Washington Nationals star outfielder Juan Soto powered his way to a win at the Home Run Derby on Monday night, cashing tickets at +700 odds.
It was impressive enough to overcome Seattle rookie Julio Rodriguez in the final round, but Soto also overcame swirling trade rumors and questions at the event. He has been in the headlines since news broke Saturday that he declined a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from the Nationals.
The Nationals are expected to ask for a huge haul in return for the 23-year-old slugger who has a career .293 batting average and has hit 118 home runs. Soto will not qualify for free agency until after the 2024 season, so his next team will have him for three playoff runs at minimum.
Washington would need to agree to a trade ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline, though. Offshore sportsbook BetOnline released odds for potential trade suitors over the next two weeks.
There are a limited number of teams in the MLB that can afford to entice Washington with a trade package and also afford to pay Soto what he will demand. The New York teams are best suited for both scenarios, which is why the Mets are the +400 ‘chalk’ to land Soto, and the Yankees are not far behind at +500.
Mets owner Steve Cohen has been aggressive since purchasing the team, acquiring All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland before signing Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha this past offseason. Cohen would likely be willing to trade most of his key prospects and open the checkbook for Soto, but would Washington GM Mike Rizzo want to make the deal within the division?
If Rizzo is unwilling to hear about how great Soto is for the next decade-plus, a trade to the Yankees could also be in the cards. The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009, so they are willing to do whatever it takes. They are already having to deal with stalled contract talks with star outfielder Aaron Judge, who is set to become a free agent after this season.
Another team listed near the top of the Soto market is San Francisco, which is priced at +550. The Giants have several quality prospects that they could trade, but the biggest contract they have ever issued was the eight-year, $159 million deal that they gave to catcher Buster Posey in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers (+600) are always going to be in the mix for top players. They have more top-100 prospects than any other team in the majors, and they also have plenty of money.
Some other teams that could try to get in on the Soto sweepstakes include the Blue Jays (+600), Cardinals (+700), Mariners (+750) and Red Sox (+900).
Soto played a pivotal role in Washington’s World Series title in 2019, hitting .333 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the World Series. Things went south after that, as All-Star infielder Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels, Bryce Harper left for Philadelphia and most of the Nationals other key players were traded in 2021, including Scherzer and Trea Turner.