Juan Soto is on the trade block; rejects $440 million contract extension from Washington

YTF

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What's the reason they shouldn't run a $250-300M payroll? The first CBT threshold will be $241M in 2025, and the tax penalties for exceeding it are much less cumbersome if there's an international draft. There's no salary cap, and no points for surplus value or employing economic reasoning for the sake of it.

Wherever he goes is likely up to Soto. No team is going to give up the moon for him unless there's some understanding of extension parameters. There's no reason David Ortiz couldn't facilitate that discussion, if he hasn't already.

Say the Sox trade Yorke, Houck, Duran, Dalbec, Bello and Verdugo to the Nats for Soto and Corbin. Extend Devers at 10/$300M and Soto at 14/$500M. Here's the team in 2024:

C - Hernandez, Wong
1B - Casas
2B - Story
SS - Downs
3B - Devers
LF - Soto
CF - Rafaela/Jimenez
RF - Cordero
DH - Binelas

Bench options: Arroyo, McDonough, Jordan, Bleis, Hamilton, Bonaci

SP: Sale, Paxton, Pivetta, Whitlock, Gonzalez, Winckowski, Crawford, Groome, Seabold
RP: Schreiber, Davis, Ort, Walter, Murphy, German, Mata, Ward, Corbin

That team costs about $200M. I'm estimating arb figures for Pivetta, Cordero, Schreiber and Davis, and there'd be a question whether Soto's extension would cover his final arb years. Sale, Corbin, Pivetta and Cordero's contracts (about $60M) come off the books in 2025, when Mayer hopefully slots in at shortstop.

Soto is a "Top-25 hitter in the history of baseball" kind of player, to the best anyone can tell from here, and he's years away from his prime. If you're the Sox, you see if he wants to be here, and you make it work however possible. But I reject the idea that it would prevent them from fielding a competitive team.
Assumption is doing a whole lot of heavy lifting here.
 

BoSox Rule

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Maybe in the end he doesn’t want to be in Washington but it’s totally unfair to look at the most similar young hitter to Ted Williams rejecting $29m AAV and being like he’s an arrogant asshole. Maybe he texts that 440 at 12 or 13 years, or they want him for 15 years then the total package needs to be $500m.
 

Beomoose

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Sure would be nice if we could rob another team blind like Cashman seems to pull off every few years. I say "seems" because I'm aware it's not really that common and the Stanton trade warps reality to some extent.
I don't know much about the Angels' farm system but man would it be awesome to watch Ohtani, Soto, and Trout in a lineup.
Would easily be the most exciting .500 team in awhile.
 

glennhoffmania

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I posted this about a week ago.

This does not mean that the Nationals are giving up. According to Bob Nightengale from USA Today, the Nationals increased their offer to Soto with an extension that was worth at least $400 million.

Such a contract would be a first. Mookie Betts’ $365 million extension is currently the record for the most money guaranteed in a new deal. Soto would be the first $400 million man, setting the bar for other young stars afterwards.

For his part, Soto has said that he is willing to stay in Washington. However, one has to imagine that not only does the money have to be right, but he has to be confident about the direction of the ballclub. With the Lerner’s reportedly looking to sell the team, that adds another element of uncertainty for Soto to navigate.
https://calltothepen.com/2022/07/04/juan-soto-reportedly-turned-record-contract-washington-nationals/
 

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How good is Soto? There was a lot of big talk about how he was putting up numbers like Ted Williams when he had an OPS+ over 200 in the short 2020 season, but like literally everyone other than Ted Williams, he fell off that pace. He doesn't provide any defensive or baserunning value, so everything you're getting out of him comes from his bat. A good chunk of his offensive value comes from his ability to take a walk. He clearly is a very selective hitter, but I'm sure he has more than his fair share of non-competitive at bats from pitchers who would rather not give anything hittable to the only good player on a terrible team.

