NL West Notes: Soto, Padres, Merrill, Wood, Giants, Heaney, Taylor

Speculation continues to swirl over which team (if any) could pry Juan Soto away from the Nationals before the trade deadline, or even which clubs are the top contenders as we approach August 2. According to Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman of The New York Post, the Nats may be “focusing on one or two teams at the moment ,” with the Cardinals seen by some rivals as a likely contender to be one of those clubs due to St. Louis’ amount of MLB-ready talent. As far as the NL West goes, however, a rival executive tells The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that “I think San Diego is as likely as the other 28 teams combined. They have the players and they have [A.J.] Preller.”

Certainly, the padres‘ president of baseball operations is always open to bold moves, and that confidence extends to the team’s prospects in the sense that the Padres “are confident they can keep replenishing their farm system.” While San Diego has already dealt quality blue-chippers in other deals over the years, more intriguing new names keep emerging. For instance, Rosenthal writes that teams have shown interest in shortstop Jackson Merrill and outfielder James Wood, the Padres’ two top picks from the 2021 draft. Merrill and Wood were both high school selections who are still a few years away from the bigs, so in regards to Soto, the Padres could hang onto the young duo as future building blocks while dealing with other prospects who better fit the Nationals’ demands.

More from the NL West…

  • Tea Giants‘defense was an underrated reason behind the club’s success in 2021, but this year, San Francisco has fallen near the bottom of several major defensive statistics. As a result, Rosenthal reports that the Giants are considering adding a strong defender, ideally for an infielder or DH candidate (Tommy LaStella is cited as an example by Rosenthal). Getting one good glove into the mix might raise all tides, allowing the Giants to better align their fielders and help fill the holes created by multiple injuries around the roster.
  • Andrew Heaney is expected to be activated off the 15-day injured list to start the Dodgers‘ game against the Nationals on Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and other reporters. After two starts to open the season, Heaney has made only one other appearance (on June 19), sandwiched between two lengthy IL stints due to shoulder problems. The left-hander tossed five innings in his last minor league rehab start, and it’s safe to assume LA will keep Heaney’s workload relatively limited as he ramps back up. In other Dodgers injury news, Chris Taylor (foot fracture) took part in batting practice yesterday and might be ticketed for a rehab assignment later this week.

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