Let’s Make Some Deadline Trades!

Andrew Benintendi
Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

We’re just about a week from 2022’s trade deadline, and so far, it’s been a quiet one. This weekend’s trade of Daniel Vogelbach for Colin Holderman is the most significant swap yet this July unless you’re a fierce partisan for Christian Bethancourt or Tyler Wade.

It would be highly unusual if we didn’t get a lot more trades of far more significance this week, but knowing what happens will involve some waiting. And since waiting to talk about moves isn’t fun, it’s about time for my yearly feature in which I kick things off with some trade imagineering. None of these are predictions of what actually will happen, but kind of a kickoff exercise where we have a lot of fun discussions — hopefully not too many of them involving people being mad at ol’ Szym!

The San Francisco Giants acquire OF Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals for SS Marco Luciano, P Kyle Harrison, OF Luis González, OF Heliot Ramos, and the privilege of not being P Patrick Corbin’s employer

I’m actually unconvinced that the Nationals trade Soto at all this week and expect a trade to be more likely in the winter than right now. While the Yankees seem to be the clearest target, I think them making a deal is the most likely at a point where they have more clarity on the status of Aaron Judge and how much money exactly they have to play with, especially with Washington’s apparent insistence on including Corbin in a deal.

Corbin is a giant monkey wrench; this is not a simple case of a small amount of money going one way or another, but a deal with more than $60 million remaining, with little hope of it being anything but a de facto charge. I think the inclusion opens the way for a team in a better situation to eat the $60 million rather than give another top prospect. For me, that makes trying to conjure a deal with the Giants work. San Francisco has payroll room to play with and doesn’t have the depth in top prospects that teams like the Yankees and Mariners can offer. Plus, it may just be my memory playing tricks with me, but I remember the Giants having a long relationship with another franchise corner outfielder with tremendous power and nearly clairvoyant plate discipline.

Ramos is basically one of the extras at this point, and González is included because Washington also appears to want current major league talent in return for some odd reason. If Washington’s red line is Logan Webb, I politely thank them for my time and look elsewhere; if I’m starting with a trade of three years of Webb for two years of Soto and a forced acquisition of Corbin, I’m not sure I’d include any prospects of interest. Two top-50 prospects and picking up Corbin’s deal, the financial equivalent of a 65 FV prospect, plus a decent MLB-ready player and an extra or two is as far as I would go if I’m the Giants.

The St. Louis Cardinals acquire P Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds for SS Masyn Winn, OF Alec Burleson, and P Tink Hence

I’ve seen people talk about the Castillo possibility before, but that usually involves trading Matthew Liberatore to the Reds, something I don’t see happening. It’s more likely that they need Liberatore at some point again this season, even with Castillo on the roster, given the injury concerns surrounding most of the team’s rotation. Winn has had a solid year that looks even better when you consider how young he is, and Burleson can likely be in Cincinnati’s outfield fairly quickly. The Reds are fascinated with raw young talents (see Hunter Greene), and I think that Hence would be an extremely interesting pitcher for them. As for St. Louis, Castillo would stabilize the rotation quite a bit and give the team a head start on 2023. Soto would be even more fun here, but I don’t think that outfield is the greatest need.

The New York Mets acquire C Willson Contreras from the Chicago Cubs for 1B Mark Vientos

While some Cubs fans may think this is a light return, Vientos has been a favorite of ZiPS for a while, and it’s a similar return to what the Cubs received last year for a couple months of the services of Kris Bryant and Javier Báez (Pete Crow-Armstrong wasn’t as highly ranked then as he is now). Vientos has fascinating power, but he’s already hitting well in Triple-A, and I get the impression that if the Mets were that wedded to his services, we would already have seen him in the majors at some point this season. Instead, they have more faith in a J.D. Davis/Daniel Vogelbach DH combo.

The Mets have a hole at catcher with James McCann out with injury and, let’s be honest, they have a hole at catcher when McCann is perfectly healthy. New York is nursing a small lead in the NL East, and filling one of the biggest problem positions is a good way to help maintain it. As for Chicago’s end of things, Greg Deichmann has struggled this year for the Cubs at Triple-A, and there’s room for an additional 1B/DH with power at the major league level.

The San Diego Padres acquire OF Joey Gallo from the New York Yankees for OF Corey Rosier

The hiccup in a possible Gallo trade isn’t so much the prospect the Yankees get in return but the willingness of a real contender to take a chance on him amid a truly abysmal season. The Padres like to roll the dice a bit on these upside plays, and I can’t see any of the other playoff-relevant teams being as interested in Gallo as they are. While the Brewers might be a better fit, I’m not sure they’re as likely to take the gamble. San Diego needs power, and if the cost is minimal, seeing what a change of environment can do for a couple of months is an interesting play to me. Rosier would add some center-capable depth to the Yankee organization; ZiPS sees a peak from him that doesn’t look dissimilar from Brett Gardner before his power breakout.

