Rumors: Will Soto be dealt by Aug. 2? Execs think yes

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Rumors: Will Soto be dealt by Aug. 2? Execs think yes

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2:20 PM UTC

MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest free-agent and trade rumors right here as we approach the 2022 Trade Deadline on Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. ET.

July 19: Which teams are the favorites to trade for Soto?

Saturday’s news that Juan Soto had rejected the Nationals’ offer of a 15-year, $440 million contract extension (per sources) and could be put on the trade block quickly led to speculation about which teams might get involved in the bidding.

In a Monday appearance on SportsCenter, ESPN’s Buster Olney said he spoke with general managers who told him that barring a sudden contract extension, they believe Soto will be dealt before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. He then named the clubs he thinks are best positioned to land the superstar outfielder, with the Padres at the top of the list, followed by the Rangers, Yankees and Dodgers. As for the Mets and Braves? Olney hears that both clubs doubt the Nats would trade Soto to a division rival.

Naturally, one would assume that any team that gives up the type of prospect haul the Nats will want in any Soto deal would like to get the 23-year-old signed to a new contract, which would seem to eliminate smaller-market clubs.

But according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, that might not necessarily be the case due to the number of years of team control Soto still has before he can reach free agency after the 2024 season.

“We expect, of course, the Dodgers, the Yankees, the Mets, the Padres, all of the usual suspects, to engage in a pursuit of Soto,” Rosenthal said Monday on The Athletic Baseball Show podcast. “The Cubs would be another team. I’m sure I’m missing some. But I would say that even teams that are lower in revenue — Tampa Bay, for instance — could play on this player.

“Tampa Bay, which has a terrific farm system, could conceivably get Soto, pay him the rest of his $17.1 million salary this year and then pay him next year as well. His [2023] salary I would expect would be in the $22 million to $25 million range. And if you don’t want to pay him in the last year, which I would expect they probably would not, OK, you can trade him again. So I would think there are other teams besides the usual suspects who will check in on this.”

July 18: ‘Optimism’ Musgrove deal gets done soon (report)

Joe Musgrove is eligible to become a free agent this offseason and would be one of the top starters on the market, but the chances of him actually getting to free agency seem to be shrinking. 

According to a report from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres have resumed contract talks with Musgrove’s representatives, and there’s optimism that a deal could get done as soon as this week. 

There does appear to be a soft deadline, however, as Acee notes that Musgrove doesn’t want contract talks to continue during the final two months of the season.

Musgrove, 29, made his first All-Star team this year and finished the first half with a 2.42 ERA and a 4.43 K/BB ratio over 104 innings.

If Musgrove does strike a new contract with San Diego, it would be good news for other impending free-agent starters such as Nathan Eovaldi, Sean Manaea, Jameson Taillon and Noah Syndergaard, as well as potential free agents Jacob deGrom (opt-out), Carlos Rodón (opt-out) and Justin Verlander (player option).

July 18: Potential fits for Contreras

On paper, Willson Contreras seems like a perfect fit for the Mets, who have the worst OPS (.504) at the catcher spot in MLB and have struggled to find production at DH as well.

However, Ken Rosenthal doesn’t see New York as a likely suitor for Contreras due to the presence of Francisco Álvarez, the No. 2 prospect in baseball. Álvarez could be a candidate for a callup soon to fill the team’s need for more offense at catcher and DH, Rosenthal noted Monday on FS1.

So if the Mets aren’t in the mix for the 30-year-old impending free agent, who is? Here are four potential fits, per Rosenthal. More >

July 17: Report: Yankees, Mets expected to pursue Soto

The sweepstakes for Juan Soto has begun and potential suitors are starting to take shape.

MLB Network Insider and New York Post columnist Jon Heyman reported Sunday that the Yankees and Mets are both expected to explore a trade for the Nationals star outfielder.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday (subscription required) that the Nationals plan to entertain trade offers for Soto. The 23-year-old star recently turned down a contract extension that would have made him the highest-paid player in baseball history. Sources told Rosenthal that Soto rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer that did not include any deferred money.

Heyman said any deal for Soto “won’t be easy for anyone to complete” before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. Players like Soto, a young superstar with two years of control after this season, rarely become available on the trade market and the Nationals are expected to seek a huge return.

Soto was the runner-up for National League MVP last season and has led all players in on-base percentage in each of the past two seasons. His 165 wRC+ since the start of 2020 is tied for the best among all qualified hitters.

July 16: Report: Nationals will entertain trading Juan Soto

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required) that the Nationals plan to entertain trade offers for star outfielder Juan Soto after the 23-year-old star recently turned down a contract extension that would have made him the highest-paid player in MLB history.

