wouldn’t mind going completely over” the tax line.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers have grown increasingly optimistic about their chances over the past two days, according to LA Times’ Jack Harris. The Dodgers’ perpetually deep farm system is full of top prospects — they currently have seven of Baseball America’s Top 100 farmhands — and they also have controllable young big leaguers of potential interest. Both Harris and Heyman suggest an infielder Gavin Lux (four more years of team control) and just Dustin May (about to return from Tommy John surgery, with three more years of control) as potential targets for Washington.
Yesterday morning, the Yankees were reportedly a “long shot,” the Rangers weren’t particularly aggressive, and Mariners president Jerry Dipoto said publicly that his team likely wouldn’t land in Soto. Adding to this list of teams that have inquired but seem unlikely to be a serious player, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Guardians have looked into Soto but the talks have never gained traction. Washington was interested in Cleveland’s top pitching prospect Daniel Espinobut health was once again a factor in talks as he has been out since April with a knee injury.