If you dropped him on the Red Sox with Devers, JD, and Xander in the lineup, would he still draw all those walks? Or would he hit for more power since he's getting pitched to like any other guy in the lineup?
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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Cool strawman. Thanks for reminding us that the ownership group of a MLB franchise isn't "poor." But as you well know, ownership groups vary quite a bit in terms of how much they value winning, how much money they want to milk out of the team, etc. Red Sox ownership has been pretty consistent in terms of how much and how long they're willing to spend over league payroll criteria. To the extent the discussion here implicitly reflects that reality, you'd be more persuasive by outlining why you think this is particular case is one where ownership should feel eager to throw out their operating manual.
Cool ability to comprehend a message board conversation.

I didn't say that the Red Sox are poor. The original poster said that the Sox wouldn't be able to afford both Soto and Devers. That's untrue. The Boston Red Sox can afford both contracts. And if the opportunity comes they should. Whether they do or not is completely out of my control, I just want the team that I like watching to get the best players that they possibly can. I don't know why another fan would be against that, but to each his/her own.
 
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NJ_Sox_Fan

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I doubt the Sox can offer (or be willing to offer) the best package, but I’ll be extremely disappointed in ownership/Chaim if they don’t at least give this a real shot.

Someone mentioned upthread, but he’s not gonna sign an extension with the trade most likely , so I understand it’s hard to trade multiple top prospects for 2 plus years of control, but with a guy like this you’ve got to give this a go.
 

BigSoxFan

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I doubt the Sox can offer (or be willing to offer) the best package, but I’ll be extremely disappointed in ownership/Chaim if they don’t at least give this a real shot.

Someone mentioned upthread, but he’s not gonna sign an extension with the trade most likely , so I understand it’s hard to trade multiple top prospects for 2 plus years of control, but with a guy like this you’ve got to give this a go.
I think you definitely have to poke around. If the price is Mayer/Bello/Casas or whatever, then you obviously walk away. But, let’s see what the market dictates. If I could get 2+ years of Soto for Casas/Yorke/others without giving up Mayer, then I would be all over that deal.
 

E5 Yaz

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I doubt the Sox can offer (or be willing to offer) the best package, but I’ll be extremely disappointed in ownership/Chaim if they don’t at least give this a real shot.
Here's the thing, though ... we'll never know what their "real shot" looks like. And, if they don't get him -- and he goes instead, to a team such as the Yankees or Rays -- the board will be filled with posts decrying that the Sox management isn't trying to win.
 

dhappy42

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I think you definitely have to poke around. If the price is Mayer/Bello/Casas or whatever, then you obviously walk away. But, let’s see what the market dictates. If I could get 2+ years of Soto for Casas/Yorke/others without giving up Mayer, then I would be all over that deal.
What if you had to take Corbin and salary as well?
 

chawson

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The AL East is so loaded both now and going forward that it has to make it even harder for GMs to know when to push chips in and mortgage some of their future.

So given that, I will take a quick run at handicapping the odds of the AL East teams for a Soto deal by August 2, I am sure we will read much much more about this in the next couple of weeks.

BAL: If it was just about talent and Elias really wanted Soto at any cost, a Gunnar Henderson/Grayson Rodriguez package would be a strong front-runner and maybe almost enough on its own. But BAL is not swimming in young talent, that would put a big dent in their future (yes, Soto is 23 still, but just controlled through 2024). It doesn't seem like the kind of move they would push hard to make at this point in their hopeful upswing, plus like I said above, I don't see WAS sending him to BAL if there is anywhere else they can send him, and of course there will be.

Odds: under 1 percent

BOS: This would start with Mayer, no way around that, and then a lot of it depends on how much WAS likes him compared to the other top prospects offered. BOS also I am not sure has enough excess young talent for this to make enough sense at this point in their cycle, but if Chaim wanted to push hard and he was willing to mortgage the farm, I don't think it's impossible. Also Soto seems to be a Celtics fan, not that he will get much of a vote in this, I guess, but he certainly will after 2024.

Odds: 3 percent

NYY: Obviously the situation I know the best...