Sources told Rosenthal that Soto rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer that did not include any deferred money. The extension, which would take Soto through his age-38 season, would be the richest contract in league history, topping Mike Trout’s $426 million contract with the Angels from 2019. However, it would be the 20th-largest contract in baseball history in terms of annual average value.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on June 1 that the Nationals “are not trading Juan Soto.” But sources told Rosenthal that this most recent rejection “altered the equation” and led club officials to believe that they will never be able to re-sign Soto. He is earning $17.1 million this season in his second year of arbitration. He is scheduled to become a free agent following the 2024 season.

This is reportedly the third contract offer rejected by Soto in recent months. ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reported this past offseason Washington had offered Soto a 13-year deal worth $350 million. Z101’s Hector Gomez reported in June that the two sides were in talks regarding a 13-year, $425 million extension.

July 14: Yankees unlikely to acquire unvaccinated Benintendi

With the Royals out of the playoff race and Andrew Benintendi set to become a free agent this winter, it’s been widely assumed the first-time All-Star will be traded ahead of the Aug. 2 Deadline. However, following Wednesday’s news that the 28-year-old outfielder won’t be with the Royals this weekend in Toronto because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19 — which is required before entering Canada — American League teams might think twice about acquiring him, given that they could face the Blue Jays in the playoffs.

MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman reported Thursday that the Yankees are one such team that is unlikely to pursue Benintendi. New York boasted a fully vaccinated roster when it traveled to Toronto in early May and mid-June, and it still has at least one more trip to Canada remaining — a three-game series against the Blue Jays on Sept. 26-28.

While other AL teams could share the Yankees’ opinion, National League squads might be more inclined to take a look at Benintendi given that they would not have to worry about a trip to Toronto before the World Series.

Entering Thursday, Benintendi ranked among American League leaders in hits (second, 102), batting average (third, .317) and on-base percentage (sixth, .386). Over his last 28 games, he’s slashing .360/.435/.430.

“It was a personal decision, and I’m going to leave it at that,” said Benintendi when asked about his vaccination status Wednesday.

July 13: Mets president addresses team’s Deadline needs

The Mets entered Wednesday’s game in Atlanta at 20 games over .500 and 1 1/2 games in front of the Braves in the NL East. What does New York need to do at the Trade Deadline to ensure it remains on top of its division? Team president Sandy Alderson mentioned a few spots of interest while talking with MLB Network insiders Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman on their New York Post podcast, “The Show,” on Tuesday. More >

July 11: Is Gallo headed back to Texas?

On July 29, 2021, the Yankees traded four Minor League players to Texas for Joey Gallo in a blockbuster deal.

Less than a year later, Gallo could be on the move again.

In his latest column with The Athletic (subscription required), Ken Rosenthal writes that the Yankees likely “will part with [Gallo] if they can find a taker.”

In 58 games with the Yankees last year, Gallo batted. 160 with 13 home runs, 22 RBIs and 88 strikeouts before going hitless in four at-bats in New York’s Wild Card Game loss to the Red Sox. This year, Gallo’s batting .166 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs in 70 games.

While Rosenthal writes that the Yankees value Gallo’s baserunning and defense in right field (he’s been worth one Out Above Average in right field this year and worth minus four runs in left), he muses that Gallo might not be meant for the New York market.

Rosenthal isn’t the only reporter talking about the idea of the Yankees moving Gallo. In a new video with the  New York Post, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said that Gallo is being “talked about in trades,” while mentioning that some teams believe Gallo will be better once he’s out of New York. 

In a surprise turn, Heyman said the Rangers have shown interest in a reunion with Gallo, along with the Padres. 

Heyman also mentioned the Yankees are interested in acquiring Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Rosenthal also mentioned the Yankees were interested in Benintendi, due in large part to his track record of winning in a large market.

July 11: Pirates holding on to marquee trade targets?

The Pirates could make a number of moves prior to the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel has put together a list of candidates who could be dealt (subscription required). It includes players on expiring contracts, such as starting pitcher José Quintana and outfielder Ben Gamel, and others who are under team control for a longer period.

Two names not on his list, however, are 2021 All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds and 2022 All-Star closer David Bednar. Biertempfel reports, via sources, that the Pirates have already turned down “tempting offers” for both high-profile players, and “it appears unlikely” that either one will be dealt before the Deadline.

