Some of the biggest news around baseball right now surrounds the inner workings of a team that is 27.5 games back in their division and has no chance to make a playoff push post All-Star break. Why in the world would Major League Baseball be focused in on the Washington Nationals? Well, that’s what happens when one of the most valuable trade pieces EVER becomes available. Juan Soto recently turned down a $440mil deal offered by the Nationals, and the belief is that the organization is now looking to move the 23 year old superstar. Whatever team trades for Soto will be getting a player that a lot of people believe to be an already lock Hall Of Famer, and they will be getting him at an age that most players are only cracking into the big leagues at (Orioles top prospect Adley Rutschman is already 24). Because of this, 29 teams will be undoubtedly sniffing around concerning what it would take to trade for Soto. While the Phillies are not one of the top landing spots, if Soto is indeed moved this season prior to the trade deadline, there are a couple of reasons why that move could end up being a good thing for the Phils’ playoff chances.
The best case scenario would obviously be a miracle super-deal by Dave Dombrowski and company that gets Juan Soto into a Phillies uniform, but that doesn’t seem likely considering the team’s farm system and tradeable contracts. There are other outcomes that could also be beneficial, though. First off, the Phillies play 11 of their final 70 games against the Washington Nationals. If a Soto trade does indeed happen, the Nats will likely be receiving numerous prospects and a bevy of young talent, but their Major League team should be worse even than what they’ve been so far this season. That gives the Phillies even more of an advantage when the two teams match up. Depending on the destination, though, there could be additional benefits for the Phils. If Soto ends up in LA with the Dodgers, or in NY with the Mets, the National League becomes an even more difficult league to compete in. Those are NOT good scenarios for the Phillies. However, two of the top possible landing spots – the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals – might not be the worst spots for Soto.
San Fran and St Louis are both chasing the Phillies in the NL Wild Card race, with the Cards .001% behind the Phils in winning percentage, and the Giants only a 0.5 game back. That makes them dangerous for the Phillies as the playoffs draw closer, and Soto could push those teams in front of Philadelphia. But packages from each of those teams would be likely to include both prospects and some younger productive/projectible Major League players. Is Juan Soto an incredible player? Yes. But is depth incredibly important with around 70 games left in the MLB season? Absolutely. Going all in has its risks in poker, and it has its risks in baseball. An all-in trade for Soto raises the Giants and Cards’ ceilings, but also deepens their floors. I don’t think that Phillies fans should necessarily be rooting for Soto to be traded to one of the wild card contenders, but there’s a chance that it ends up actually working in the Phils’ favor if it ends up that way. Either way, it’ll be an interesting thing to keep an eye on over the next couple weeks as we inch closer to the August 2nd deadline.