After Juan Soto rejected the Washington Nationals’ 15-year, $440 million contract, trade rumors began to swirl. And the Boston Red Sox have been mentioned by a prominent reporter.
Jon Heyman of The New York Post recently listed eight potential teams that he thinks are most likely to land the 23-year-old Soto, and put the Red Sox at sixth. Before getting into why the Red Sox could potentially make sense for the Nationals and Soto, let’s look at why he is one of the most touted players available for trade in recent memory.
The right fielder played in 116 games for Washington as a 19-year-old, hitting 22 home runs and 70 RBIs with a .292 batting average. He helped the Nationals win the World Series as a 20-year-old, then hit .351 in a shortened season as a 21-year-old. Last season, he hit .313, adding 29 home runs and 95 RBIs. Soto was also walked 145 times last season; nobody has gotten walked that many times in a season since Barry Bonds in the early 2000s.
Even though Soto is only hitting .250 this season, he’s still on pace to hit over 30 home runs and walk over 120 times. It’s safe to say, at just 23 years old, he’s one of the best that baseball has to offer.
Thinking that the Red Sox will trade for someone that will demand so much money is contradictory of everything they’ve done the past few years. An organization that’s recently traded away two All-Stars, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, and has yet to pay its own in Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. Here’s what Heyman had to say:
“While the Red Sox have seemed reluctant to sign monster free-agent contracts, they have several key free agents and a lot of money potentially coming off the books (J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Nate Eovaldi are among many free agents).”
A trade for a player such a Soto would cost a ton, including both present and future assets. With the recent struggles Boston faced against AL East teams (3-10 against the Rays and Yankees heading into the All-Star break), they don’t feel like a team that should trade a king’s ransom for one great player. Noah Trister of AP Sports posited that a trade including Bogaerts, Tanner Houck, Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, Brayan Bello, and Nick Yorke could get the deal done for Soto.
That’s an All-Star and team leader, a solid reliever with upside, and then the No. 10, 15, 44 and 64 prospects in the Red Sox organization. That trade, and most potential trades bringing Soto to the Red Sox, gives them arguably the best young star duo in the MLB with him and Devers. But they’d be left with almost nothing else in a system they’ve spent the past few years rebuilding.
Unless the Red Sox go into all-out “buy” mode and start spending big money – something Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom hasn’t exactly shown he wants to do – trading for Soto would leave the Red Sox in a similar place the Los Angeles Angels currently sit with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and a 39-53 record with no postseason appearances since 2014.
With the farm system currently in place, the capability is there for Boston to make the trade. Soto is an excellent player, who will likely be a superstar for a while. But unless the Red Sox want to go all in to pay up for better players around Soto and more depth up and down the lineup, trading for a player of Soto’s caliber doesn’t make much sense for the price tag.