Reynolds, 27, was often the subject of trade rumors last year, and the Yankees and Padres continue to scout him, according to Biertempfel. The switch-hitting center fielder received down-ballot MVP votes last season after hitting .302 with a 145 OPS+. He set career bests in numerous categories, including home runs (24), RBIs (90) and runs scored (93). Reynolds, who is under team control through 2025, has posted a .953 OPS over his previous 21 games. However, he was placed on the injured list Monday due to a right oblique strain.

Bednar, 27, was acquired from the Padres prior to the 2021 season in the swap that sent Joe Musgrove out west. After recording a 2.23 ERA across 60 1/3 innings as a rookie last year, Bednar has become one of the better closers in the National League. He has locked down 15 of 18 save opportunities, thanks in part to a 33.7% strikeout rate and a 26.7% strikeout-minus-walk rate. Both marks rank inside the top 15 among all qualified relievers in MLB. The right-hander isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2026 season.

July 8: Could these starters be on the move?

Luis Castillo might not be the only quality starting pitcher on the move this month, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) outlined 10 teams that could consider moving a starter.

The top starter on Rosenthal’s list was Angels right-hander Noah Syndergaard — and for good reason. Syndergaard, who is signed to a one-year, $21 million deal, has a 3.84 ERA through 70 1/3 innings as a part of Anaheim’s six man rotation.

The biggest hang-up about Syndergaard is whether or not he’ll be available. While the Angels are 17 games back of the Astros in the AL West and seven games out of the Wild Card, Rosenthal mentions that owner Arte Moreno might not want to punt on a season of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout’s respective primes.

While Syndergaard’s fastball velocity is down 3 miles per hour compared to 2019, he’s still quality starter with playoff experience on an expiring contract — something that’s incredibly valuable at the Trade Deadline.

Syndergaard isn’t the only veteran starter on the West Coast who could be on the move either. In the same column, Rosenthal mentioned Carlos Rodón as a starter who could be in play. Rodón, who can opt out of his two-year, $44 million deal if he pitches 19 more innings this year, could net a plethora of young prospects for the Giants, who currently boast one of the oldest rosters in baseball.

Rosenthal also said that the Padres (Blake Snell or Mike Clevinger) and Guardians (Zach Plesac) could end up dealing from their starting pitching depth.

Additionally, he said the Rays will be deliberate about their trade dealings (while also mentioning the potential fit of Willson Contreras), the Marlins are facing a dilemma in what to do with Pablo López as they inch closer to .500, the White Sox are looking to bolster their bullpen, and the Rockies, Rangers and D-backs are hesitant to deal their starting pitchers.

July 7: Will Dodgers make a push for Castillo?

There’s an easy argument that the Dodgers have the Majors’ best starting rotation. They lead MLB in ERA (2.64), opponents’ batting average (.213) and hard-hit percentage allowed (33.4%). That group also ranks within the top six in the Majors in myriad other categories, including WHIP, FIP, strikeout-minus-walk rate and FanGraphs WAR.

But might they be best served at the Trade Deadline by upgrading this strength? MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand provided a potential trade fit for all 30 clubs on Thursday, and his selected fit for the Dodgers was Reds right-hander Luis Castillo.

Castillo got off to a late start this season because of an injury, but he has posted a 3.09 ERA through 64 innings (11 starts). Over his past two starts, spanning 13 frames, Castillo has allowed only one run and struck out 17. Opposing hitters are also hitting less than .190 against his two most frequent pitches — a high-90s fastball and a changeup.

And despite the Dodgers’ stats, they do have a void in their starting rotation with Walker Buehler expected to be out until at least September with a right forearm strain.

July 7: Cubs’ Happ receiving ‘a lot of inquiries’

Ian Happ is having a strong season on Chicago’s North Side. The 27-year-old switch-hitter currently possesses career-best marks in batting average (.279), on-base percentage (.377), wRC+ (131) and strikeout rate (20.7%). He owns a fantastic .371/.443/.548 slash line against left-handers, and although he has played chiefly in left field this year, he has shown the ability to hold down any of the three outfield spots in the past. All of this has made Happ, who’s under team control through 2023, a popular player in trade talks.

According to Peter Gammons, the Cubs have “gotten a lot of inquiries” about Happ from interested clubs. You can hear what Gammons had to say about Happ in the video below, beginning at the 1:33 mark.

Gammons said earlier in that video that “there is a good chance” the Guardians will be buyers at the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. Happ would certainly bolster a couple of Cleveland’s weak spots; it ranks 26th in MLB with a .650 outfield OPS and dead last in OPS versus left-handing pitching (.609).

