What would it take for the Cleveland Guardians to trade for Juan Soto?

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 09: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals in the dugout against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Truist Park on July 9, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JULY 09: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals in the dugout against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Truist Park on July 9, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Brett Davis/Getty Images) /

It would appear that Washington’s Juan Soto is now on the trade market – could the Cleveland Guardians be the ones to make that deal?

With Juan Soto turning down a massive 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals, the writing is now on the wall: he’s getting traded.

The only question is when it will happen, and there’s a slight chance it could even take place during this year’s trade deadline if a team swooped in and blew the Nationals away with an offer.

Could the Cleveland Guardians be that team?

What Would It Take for the Guardians to Trade for Juan Soto?

Yes, the notion of trading for arguably the greatest player on the planet might seem like a fantasy for the Guardians. But Washington is looking for a haul for their 23-year-old superstar, and understandably so. Any team that makes this trade will control his services through the 2024 season, so even if said team doesn’t ultimately re-sign him, it will still conceivably get three cracks at the postseason with him.

That being said, a team trading for Soto needs to have serious prospect firepower to pull it off. Lucky for the Guardians, they now have eight prospects in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 – and it’s going to take a significant portion of them to make a deal happen.

Here are just a few prospects the Guardians could realistically part ways with in a hypothetical Soto deal:

  • Gabriel Arias
  • Nolan Jones
  • George Valera
  • Daniel Espino
  • Gavin Williams

That list right there gives you at least a pretty good starting point. Espino hurts given the constantly glowing scouting reports on him, but there’s just no way the Guardians are getting out of this deal without giving up their top pitching prospect. Adding Gavin Williams to the mix just sweetens the deal, though it does deal a significant blow to the Guardians’ pitching pipeline.

If you’re talking about who else Cleveland can afford to give up, Arias, Jones, and Valera enter the scenario. For Arias, his path is currently blocked by a surging Amed Rosario at shortstop and All-Star second baseman Andrés Giménez. You can probably live with dealing him, especially if guys like Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio are also waiting in the wings.

The same goes for Jones and Valera. Though Jones has been off to an exciting start to his major-league career, if Soto is entering Cleveland’s outfield, that squeezes out both him and, to some extent, Valera, a very exciting prospect himself. But I think the Guardians would certainly take an outfield of Steven Kwan, Myles Straw and Soto for a few seasons and look to sort out the wreckage in 2025.

Right there, the Guardians are giving up half of the prospects they have listed in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 and it still won’t be enough. Perhaps a lower-level prospect or two will need to enter the fray.

What Major-League Talent Would the Guardians Need to Trade for Soto?

This is where a potential deal might start to become untenable. Will the Nationals ask for Giménez? Maybe Shane Bieber? Rosario? The Guardians might be able to get away without trading much, if any, major-league talent, as most of the prospects they deal are major-league-ready themselves.

The Nationals might also ask the Guardians to take on the mammoth, painful contract of pitcher Patrick Corbin as well. Washington still owes him $24 million in 2023 and $35 million in 2024, and they’d love to get that awful deal off the books. Corbin, 33, has a 5.84 ERA over the past two seasons, so it’s certainly understandable why the Nationals want to move him, but that’s not a deal the Guardians should take.

If the Nationals are going to hold firm on including Corbin in any deal, Cleveland won’t be in the mix.

So, Could This Deal Actually Happen?

It’s not as unlikely as you might think. There’s no chance in this universe that Cleveland would ever re-sign Soto to a $500 million deal, but getting two-and-a-half years of service right as another contention window opens – and José Ramírez is still in his prime – is a proposition to intoxicating to ignore.

And the Guardians do have very real roster decisions they’ll need to make soon. There is simply not enough room on the 40-man roster, let alone the active major-league roster, for all the aforementioned players and plenty more, so Cleveland will have to make some significant moves regardless. So why not make the biggest move of all and trade for the best player in the game?

Want to hear us talk more about a potential Juan Soto deal? Check out our podcast The California Penal League, which you can get on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you consume your podcasts.