The Juan Soto trade saga certainly seems to be reaching a crescendo here at the end of the week.
Aside from the big OF trade completed yesterday — including one of the potential Soto suitors (Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees) — we also learned that the Cardinals have already exchanged names with the Nationals. And now, they’re not alone.
Here’s Britt Ghiroli’s reporting on The Athletic Baseball Show podcast: “Speaking of Soto and the Padres … So yesterday, I was told that (CJ) Abrams, (MacKenzie) Gore, and (Robert) Hassell were included in their preliminary offer.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the names, I’d be surprised, but here’s a quick rundown, with caveats aplenty coming after: The shortstop, Abrams, 21, was a consensus top-10 prospect in baseball this season and has already reached MLB. The pitcher, Gore, 23, was the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball last season. And the outfielder, Hassell, 20, is right now a top-25 prospect in baseball. There would certainly be more in any deal for Soto, but that would probably be the three centerpieces.
And on the surface, that seems to check a lot of boxes, right? Two MLB-ready youngsters with pedigree and control and one of the game’s top prospects. However, as Ghiroli points out, it’s not quite so simple: “Let’s be honest, I think if all those guys were healthy, we’d be like ‘Wow that’s a great deal,’ but they’re not. So …”
MacKenzie Gore was *UNTOUCHABLE* a year ago, but he’s struggled at the big league level this season as a starter, has been stashed in the bullpen to get right, and is currently on the IL with an elbow injury. CJ Abrams has also struggled at the big league level (but whatever, that’s not a huge concern yet), but is dealing with a biceps injury.
A package centered around those guys certainly has the name-power, but there’s also no doubt that deal looks way stronger six months ago than it does today. If the Nationals aren’t including Patrick Corbin’s money (and they’ve insisted they will not), then I think that’s a beatable offer by some of the other suitors out there, depending on who else is included.
This isn’t too dissimilar from the Cardinals names thrown around, but only if all of Jordan Walker (top-20 prospect), Masy Winn (top-50 prospect), *and* Nolan Gorman (top-30 prospect, already in MLB) are included. And at least check, they were hoping to NOT include one of those three, which … really shouldn’t get the deal done.
As for the Cubs implications, well, it’s pretty obvious if Soto ends up in St. Louis. But setting that nightmare scenario aside, there’s a lot of overlap with the Padres, who’ve been connected on a package deal for Ian Happ *and* Willson Contreras, but also in salary-dumping deals in the event of a bigger financial trade elsewhere (like Soto). So one way or another, this could directly impact the Cubs.
Ope, and before I click publish, Buster Olney drops this nugget from rival GM’s:
Stay tuned. This has the tenor of something that can happen soon!