Also on Thursday, MLB.com Mark Feinsand listed Happ as a potential fit for the Padres. San Diego has a .656 outfield OPS, putting it one spot ahead of Cleveland in the Major League ranks. However, perhaps the Padres will solve that problem in-house by placing superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. in the outfield once he’s ready to return from injury.

July 6: Is there now a clear No. 1 starter on the trade market?

Luis Castillo was already expected to be one of this year’s most popular trade candidates, and his price tag could be set to rise even higher following the shoulder injuries suffered by the A’s Frankie Montas and Reds teammate Tyler Mahle.

Mahle was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain on Wednesday, while Montas’ MRI results revealed inflammation after he exited Sunday’s start early. Montas doesn’t have any structural damage in his right shoulder, but with less than a month to go before the Trade Deadline, the injury is sure to hurt his trade stock.

With Montas and Mahle out, Castillo (controllable through 2023) is now the clear-cut No. 1 starting pitcher on the market, and there’s not a close second unless the Marlins decide to make Pablo López (controllable through 2024) available.

Castillo actually missed April while recovering from right shoulder soreness, but he’s recorded a 3.09 ERA with a 9.3 K/9 over 11 starts since returning and has exceeded 99 mph with his four-seamer and sinker on multiple occasions this season.

July 6: Interest in Benintendi ‘off the charts’

Impending free agent Andrew Benintendi is all but certain to be dealt by the Royals before the Trade Deadline. As for where he might land? The possibilities are numerous.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, there is widespread interest in the 28-year-old left fielder.

Everyone wants him,” Passan said on Wednesday’s edition of the Baseball Tonight podcast. “The low payroll teams want him. The high payroll teams want him. The big markets want him. The small market want him. When Andrew Benintendi goes, I think Kansas City better get an absolute haul for him, because the interest is, frankly, just off the charts from everyone there.”

Benintendi, 28, has just three homers this season, but he’s hitting .313 with a .381 on-base percentage over 78 games this season. He’s also a solid defender who won a Gold Glove Award last season.

In June, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi named the Yankees, Blue Jays and Brewers as three potential Benintendi suitors, but he also could be a fit with the Phillies, White Sox, Twins, Guardians, Padres, Mariners and Rangers.

July 6: Will Tatis solve Padres’ OF problems, or is a big trade in Friars’ future?

The Padres entered play on Wednesday with the sixth-lowest outfield OPS (.656) in the Majors, leading to speculation that the club will look to the trade market to improve its poor production. However, the Friars might have an internal solution that’s better than anyone they could bring in.

The Padres are considering having Fernando Tatis Jr. move to the outfield when he returns from a fractured left wrist, which has kept him out all season to this point. The move is not a certainty yet, but MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi noted on MLB Network on Tuesday that it seems to be “trending in that direction.”

Ha-Seong Kim has been solid filling in for Tatis at shortstop, combining a league-average bat (98 OPS+) with strong defense. He ranks fourth among Padres position players in wins above replacement (2.1), per Baseball-Reference, behind Manny Machado (3.9), Jake Cronenworth (2.7) and Jurickson Profar (2.7). A move to the outfield for Tatis would allow Kim to stay in the everyday lineup instead of shifting to a utility role.

Tatis has some outfield experience, having played right and center field after returning from a shoulder injury last season.

San Diego’s outfield also could get a boost from the return of Wil Myers, who has been sidelined by right knee inflammation since early June. Myers has a 70 OPS+ this year, but he owns a lifetime 110 OPS+ over 10 seasons in MLB.

Granted, Tatis and Myers bat from the right side, so it’s possible San Diego will be on the lookout for more left-handed pop even after both players come off the injured list. Padres left-handed hitters have posted a .669 OPS over 1,514 plate appearances in 2022.

If the Padres do pursue an outfielder, ESPN’s Jeff Passan sees Pirates switch-hitting center fielder Bryan Reynolds as a perfect fit, though it remains unclear if the 27-year-old will be dealt given he’s controllable through 2025.

Of course, nothing can be ruled out when it comes to Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who has earned a reputation as one of the most aggressive executives in the game.

“Preller loves to go for moon shots, and Bryan Reynolds at this point feels like a moon shot,” Passan said on the Baseball Tonight podcast on Wednesday. “But if he’s willing to give up C.J. Abrams, at that point the Pirates have to at least listen. And he’s been willing to give up top prospects in the past.”

July 5: Cardinals could be a fit for Castillo

In terms of wins above replacement (according to Baseball-Reference), the top three players in MLB all play for the Cardinals — Paul Goldschmidt (4.4 bWAR), Tommy Edman (4.2) and Nolan Arenado (4.1). The Cards have also received strong contributions at the plate from rookies Juan Yepez (139 OPS+), Brendan Donovan (137 OPS+) and Nolan Gorman (123 OPS+).