Cashman is generally a pretty cautious GM in terms of big risks, he did trade for Stanton but gave up close to no talent there while also getting rid of Starlin Castro's useless deal which allowed them to slot in Gleyber at 2B right away. There is so much that we don't know about which players Cashman is slotting in long-term or planning on going hard after from other organizations, but NY I think is one of the teams that could offer a compelling package and still put a very good team around Soto. Volpe/Dominguez plus 4-5 potential stud pitchers, that has to be very tempting and NY churns out stud pitching prospects now under Matt Blake. Cashman has shown nothing in his history that says he will take this big a swing though, as opposed to his bringing in guys like Clay Holmes and Jose Trevino and Matt Carpenter at minimal cost, all three acquired in the past 12 months for four underwhelming prospects combined. There has never been someone like Soto available though, let alone for 2 1/2 years, so the more I roll this around in my head, the more it makes potential sense to me (and I'm sure to a lot of other actual GMs, heh).

Odds: 17 percent

TB: It does make sense in the way that @VORP Speed explained above, but what is the package they could offer to compete with the NY one I suggested (Volpe/Dominguez and 4-5 genuine SP prospects) above? I don't think baseballtradevalues does a great job keeping up with the actual rapidly changing value of specific prospects, so I am genuinely asking what you think their best offer might be.

Odds: 3 percent unless your offer is more impressive than I can see possible.

TOR: They have the most aggressive front office currently in the division and hence the worst farm system of the five, but they have shown themselves willing to bid as much as they have to to get their trade targets, so I don't rule them out on anyone available currently. The issue they face (similar to the Mets) is that their best prospect to lead a trade package is a C (Moreno), and Kelbert Ruiz is one of the few pieces WAS has in place already, or hopes they have in place. But a Moreno/Martinez/Tiedemann/Groshans offer I think would have to at least get them in the discussion, definitely not ruling them out.

Odds: 10 percent

These obviously made-up odds are assuming he is actually traded by Aug 2, so the other 29 non-WAS teams add up to 100 total. The Dodgers are probably the favorite overall IMO, they figured out the deal for Scherzer/Turner deal with WAS last year and are always seemingly looking to consolidate some of their endless stream of prospects into pricy superstars. I wouldn't be surprised if they got both Soto and Luis Castillo actually. I haven't gone through team by team but the Dodgers would maybe be somewhere at 25 or 30 percent IMO.
Responding to your note in the Sox blurb about Soto “not getting much of a say” in his trade destination. Who knows of course, but I wonder if that’s the case.

Soto's availability is a special circumstance, a generational one that will define a franchise, to put it lightly. Any owner trading for him will need assurance he'd sign a lifetime deal. There are rules against tampering, of course, but the amount of money and franchise resources involved here leaves no room for ambiguity or error.

I don't think Soto can "choose" where he's traded to. But I think he or Boras could make it clear to some teams, or maybe a team, that it's worth it to play out their end of the trade. That Soto seems like a person with pronounced opinions and some measure of ego seems like a factor here too.

We should assume the contract will be record-setting regardless. It'll be a huge win for Soto, for Boras, and the MLPBA. Only a few teams are possibly in at that level. Let's say the Giants, Dodgers, and Cubs all indicate that they're willing to extend him at 15/$500M, and would part with trade packages of comparable value. Soto could, if he wanted, indicate which of those teams he's willing to sign a lifetime deal with. If the Dodgers and Cubs don't get the sense that he'd sign with them, their offers will reflect that.

This is all just a thought exercise, so take it with a grain of salt. But I think the magnitude of a Soto deal within the sport could give him a little more agency in where he goes.
 

BigSoxFan

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What if you had to take Corbin and salary as well?
Corbin would be deal breaker for me. He is a terrible pitcher and the money tied up on him would prevent other moves. And you would almost be forced to put a garbage SP into your rotation. Double whammy.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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Here's the thing, though ... we'll never know what their "real shot" looks like. And, if they don't get him -- and he goes instead, to a team such as the Yankees or Rays -- the board will be filled with posts decrying that the Sox management isn't trying to win.
So what? People are still chirping about Mookie and that deal was great for the Sox. The local media will make all kinds of noise too but if they had their way the Sox would still be looking for their first World Series in a century.
 

EvilEmpire

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Soto's availability is a special circumstance, a generational one that will define a franchise, to put it lightly. Any owner trading for him will need assurance he'd sign a lifetime deal. There are rules against tampering, of course, but the amount of money and franchise resources involved here leaves no room for ambiguity or error.
I think there is little to no chance that any team trading for Soto will get assurances of a lifetime deal.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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I don’t think they have to give this a go at all- they would have nothing to surround him with if they give up all their top prospects. They’d have to build the entire team around him via free agency. Good luck with that.
 

