MLBTR’s Steve Adams took a look at the situation recently, explaining how Soto is arguably the most attractive slice of trade in recent memory or perhaps ever. Given his talent, his youth, and his remaining years of dominance, nearly every team will be calling the Nats and learning what kind of deal they’re looking to strike.
Bob Nightingale from USA TODAY Reports indicate that discussions have begun, and unsurprisingly Soto is attracting widespread interest. It lists the Mariners, Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees and Mets as seven teams that have already opened lines of communication with Washington.
None of these were particularly surprising, as all seven of these were listed by Adams as among the best fits. There is a potential complicating factor in the conversations, with Jim Bowden of The Athletic stating that citizens want to combine Soto and Patrick Corbin In trades, in order to remove Corbyn’s contract from their books. As an added detail, Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty looks at the pros and cons of including Corbyn in the deal, adding that Corbyn has a partial no-trade clause. However, Dougherty adds that this will not prevent an agreement from coming together, which means Corbyn’s clause is minimal enough not to include key suitors, or he may be willing to waive the clause and move to a new club with Soto.
While the citizens are certainly open to moving Corbin out of his contract, it’s unclear how important that is to them. A six-year contract worth $140 million was signed before 2019, and the first season was a resounding success. Corbin threw 202 runs with a 3.25 ERA, then added another 23 1/3 frame in the post-season as the Nats won their first World Championship in franchise history. Basically everything has been downhill since then, with Corbyn’s hits disappearing and ERA mounting. After strike rates of 30.8% in 2018 and 28.5% in 2019, it has been hovering around 20% in the subsequent three seasons. His ERA jumped to 4.66 in 2020, then 5.82 last year and 5.87 this year.
As for Corbyn’s contract, it was hugely loaded. His salary this year is $23.42 million, leaving approximately $8 million to be paid from deadline onwards. Then it will bring in $24.42 million next year and a big jump to $35.42 in 2024. This is the last year of the deal, although there is $10 million in deferred funds to be paid from November 2024 to January 2026.
The combination of Corbyn’s poor performance and hefty salary gives him negative commercial value. As such, any Corbin-Soto combo trade will result in citizens being redeemed for a lower probability package than a trade that includes Soto alone. On the surface, it seems odd that NATS would have a strong drive toward such a scenario. Soto’s trading means giving up the competition until 2024 anyway, so getting Corbin’s contract off the books for this season shouldn’t be a high priority. With Soto out of the picture, the only other meaningful salary they will pay in 2024 and beyond will go for him Stephen Strasbourg, which gets $35 million a year through 2026. Spending $70 million on Strasburg and Corbin in 2024 certainly isn’t ideal, but the rest of the roster will likely be filled with players before the ARB or those who just qualified and got the bottom line raises. The club ran a payroll of $183 million as recently as last year, according to Cot baseball contracts, and has already stripped it to $135 million this year.
But if Nats is really excited about getting that money off the ledger ahead of schedule, that will change the calculus of the teams that make the most sense as business partners. The teams on the receiving end will receive two significant salaries, with Soto being well paid. He’s earned $17.1 million this year and will be due judging in the next two campaigns, and will likely approach the $25 million range next year and over $30 million for 2024, as long as he stays healthy. Even for the rest of this campaign, Soto will have about $6 million left to be paid by deadline time. In addition to the roughly $8 million owed to Corbin, that would add $14 million to this year’s payroll for any team that gets both.
As Steve Adams explained in the segment linked above, all seven teams that Nightengale listed have junior players who could headline a comeback in the Soto deal. However, the prospect of taking Corbin in return may be more exciting for some than others. The Padres family crossed the luxury tax streak last year and faced it this year, apparently loathing to cross it for the second season in a row, and thus facing escalating penalties. It is rumored that they are trying to replace one of their shooters in order to create payroll space for extras elsewhere. Suddenly getting another expensive start, and someone who doesn’t put up a good show, will fly against those plans. Although perhaps Soto’s availability is a unique situation that makes them rethink everything.
The Cardinals had opening day salaries of $155 million per bed, which is a bit shy of their record of $164 million. Adding $14 million to reach record territory will probably be an acceptable outcome this year, but it will become complicated in the coming years. Adam Wainwright$17.5 million is the largest contract to be on the books at the end of the year, but there will likely be a common interest in another deal, based on precedent. He’s having another stellar season and is likely to get a similar contract. Molina runs$10 million will come off the books, although Soto and Corbin will add about $50 million to it, and it will still be on the cards to discover a solution behind the board.
The Mets already have a huge payroll but don’t seem to have any limitations in this regard. Owner Steve Cohen has expressed his willingness to spend outside the fourth CBT barrier, above which the club is already located. Jason Martinez of Roster Resource calculates his CBT number at $290.1 million, which is a smidge above the $290 million barrier. Regardless of the financial picture, there is the question of whether the Nats have any interest in trading Soto within the division. SNY’s Andy Martino reports that Soto’s landing with the Mets is highly unlikely, as the Nats weren’t eager to see Soto return to Washington frequently in a new outfit.
The Giants and Sailors might be in a better position than these other teams to earn a big salary in order to get the Sotos. The Giants had a payroll of $155 million on opening day, per bed, but it rose at $201 million a few years ago. They also have some decent money coming out of the books this winter. Carlos Rodon He earns $21.5 million and can withdraw if he reaches 110 runs. Since he’s currently 105 years old and having another great season, it’s a default lock-down for this withdrawal. Brandon belt I accepted the eligible offer of $18.4 million and it will be back on the open market in a few months. Brandon Crawford He earns $16 million this year and next, but gets a free agent after that. The only secured contract they have on their books for 2024 is $12 million owed to them Anthony Disclavani. The Mariners opened the year at $104 million per bed, but it’s been in the $150-160 range in recent years.
As for the Yankees and Dodgers, they run franchise-high payrolls, but they may still like the idea of Corbyn participating in the contract. Recent reports have indicated that both clubs are apprehensive about destroying their farm systems in order to acquire Soto, despite his talents. Confronting Corbyn and minimizing the potential blow should appeal to both clubs.
Of course, all this still seems exploratory on the part of the citizens. Ditching Corbin’s money certainly has an appeal, but they’ll also have to weigh that against the offers they receive that don’t include Corbin. If a team offers, say, six good odds but doesn’t want Corbin, would the Nats take a lower package just to get Corbin out the door? There is at least some precedent, given the inclusion of Red Sox David Price In the Mocky Pets Deal. However, the situations aren’t quite the same, with the Red Sox having bypassed the luxury tax in the previous two seasons and were primarily interested in tearing up their roster for cost savings. For the Nats, they are already operating on a much lower budget than previous seasons and should in theory be more interested in maximizing their potential return on any Soto deal.