The St. Louis Cardinals, who have a bevy of highly regarded young players, are viewed by rivals as a potential front-runner to land superstar Juan Soto.
The Mets and Yankees are among at least a half-dozen teams believed to have checked in. But there is no early sense that either New York team is at the forefront of talks. A few suitors have been told the Nats are focusing on one or two teams at the moment, and some believe the Cardinals are in the group getting early attention. The Mariners are yet another team seen early as having a chance in this derby.
Nats people are declining comment for now, though one NL executive said about the Cardinals’ chances here: “Good farm system.”
The Nats are an organization that relies heavily on scouting, and there’s word they like a lot of the Cardinals’ young players and prospects. The Cardinals line up for what the Nationals want — not just prospects, but young, controllable players already in the majors. Their top young major leaguers include outfielders Dylan Carlson, Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill, plus infielders Nolan Gorman and Brendan Donovan. Third baseman Jordan Walker, shortstop Masyn Winn and pitcher Matt Liberatore are among the best prospects in the sport.
The Cardinals have the kind of quality pieces to offer that they would not have to take back a “bad” contract. There are rival teams that believe the Nationals would also like to off-load the contract of Patrick Corbin as part of a deal. Corbin, who is owed $59 million for 2023-24, has a 5.66 ERA in 62 starts since the beginning of the 2020 season.
Soto’s 2022 salary is $17.1 million, and that alone wouldn’t discourage any interested team.
In addition to the Cardinals and the two New York teams, the Dodgers, Padres, Giants and Mariners are among other teams thought to be showing interest. The Post first reported the interest of the two New York teams. Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported many of the other teams, and suggested a couple days ago they were all due to make bids. Here’s a rundown of the seven known hopefuls:
They have a terrific stash of position players, which the Nats badly need and St. Louis is in need of a boost in what’s been a disappointing start to the season. The Cardinals’ greater need is starting pitching, but this may be an opportunity that’s hard to pass up. Star third baseman Nolan Arenado also has an opt-out at year’s end.
The aggressive Padres could do it as they, too, have quality youngsters such as shortstop CJ Abrams, pitchers MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon and Ryan Weathers and outfielders James Wood and Robert Hassell III, who drew extra attention at the Futures Game. Fernando Tatis Jr. isn’t one they’d offer, The Post reported. The Padres were deep in negotiations for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner last year but ultimately could not match up with the Nats.
As usual the Dodgers have the young players and prospects, including infielders Gavin Lux and Michael Busch and pitchers Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot. They have shown a penchant for luck taking in recent years and were able to make the Scherzer-Turner deal last year with the Nats, who focused on catcher Keibert Ruiz, which paid off for them.
Two of their top prospects are young shortstops — Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. There are not universal high grades for outfielder Jasson Dominguez, who homered in the Futures Game. The Yankees have a group of talented, near-major-league-ready arms, including Rafael Medina, Ken Waldichuk and Will Warren. It is possible that with recent pitching injuries to Luis Severino and Michael King that the Yankees concentrate more on pitching, notably Cincinnati ace Luis Castillo.
The Mets’ top prospect is catcher Francisco Alvarez, which is one position the Nats don’t really need after obtaining Ruiz last year. The bigger issue is that they reside in the NL East, and it’s hard to imagine Washington wants to face Soto so often the next 2 ½ years — or likely way more than that since the Mets can obviously afford to extend him considering Steve Cohen’s largesse.
They obviously have the desire to break their two-decade playoff-less streak. Soto could pair with Julio Rodriguez, whom he beat in the Home Run Derby finals, to form an awesome 1-2 lineup punch. They have talented young pitchers such as George Kirby, Emerson Hancock and Matt Brash and a top shortstop prospect in Noelvi Marte.
They previously tried hard for Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper so they have the interest. Prospects such as shortstop Marco Luciano, outfielder Heliot Ramos and pitchers Kyle Harrison and Will Bednar aren’t bad but may not be able to match the Cards and a couple others.