E5 Yaz

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So what? People are still chirping about Mookie and that deal was great for the Sox. The local media will make all kinds of noise too but if they had their way the Sox would still be looking for their first World Series in a century.
My comment was more about posting than about trying to make the deal. To me, posts that claim the Red Sox didn't try to make the deal, even though we'll never know what they offered, lower the IQ of the board. YRMV
 

Comfortably Lomb

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I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
 

E5 Yaz

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I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
Agree completely
 

jon abbey

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Any owner trading for him will need assurance he'd sign a lifetime deal.
Strongly disagree with this, and in fact I would even say that no owner trading for him will get assurance he will sign there long-term. You are trading for the rest of his current control and the right to try to convince him to stay there. Anyway, that's where we disagree on that.
 

jon abbey

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Obviously the Miguel Cabrera trade is the best equivalent to this, but it's also worth looking at the deal the same Nats team made last deadline, trading 1 1/2 years of Trae Turner and 1/2 year of Max Scherzer for the Dodgers' top two prospects, both top 50 guys if I recall correctly (Ruiz and Gray). Neither of those guys committed to LAD longer term, Scherzer is gone now and Turner is a FA after the season.
 

glennhoffmania

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I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
I'm not saying this is a bad strategy, but the flip side is you get him for 2.5 years longer and you have the inside track on extending him. He's said that he would be open to an extension if he thought Washington was going to be competitive. Whether one believes that is another story.

I think the bigger question is what Max asked earlier- how good is he? He is certainly very good but it's not like he has a five year plus track record like, say, Mookie or Trout when they signed.
 

Beomoose

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I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
Are you certain he's on the market in 2 years if he goes to a big-payroll team this season? The "well Mookie's going for Free Agency and isn't going to extend" theory/talking point evaporated within 6 months.
 

jon abbey

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I think the bigger question is what Max asked earlier- how good is he? He is certainly very good but it's not like he has a five year plus track record like, say, Mookie or Trout when they signed.
FWIW, bWAR through their age 23 season: Mookie had 17.9 and Soto has 22.3 and counting (the rest of this season still).
 

BigSoxFan

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I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
Not sure I get this? You’re getting 2+ years of an elite hitter, at a minimum. It’s all about the price. Doesn’t make sense to gut the farm for a mediocre team like the Sox. But he will make sense for other teams closer to contention.
 

Comfortably Lomb

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Are you certain he's on the market in 2 years if he goes to a big-payroll team this season? The "well Mookie's going for Free Agency and isn't going to extend" theory/talking point evaporated within 6 moths.
Well gee, I guess I see increased likelihood of Soto signing with his then team if another once in a century pandemic hits and completely nukes the ability to forecast baseball economics again. You know, like what happened with Mookie. Otherwise, retaining Boras and rejecting an uber-deal from his current team makes it pretty clear what he values.
 

chawson

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Strongly disagree with this, and in fact I would even say that no owner trading for him will get assurance he will sign there long-term. You are trading for the rest of his current control and the right to try to convince him to stay there. Anyway, that's where we disagree on that.
From this Verducci profile of Soto in SI:

"Soto fell in love with baseball because of the Red Sox and their Dominican stars, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz and Manny Ramírez. Young Juan would rip two sheets of paper from a notebook, crumple them into a ball, cover it with tape and act out by himself a Red Sox–Yankees game in a hallway of his house."

I think if Soto wanted to be a Red Sox for life, that fact would be conveyed to JWH, especially given his closeness to team special assistants David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez. I agree that there's likely no formal assurances embedded in the parameters of the trade, but this seems like a circumstance where interested teams will want as much information as possible about Soto's desires, and aren't short on avenues to obtain it.
 
