Could the Cleveland Guardians really land Juan Soto?

San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants
San Diego Padres v San Francisco Giants / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

There are plenty of rumors involving the San Diego Padres and a potential trade of power-hitting superstar outfielder Juan Soto. Several teams were recently linked to Soto, mostly the usual suspects, but the Cleveland Guardians recently found themselves mentioned alongside the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, and San Francisco Giants as a possible landing spot in the eyes of The Athletic's Jim Bowden (subscription required).

Bowden first instructs anyone to curb the instinct to laugh at the idea, noting that Cleveland could desperately use a hitter in their lineup that possesses his skillset. As far as a potential trade package is concerned, it is suggested that a combination of impending free agent pitcher Shane Bieber and Gold Glove-winning outfielder Steven Kwan. Like Bieber, Soto will also be a free agent after 2024, making it necessary to include someone the caliber of Kwan to complete a deal.

"Bieber is also a free agent after next year and could help the Padres fill the void left by Snell in their rotation and Kwan, a Gold Glove Award winner, would give them improved defense in left field and another high on-base percentage player for the top of the lineup. Of course, from a Guardians standpoint, if they aren’t in the race come July, they could always turn around and deal Soto at the trade deadline."

Jim Bowden on a possible Soto deal

Bieber's inclusion is basically a requirement to make a deal happen between the two sides. There is a very real possibility that the Padres lose Blake Snell to free agency, and they will need to replace his spot in their rotation. From Cleveland's perspective, the Guardians saw the debuts of Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, and Logan Allen this past season, and with their performance, an impending free agent such as Bieber is exactly who should be moved in an attempt to bolster their mostly light-hitting lineup.

Losing Kwan would be tough for Cleveland. The Guardians do not feature many productive hitters outside Jose Ramirez and Josh Naylor. While a bounceback from Andres Gimenez next season could help mitigate a potential loss of Kwan, this is not really a lineup that can afford to subtract major league-caliber hitters from the equation at this point in time. Perhaps San Diego may be interested in one of Cleveland's hitting prospects of the non-Kyle Manzardo or Chase DeLauter variety to make a deal come to fruition.

Are the Guardians really going to be in the mix for Soto? Probably not, but as long as there are murmurs swirling about them dealing the prodigal hitter and with Cleveland having their own set of trade rumors, connections will continue until a swap betwen the two sides is no longer possible.