Make an effort, is all I’m saying. Kim Ng, you need to at least make a call to the Nationals regarding Juan Soto. They will listen, as first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
The Marlins crave offensive upgrades and there are no better options on the trade block than Soto. There’s nobody else even close, frankly. He has been one of the most productive hitters in Major League Baseball since debuting in 2018—ranking third in weighted runs created plus and drawing walks at the highest rate in the game—all while being ridiculously young relative to his competition. Fresh off back-to-back All-Star selections and on his way toward a fourth straight top-10 finish in NL MVP voting, Soto is younger than any position player who has appeared for the Marlins this season. This is a lefty-swinging Miguel Cabrera, with superior plate discipline and athleticism.
It takes a very particular set of circumstances for a player like Soto to become available at this stage of his career. The Nats roster is bereft of MLB talent and nearing an ownership change. Soto deserves a record-setting, long-term contract—make that a record-shattering deal, because Washington put an unprecedented 15-year, $440 million offer on the table and that was still undervaluing him. For a franchise that’s so far away from postseason contention, trading Soto might actually be the most appropriate move at this juncture.
I’m not doing this piece to get your hopes up. The chances of Soto landing in Miami between now and the trade deadline are approximately zero percent. I think that the Marlins front office is too risk averse to do it and that ownership is too cheap to even pay for his remaining arbitration years, plus the Nats may prefer to ship him to a non-NL East team.
However, I have been wrong before. If Marlins leadership flips a switch and decides to operate with a sense of urgency, to give themselves a shot at staying relevant throughout the second half of this season and set themselves up for 2023 and 2024 as well, here’s my blockbuster proposal.
Recently, the Marlins have invested a ton of resources into their outfield via trades, drafts and free agent signings. It has not worked, as mentioned by Just Baseball’s Aram Leighton and picked apart in further detail by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Welp, gotta keep trying! This organization has a frustrating history of compounding poor decisions by awarding playing time based on player pedigree over actual production. Even anticipating moderate rebounds from their existing outfielders, it’s apparent that they are not good enough. So do something about it.
It goes without saying that Soto would be a safe pick-up for the Marlins. He’s had an on-base percentage above .400 in every season of his MLB career. His only stints on the injured list have been brief (back spasms, shoulder strain and COVID-related). Yeah, Soto is hitting poorly with runners in scoring position (94 wRC+), but that comes on the heels of him being as dangerous as anybody the previous two campaigns (213 wRC+). He is exactly what the constipated Marlins offense needs, worth multiple wins in August/September and five-plus wins annually beyond that.
Soto initially played left field for the Nats before transitioning to right full time in 2021. He has done a poor job there this season. In this dream scenario, I would put him back in left, platoon Avisaíl García and Jesús Sánchez in right, use Jorge Soler as Miami’s main designated hitter, play Garrett Cooper mostly at first base, call up Lewin Díaz for defense/pinch-hitting against righties/spot starts and say goodbye to Jesús Aguilar.
You got all of that?
Soto will be owed about $6 million from the trade deadline through season’s end, then he has two more full years of club control. His salary (in millions) will rise into the mid-20s for 2023 and likely the low-30s for 2024, and then he’s a free agent.
The Marlins are not going to extend Juan Soto. He won’t be going into the Hall of Fame with their cap on his plaque, and that’s okay. Two-and-a-half seasons is far different from a “rental.” He is worth this haul.
Would you believe that Victor Robles was hyped even more than Soto a half-decade ago when both were progressing through the Nats farm system?! The Dominican center fielder teased us with 17 home runs as a rookie in 2019—the year of the rabbit ball—but has gone deep only seven times since then. In 2022, he’s had one batted ball travel beyond 400 feet (season stats: .233/.300/.307, 73 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR in 79 G).
In the absence of quality contact, Robles compensates with good defense and baserunning, making him a more complementary player for the Marlins roster than Bryan De La Cruz. His club control is the same as Soto’s (through 2024). I love betting on former top prospects. A simple change of scenery can do wonders for them.
Just pretend that this play never happened pic.twitter.com/kiJHUbQirw— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 14, 2022
Now for a quick rundown on the six Marlins players I put into the trade package:
- Eury Pérez—The best pitching prospect in baseball. It’s painful to part with him, but I don’t see how else the Marlins would outbid Soto’s many other suitors unless they use this teenage phenom as the centerpiece.
Full Futures Game outing for Marlins #1 prospect Eury Pérez pic.twitter.com/IobZ6P768m— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) July 17, 2022
- Trevor Rogers—Through 50 MLB starts, Rogers has a pedestrian 4.00 earned run average. The immense upside is still there, though. He’s gaining valuable experience while trudging through a sophomore slump. It would be totally unsurprising if he made it back to another All-Star Game in the coming years.
- Edward Cabrera—The oft-injured right-hander will be stretched out again for starting duty come deadline time. The Marlins managed his service time carefully enough so that his club control goes through the 2028 season. Another talented arm to plug into the Nats rotation immediately.
- JJ Bleday—The former first-round draft pick is homering twice as often in 2022 as he did during his previous minor league seasons. I’m likely higher on Bleday than the industry consensus, anticipating him to be an above-average MLB bat with 100-plus career dingers.
- Yiddi Cappe—Cappe is steadily growing into his lanky frame and pushing for a promotion to full-season ball (.304/.365/.518, 136 wRC+ in 28 G). Very high upside, but obviously several years away from breaking through to The Show.
- Ronald Hernández—Switch-hitting catcher who has had nearly as many walks as strikeouts in pro ball. The 18-year-old Hernández is more than just a throw-in piece.
For what it’s worth, Baseball Trade Values sees this as a balanced deal.
Would this trade satisfy the needs of both teams? I think so. The Nationals can bank on at least two of the six youngsters they receive to turn into long-term, starting-caliber players. If everything breaks right for Pérez, he could be Soto-level good.
From the Marlins’ perspective, you’d go into August with an improved offense and defense and a starting rotation of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, Max Meyer, Jesús Luzardo and Braxton Garrett. They should not stop there, using a bit more prospect depth to solidify the bullpen.
So there you have it: 1,300 words on a trade scenario with no chance of happening! Congrats on making it to the finish line. As one final favor, please vote in the poll below.
Who says no to this 8-player trade proposal?
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