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Beomoose

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Well gee, I guess I see increased likelihood of Soto signing with his then team if another once in a century pandemic hits and completely nukes the ability to forecast baseball economics again. You know, like what happened with Mookie. Otherwise, retaining Boras and rejecting an uber-deal from his current team makes it pretty clear what he values.
Yes, Scott Boras is the boogieman who haunts our dreams. Yes, his "I'm entertaining the notion but want to know the team is going to be competitive" reaction to an uber extension offer from a borderline destitute Nationals team 100% informs us how he'd treat an uber contract extension from a (hopefully) contending Red Sox team in a year or two. Yes, nothing about the world at large today indicates another major, market-jumbling event could possibly happen in the next couple years.

But your statement was:
I really don't understand, at all, the sentiment toward trading anything for a guy who is just going to be available to the highest bidder in two years anyway. Just wait until 2025 if you want to give him the biggest contract ever.
And my point is that it's silly to say there's zero reason to go for him now as if it's written in the deep magic that he'll be there in 2025 to be signed. If we want him, if we think he fits a need and we think we could get him with the pieces we're willing to part with, going now is valid. It might not work out, just like waiting might not, but that's baseball.
 

chawson

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I don’t think they have to give this a go at all- they would have nothing to surround him with if they give up all their top prospects. They’d have to build the entire team around him via free agency. Good luck with that.
I don't think this is true. The Sox don't have these kind of payroll constraints, and the team-building penalties are not the same as they were in the Mookie crunch.

I'm guessing a deal would probably include one of Casas, Mayer and Yorke -- maybe two, but not all three. Duran, a #25 prospect per MLB as of last summer, is probably in there, as is Houck (a Max Scherzer acolyte) or Bello, and maybe two or three from the tier of Dalbec, Downs, Winck, Seabold, Crawford. Package Corbin in the deal (whose "first time through the order" numbers suggest he'd be an alright reliever), and that's close.

As for your other point, we'd still have plenty of prospects, so I don't think "building the entire team around him via free agency" would be the case. Nor would building through free agency be that difficult. Bloom has proven that he can build an above-average bullpen from peanuts. He's shown he can find undervalued arms for cheap, and I think our pitching development team is better than we've seen it for awhile.

Lastly, I think the ancillary benefits of Soto on our team are considerable. It's a legacy move. Pair him with Devers for another Manny/Ortiz situation, and you capture a half-generation of adoration from young baseball fans around the globe. Unlike Mike Trout, he's got a personality to market, and he hardly seems like a guy who'd be rattled by the media attention. In fact, I think he'd court it (which is why I'm bearish on him landing with the Dodgers, where he'd be just another star). In Boston, he'd have the full embrace of Pedro and Papi, and the "next Ted Williams" narrative to play in.
 
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Trlicek's Whip

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[Soto] doesn't provide any defensive or baserunning value, so everything you're getting out of him comes from his bat.
I mean, Manny Ramirez was the same guy for us, wasn't he? Or David Ortiz? Neither of those guys were providing defensive value (or at least they weren't being prioritized if you want to edge case and be sympathetic to Ortiz). Neither of them were providing baserunning value unless they were running the bases from hitting singles, doubles, and HR's. And Manny got a ludicrous contract which one could argue wasn't the worst long-term big money contract signed with regards to return on investment, and that contract wasn't because he was a slick fielder or savvy baserunner.

A good chunk of his offensive value comes from his ability to take a walk. He clearly is a very selective hitter, but I'm sure he has more than his fair share of non-competitive at bats from pitchers who would rather not give anything hittable to the only good player on a terrible team.
This is not Soto's fault, is it? But we have seen consistency in his career to indicate he's not fool's gold. He was there in 2019 for the Nats' world series run in a far better offense than the teams on the field since, and demonstrated elite plate and power skills then too. I mean, no one dings Mike Trout for having a continued discerning eye even though he's been on a few LAA teams where he's the only threat in the lineup (post Pujols, pre-Ohtani, he got by with career years from Justin Upton or Mike Trumbo). And Soto's no Barry Bonds either and regardless of what Bonds was drinking and snorting and shooting during his later years, he was still averaging 100-200 walks and 40+ HR's each season regardless of the rest of his lineup.

I guess what I'm saying is that I doubt it's smoke and mirrors with Soto, and professional hitters are going to be valuable. And Soto's not JAG as a hitter.