Yet, entering play on Tuesday, St. Louis was three games behind the Brewers in the National League Central. The Cardinals’ biggest area of need — and the biggest area of need for any big league contender, at least in the view of ESPN’s Buster Olney — is starting pitching. 

Jack Flaherty has made only three starts this season due to recurring shoulder issues, and the Cards have had to rely heavily on Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson, who were limited to a combined 10 starts in 2021 due to their own injuries, behind 40-year-old ace Adam Wainwright. 

The Cardinals were active on the starting pitching trade market last summer, making deals for veterans Jon Lester and J.A. Happ, but Olney thinks they need to set their sights higher this year.

“In my opinion, and I think in the opinion of a lot of rival evaluators, they have a clear need for a front-of-the-rotation starter,” Olney said on the Baseball Tonight podcast Tuesday.

Per Olney, industry chatter has frequently connected the Cards to the A’s Frankie Montas (controllable through 2023). But after the 29-year-old exited his most recent start with a shoulder injury, St. Louis could look elsewhere, perhaps to the Reds’ Luis Castillo, another 29-year-old who is controllable through 2023.

“I think Luis Castillo would be the perfect fit for the Cardinals,” said ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian, who joined Olney on the podcast. “… I think they’re going to go get somebody, and Castillo to me is at the top of the list right now.”

July 3: What does Montas’s injury mean for trade market?

One of the top arms on the trade market, A’s ace Frankie Montas, left Sunday’s game early with tightness in the back of his left shoulder. After the game, manager Mark Kotsay said Montas was day-to-day, but the impact on his trade value going forward remains to be seen. Montas, 29, owns a 3.26 ERA and 100 strikeouts over 96 2/3 innings this season.

If Montas is out for an extended period of time, the trade value of other rumored starting pitchers like Tyler Mahle, Luis Castillo of the Reds and Pablo López of the Marlins could become even hotter commodities on the market over the next few weeks.

July 1: Why Reds could be most important Trade Deadline seller

The Cubs and Nationals took the lead among Trade Deadline sellers a year ago, as Chicago dealt Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez and Craig Kimbrel, while Washington traded Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison and Yan Gomes.

None of this year’s sellers has quite that much talent to trade, but there is one team in particular that could drive the 2022 summer trade market: the Reds.

The Athletic’s Jayson Stark surveyed five MLB executives for his story (subscription required) on Friday, and Cincinnati was mentioned a lot as the most important seller this year, mainly because the club has Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle. Both pitchers are controllable through 2023.

“I think the Reds are the most important seller just because they have those two starters,” one exec told Stark. “So that’s two pieces that every team needs. And as always, there are not enough of them.”

Since he returned from a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured list to start this season, Castillo has posted a 3.32 ERA with a 60-to-21 K/BB ratio in 57 innings.

Castillo has always thrown hard, but his four-seam fastball has never been as good as it is this year, with opponents hitting just .128 with a 45.2% whiff rate against it. Those aren’t just the best marks of Castillo’s career, they’re also among the best in the Majors this season.

Mahle won’t get as much attention on the trade market as Castillo, but he struck out more than 200 batters last year and has posted a 2.45 ERA over his past six starts after putting up a 6.32 ERA in his first 10 starts this season.

One executive suggested the Reds could look to package Castillo or Mahle with Mike Moustakas to get the rest of his contract off the books. Moustakas’ four-year, $64 million deal runs through 2023.

July 1: Will Marlins trade López?

In a story for The Athletic (subscription required) on Friday, Jayson Stark surveyed five MLB executives about various topics, including their predictions for the most surprising name that will be moved before this year’s Trade Deadline. 

The most popular pick? Marlins right-hander Pablo López, who owns a 135 ERA+ and a 3.85 K/BB ratio in 46 starts since the beginning of 2020.

López is just 26 years old and under team control through 2024, so Miami won’t be in a rush to trade him, but one executive predicted the Marlins could move him for a young position player who can help the club now. The Marlins have been far more successful in developing players on the pitching side than they have with position players. 

Although Edward Cabrera (right elbow tendinitis), Sixto Sánchez (right shoulder surgery) and Jesús Luzardo (left forearm strain) are all dealing with long-term injuries and Trevor Rogers has taken a step back this year after a strong 2021 rookie season, López may nonetheless be expendable. Sandy Alcantara is signed through 2026 and the club still has Max Meyer (MLB’s No. 26 prospect) and Eury Pérez (MLB’s No. 31 prospect) in the pipeline.

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