I’m going to preface this by saying simply: I do not want to make this trade, nope, no matter which players are involved.
Let’s stipulate: Juan Soto is a great hitter. No question about it. One of the top five hitters in baseball. He’s only 25, and just turned that age about a month ago. Any team should want this guy, right?
The problem is that whoever trades for him is guaranteed of only one year’s worth of performance. And there are absolutely no guarantees that Soto would remain with the Cubs beyond 2024, if they did trade for him, which is why I think giving up a haul of players would be a mistake. This is likely the case for just about any team that deals for Soto: Why wouldn’t he want to go to free agency a year from now when he has the opportunity?
As I did for the Dylan Cease trade article posted here yesterday, I had a conversation with Josh about what the Padres might want for Soto. In addition to a large haul, the Padres probably wouldn’t be interested in any of the Cubs’ young position players like Christopher Morel. They’re already pretty well set at many of their defensive positions.
What they’d likely be looking for is pitching. Here’s what Josh told me:
The Padres will ask for Cade Horton and the Cubs should and will say no. Ben Brown is an obvious candidate. They want someone with upside and since Horton is off the table, I’d guess Jackson Ferris, even though he’s not close to the majors. And then they’d want someone in the majors. They’d ask for Jordan Wicks but the Cubs will likely say no. They might settle for Javier Assad.
The Cubs might be able to dump Drew Smyly on the Padres, who need someone to eat innings. That won’t add to the value, it would just be the Cubs dumping salary.
The Cubs do have more good young players than they have roster spots. It’s a good problem to have, but I think Jed Hoyer is under some pressure to make a deal before some of these prospects lose value.
But the Padres also gave up a whole lot more to get Soto and they’re under some pressure to get a decent return for him. They aren’t going to get back for one year of Soto what they gave up for 2½ years of him, but they gave up the equivalent of Matt Shaw, Cade Horton, Kevin Alcántara and Owen Caissie to get him. To get one potential mid-rotation starter and a good reliever who can start in a pinch isn’t enough to sell their fans.
Maybe Brown, Wesneski, Assad and Smyly does it.
That’s an awful lot of pitching depth to give up for Soto, even though Josh says (correctly) that Soto has Hall of Fame talent. Agreed, but... again, a trade only guarantees you one year’s worth of that talent. And that would take away a LOT of the Cubs’ depth.
Would you make that deal? I wouldn’t. There are hitters on the free agent market (Shohei Ohtani, for one) who can give you close to the offense Soto gives. Even Cody Bellinger would give the Cubs the offensive boost they need without giving up players, and would cost less over time than either Ohtani or Soto.
I’m not making this deal. Are you?
EDITOR’S NOTE: This series will resume on Monday.
This poll is closed
... the Cubs should trade for him with a deal like the one Josh proposed
... the Cubs should trade for him, but I have a different proposal (leave in comments)
... the Cubs should wait and try to acquire him as a free agent a year from now
... the Cubs should not trade for him at all