If you dropped him on the Red Sox with Devers, JD, and Xander in the lineup, would he still draw all those walks? Or would he hit for more power since he's getting pitched to like any other guy in the lineup?
This is a subjective question that can be molded to fit "Soto's overrated" and "Soto's underrated" simultaneously. Hitters change their approach all the time when on new teams, with new ballparks or changing leagues or in new lineups. Hanging out with new hitting coaches, and being influenced by teammates. (I think of Dalbec's explosion after hanging out with Schwarber in 2021).

Soto will change as a hitter with these moving parts, and as he ages, and as his body continues to change (injuries or not). Maybe Soto sells out patience for power like a lot of guys are doing, knowing he can with the comfort of better hitters surrounding him. Or maybe he's a guy that continues to show patience and power like he's shown us for five years. But "change" doesn't mean "pumpkin" status.

Once again, Soto's not just another guy - and saying he "only hits and walks a lot" really sells him short. In a league where the DH exists guys with better patience and power projections than Trout and a handful of HoF's who contributes offensively to multiple categories and counting stats that matter in real life baseball games for the next two decades is a degree of magnitude higher than "not nothing."
 
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LogansDad

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How good is Soto? There was a lot of big talk about how he was putting up numbers like Ted Williams when he had an OPS+ over 200 in the short 2020 season, but like literally everyone other than Ted Williams, he fell off that pace. He doesn't provide any defensive or baserunning value, so everything you're getting out of him comes from his bat. A good chunk of his offensive value comes from his ability to take a walk. He clearly is a very selective hitter, but I'm sure he has more than his fair share of non-competitive at bats from pitchers who would rather not give anything hittable to the only good player on a terrible team.

If you dropped him on the Red Sox with Devers, JD, and Xander in the lineup, would he still draw all those walks? Or would he hit for more power since he's getting pitched to like any other guy in the lineup?
Uhhhh, what? His rates are .293/.427/.540/.968, with a 162 game average of 32 doubles, 34 home runs and 11 steals, with a 6.1 WAR. Defensively he isn't great, but he isn't incompetent, either.

He has the third best OPS among all Major Leaguers since he got called up in May of 2018, is 21st in home runs, and is behind only Mike Trout in OBP. And he is likely to get better, since he's only 23.

He is really, really, really good.

Edit: That is not to say I think the Red Sox specifically should give up the farm for him, as I agree with Lomb that blowing up the whole farm (that they have worked hard over the last three years to rebuild, an endeavor that is looking pretty successful) for two years of him is worth it for this team. But I really think you might be misjudging just how awesome Juan Soto is at baseball.
 
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dhappy42

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What could the Red Sox offer the Nationals that the Yankees couldn’t top? Soto fits the Yankees and Yankee Stadium really, really well. And he could replace Judge if the Yankees want to let judge walk next year.
 

moondog80

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What could the Red Sox offer the Nationals that the Yankees couldn’t top? Soto fits the Yankees and Yankee Stadium really, really well. And he could replace Judge if the Yankees want to let judge walk next year.
This isn’t the NBA where there are a relatively small number of high value assets; I think that pretty much every team win MLB *could* have the best offer, it’s just a matter of how far they are willing to go. If they really wanted to, the Sox could offer Mayer, Bello, Casas, Yorke, Whitlock, and Rafella. They won’t (I don’t think), but the team that gets Soto will be one willing to go the furthest toward an offer like that.
 

Kliq

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Soto is an interesting player. He's perhaps the most gifted hitter of his generation with incredible plate discipline. That plate discipline gives him sky high OBP, OPS and OPS+ stats, but he is he too disciplined? There a lot of charts and stats that one can look at to marvel at his batting eye; here was one that was going around last year:

53358

That chart shows that out of 174 high fastballs out of the zone that Soto had seen, he hadn't swung at a single one of them. It's an incredible statistic and his plate discipline is awe-inspiring; but I can't help but wonder if he would be more productive if he was more aggressive at the plate and actually swung the bat at some of those pitches. Sure they may be balls, but guys smoke high fastballs that are technically out of the zone all the time, and certainly Soto possesses the hitting ability to make pitchers pay for challenging him up there.

