Why Soto is long shot for Giants compared to NL West rivals


Four teams reportedly have an edge on the rest of baseball in the trade pursuit for 23-year-old Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto.

The Giants are not one of those four teams.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Tuesday, citing sources, that the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals join San Francisco’s NL West rivals San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers as the leaders in the Soto sweepstakes.

Rival executives are split on whether the Nationals will move Soto before the Aug. 2 trade deadline or hold onto the outfielder into to offseason, but Washington is listening to offers and focused on acquiring “the highest-ceiling prospects and controllable major leaguers” in any deal, per Passan.

The team that trades for Soto will have to do two things: One, depart with a heavy load of young talent and, two, eventually offer Soto an expensive long-term deal. The outfielder has made it clear he's not settling for just for any long-term cash grab by rejecting a 15-year, $440 million extension with the Nationals.

San Francisco's division rivals are more equipped to do both.

San Diego has a roster full of young talent already making an impact in MLB, like left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore and infielder C.J. Abrams. The Padres’ farm system is only getting better with outfielder Robert Hassell III as a consensus top-25 prospect and 2021 draft picks James Wood and Jackson Merrill rising quickly up the ranks.

The Dodgers, despite having superstars Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman in their lineup, have young talent like 23-year-old Gavin Lux to offer the Nationals along with prospects in catcher Diego Cartaya, right-hander Bobby Miller and infielder Michael Busch.

Los Angeles also has a history of paying up to acquire star talent. Betts and Turner arrived to Dodger Stadium via blockbuster trades, the latter with the Nationals in which they brought in the star shortstop along with three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer last season. The Dodgers' willingness to spend money in order to win can't be questioned, with Freeman's $140 million deal in the offseason as their most recent example.

In the four years since he was hired as the Giants' president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi doesn't have a resume as a big spender.

Although San Francisco does have a promising future with prospects like shortstop Marco Luciano and left-handed pitcher Kyle Harrison, and could even offer 25-year-old Logan Webb in a Soto trade, the Giants giving up their entire future for Soto might not bode well as owners of the second-oldest lineup in the big leagues in terms of average age (30.4 years).

RELATED: Identifying Giants' biggest need as trade deadline nears

In Passan's report, he goes on to write that San Diego and St. Louis might be the biggest two threats for a Soto trade, even with the spending ability of the Dodgers and Yankees.

Outfielder Dylan Carlson and infielder Nolan Gorman represent the Cardinals' best young pieces in The Show at 23 and 22 years old, respectively. Matthew Liberatore has struggled in his first taste of the big leagues this season but is still an intriguing left-handed arm at 22 years old. St. Louis also boasts a top-10 prospect in Jordan Walker and the promising shortstop Masyn Winn, who has logged a .847 OPS across two levels and currently is playing in Double-A. 

The Nationals could trade Soto by Aug. 2, or they could wait for teams to face postseason disappointment and make an offer they can't refuse this winter.

Either way, Soto appears destined for Los Angeles, San Diego, New York or St. Louis -- and not San Francisco.

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