Over the last two seasons, Soto has 88 extra base hits. He has been healthy for that entire period, and his rate stats are very good, his OPS is .962 over that span and his OPS+ is 171. Yet he hasn't been as productive his rate stats would make you believe. He is clearly at a level below the elite hitters of the game when it comes to doing damage at the plate; and I just randomly started looking up how many extra base hits other players have over that same time span.

Devers - 126
Jose Ramirez - 126
Matt Olson - 125
Paul Goldschmidt - 117
Austin Riley - 117
Marcus Semien - 116
Shohei Ohtani - 116
Bryce Harper - 115
Nolan Arenado - 111
Aaron Judge - 110
Yordan Alvarez - 108
Pete Alonso - 106
Freddie Freeman - 104
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 103
Nick Castellanos - 101
Ozzie Albies - 100
Manny Machado - 96
Kyle Schwarber- 92
Mookie - 92 (In 162 fewer PAs than Soto)
Xander Bogaerts - 89

It's obviously not totally indicative of Soto the hitter, but for a guy as gifted as he is, I wonder if he would be better off with a more aggressive approach. I'm sure most managers would gladly trade a few fewer walks and a few more strikeouts for more extra base hits.
 

BoSox Rule

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They use to say that about Ted Williams and recently Joey Votto. You don’t mess with an elite talent’s approach when it turns into historical results and they are that meticulous.
 

Kliq

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They use to say that about Ted Williams and recently Joey Votto. You don’t mess with an elite talent’s approach when it turns into historical results and they are that meticulous.
Yeah but Ted Williams led the league in extra base hits five times. That was what made him Ted Williams; he could walk a billion times and still be the most productive power hitter in the game.
 

Max Power

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They use to say that about Ted Williams and recently Joey Votto. You don’t mess with an elite talent’s approach when it turns into historical results and they are that meticulous.
Right, but Ted Williams did both because he was the greatest hitter who ever lived. He led the league in OBP and Slugging NINE times.

I wasn't suggesting the Soto isn't a great player, but the question is how great. There was a lot of talk a couple of years ago about how he was the second coming of Ted Williams, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Is he going to be Manny Ramirez or Joey Votto? Both were great players, but do you give them a 15 year contract that makes them the highest paid player in the game? The Manny contract worked out great, but that was in the steroid era and it was only 8 years.
 

BoSox Rule

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If you signed Manny after his age 23 season for 15 years you got:

136 games per year with a .316/.415/.593 line, 157 OPS+, 505 HR, and 65.8 WAR which is basically the HOF line in just 15 years, obviously with awful base running and defense but world historical production.

Votto would basically be his entire career, just not including his rookie cup of coffee.

But he came up at 22. Soto has been up since he was 19 so that’s why you entertain signing him now. And just because Soto has Williams’ approach I’m not saying he’s the most productive or top 3 productive hitter that ever lived.
 

chawson

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Yeah but Ted Williams led the league in extra base hits five times. That was what made him Ted Williams; he could walk a billion times and still be the most productive power hitter in the game.
The XBH thing seems like a function of Soto being pitched around in meaningless Nats games. He had 71 extra-base hits in 150 games when the Nats were good in 2019, along with 108 walks. If you look at WPA, wRC+, runs created, runs per game, etc., Soto is comfortably ahead of say, Betts despite the recent XBH gap.

Keep in mind that Votto hadn't even played in a MLB game when he was the age that Soto is now, when he's already amassed 21.4 career fWAR.
 

Kliq

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The XBH thing seems like a function of Soto being pitched around in meaningless Nats games. He had 71 extra-base hits in 150 games when the Nats were good in 2019, along with 108 walks. If you look at WPA, wRC+, runs created, runs per game, etc., Soto is comfortably ahead of say, Betts despite the recent XBH gap.

Keep in mind that Votto hadn't even played in a MLB game when he was the age that Soto is now, when he's already amassed 21.4 career fWAR.
Pitching around him seems like a convenient excuse; the Nationals stink but this season he has had Josh Bell and Nelson Cruz behind him; and last season he had Bell, as well as Trea Turner and Schwarber for the first half of the season in the lineup; there is some level of threat and protection there. You look at the charts like the Baseball Savant one and it shows a guy with incredible plate discipline that never swings at anything other than a perfect strike, not someone who is just getting a bunch of pitches a foot off the plate.

I think Soto is great and worthy of getting the biggest contract of all time given his age and consistent production; I just find his hitting profile is interesting and I wonder if he could become even better if he adjusted his approach just a tad.
 

sean1562

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Also, Juan Soto has a .244 BABIP this season while he has a career average BABIP of .315. He typically hits better in the second half of the season. Last year he had an .854 OPS at the ASB. After the break, he had an OPS of 1.164. He had a slow start to the season this year but has a 1.223 OPS in the last 28 days. His absurd walk rate insulates him from really horrific slumps. Over the last season and a half he has the 15th highest slugging percentage in the league and the best OBP by a huge margin, as a 22 and 23 year old.
 

NoXInNixon

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As long as a team has another dominant hitter or two to bat after Soto, there's really no concern that he gets on base too much via base on balls. Those guys with more extra base hits than Soto, how many more outs did they make?
 

Kliq

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As long as a team has another dominant hitter or two to bat after Soto, there's really no concern that he gets on base too much via base on balls. Those guys with more extra base hits than Soto, how many more outs did they make?
If you are paying someone $400 million+, it won't always be easy to find another dominant hitter or two to put behind Soto.

To draw another comparison to Williams, when teams started experimenting with the shift to stop him, he had a conversation with Ty Cobb about how he was frustrated with shift, and Cobb insisted that Williams should simply bunt to beat the shift and take the free base every time. Williams however was reluctant to do so because he felt that he had an obligation to his team as a slugger that the Red Sox were relying on him to hit homers and doubles, and he couldn't just bunt all the time.

I don't want to sound like a Soto hater or make it seem like that him walking a lot is actually a negative; I just think it is notable that for a guy with his elite hitting talent, he doesn't collect as many extra base hits as you would think and I wonder if he was a little more aggressive, he would be better off.
 

BoSox Rule

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Raw extra base hits sure but it’s not like he doesn’t hit for a ton of power. Yearly slugging is .517, .543, .695 (Covid year), .534, and .497 this year so far. His ZIPS projection for the rest of the year is .294/.445/.556. He’s 23 with a lot of room to improve, and just up until this point in his career his line is .293/.427/.541 for a 160 OPS+. His career OPS+ through age 23 (and he is still heating up and the season isn’t over) is behind only Williams, Cobb, Musial, Trout, Willie Wells, and Pujols.
 

glennhoffmania

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If you signed Manny after his age 23 season for 15 years you got:

136 games per year with a .316/.415/.593 line, 157 OPS+, 505 HR, and 65.8 WAR which is basically the HOF line in just 15 years, obviously with awful base running and defense but world historical production.

Votto would basically be his entire career, just not including his rookie cup of coffee.

But he came up at 22. Soto has been up since he was 19 so that’s why you entertain signing him now. And just because Soto has Williams’ approach I’m not saying he’s the most productive or top 3 productive hitter that ever lived.
That's pretty interesting. My issue with giving Soto a record breaking deal today isn't about whether he's really good or not. He clearly is. Is he the best hitter in the game (I'll ignore base running and defense for now)? At best it's arguable but I'd say probably not. The issue is giving anyone 15 years especially when he's not a FA for 2.5 more years. If he goes through arb he'll make, what, 40m the next two years? But a team would have to give him something like 12/480 (I'm guessing that would be the minimum if he'd take less than 15), pay him double for the next two years, pray he doesn't get hurt, and live with having a huge chunk of their payroll locked in for more than decade without even getting good defense.

I'm biased because I hate all of these deals. Mookie is probably the best one since he was young, great, healthy and a complete player. But I would never want the Sox to sign the deals for Harper, Trout, Lindor, Tatis or Seager. I'm too risk averse.
 

sodenj5

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I think the other part of the equation with Soto is it’s probably much easier to ask him to be a bit more selectively aggressive in certain scenarios than it is to take a free swinger and asking him to master the strike zone.

Also, if his primary skills are his batting eye, his power, and contact, that profile will probably age better or more consistently than a more athletic player that adds value through defense and base running.

Soto has the tools to be a Barry Bonds like player that walks a ton and still slaughters the few pitches he sees.