The Minnesota Twins acquire P Frankie Montas from the Oakland Athletics for OF Austin Martin, P Matt Canterino and P Simeon Woods Richardson

In the three-way fight for the AL Central, the Twins could use another starting pitcher, especially one who could return next season. Castillo fits the bill, but since I already sent him to the Cardinals, I can’t send him to the Twins also, or else the dream police may be coming to arrest me. ZiPS currently ranks the Twins as the No. 21 rotation in baseball, but adding Montas would bump that up to 13.

A lot of the shine has come off Martin as his power has not developed, but that’s less of a big deal for a team playing in the Corporate Name of the Year Coliseum (at least for now). One of Oakland’s strengths is its ability to churn out No. 2 starters at will, and I think the team could do well ironing out Canterino’s command and Woods Richardson’s lack of velocity.

The Atlanta Braves acquire OF Andrew Benintendi from the Kansas City Royals for P Freddy Tarnok, OF Brandol Mezquita, and OF Tyler Collins

The Yankees are connected with Benintendi regularly in the rumor mill, but I think that he’s a better fit for an NL team that has a lower probability of having road games in Toronto. The Braves could use an extra outfielder, and unless the bidding becomes fierce, Benintendi’s free agent-to-be status likely keeps the prospect return from being too rich, especially as he’s not one of Kansas City’s legacy players. Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario haven’t been cutting it in left field for the Braves, and due to season-ending surgery, the former is no longer even an option. Tarnok gives the Royals a pitcher who is not too far away from the rotation, and Mezquita and Collins give them some additional outfield depth, of which the system could use more.

The Chicago White Sox acquire OF Ian Happ from the Chicago Cubs for P Jared Kelley, OF Oscar Colas, and P Norge Vera

I so want to get the White Sox in the Soto race, but I don’t see them having the prospects to tempt the Nationals, nor do I think that owner Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to shell out a hefty sum to keep him in Chicago for the next decade. Josh Bell is another possibility, but he’s not an outfielder, and I’m trying not to leave the White Sox with Eloy Jiménez and Andrew Vaughn playing the outfield simultaneously with Luis Robert out with blurred vision and lightheadedness. I’d also love to give them a second baseman, but the pickings are slim there.

Similar to the problems with a theoretical Soto trade, I don’t think the White Sox have the players to dent the apparent intransigence of the Pirates and Athletics to trade Bryan Reynolds and Ramón Laureano, respectively. That leaves Happ, a versatile outfielder who has put a disappointing 2021 season behind him. He’s a good enough outfielder to keep Vaughn from needing to wear a glove and can fill in at center field. Given the team’s situation, even his ability to at least fake being a second baseman has some value with the Sox.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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asuray
20 days ago

Using your SFG trade as a starting point for a SEA offer — Soto + Corbin for Kelenic + Trammell + Marte + Hancock. Thoughts? I was thinking that Kelenic is the Ramos in the deal (young, talented, poor performance to date), Trammell is Gonzalez (Trammell is younger and had a higher ceiling as a prospect), Marte as Luciano and Hancock as Harrison. Luciano and Harrison are each maybe a tick above Marte and Hancock as prospects.

HappyFunBallmember
20 days ago
Reply to  asuray

The talent isn’t too dissimilar, but does SEA have the stomach to eat Corbin’s contract?

Dooduh
20 days ago
Reply to  asuray

Yeah, I think the M’s will be right there on this as long as they are willing to include Marte, and they should be with other SSs in the org.

mikejuntmember
20 days ago
Reply to  Dooduh

I would guess this plays out similar to the Betts situation, where the Dodgers/Yankees become the favorites if the Nationals do indeed insist on dumping Corbin and not a pure talent return, whereas the Padres, Cardinals and others can offer pure-talent packages that line up better with the Nationals timeline.

The Dodgers and Yankees have a harder time offering equivalent pure-talent packages without dipping into talent already at the MLB level or that they’re expecting to contribute in a place of weakness in fairly short order. And since those things weaken the existing title push, it makes the benefit of adding Soto smaller (on top of any difference in current performance at that position vs the competitors, notable in the Dodgers instance because their LF is a lot better than the worst Padres corner OF slot, so the Padres realize more benefit from the same performance to the tune of an extra win to win and a half)

Last edited 20 days ago by mikejunt
sadtrombonemember
20 days ago
Reply to  asuray

Marte and Luciano are very similar prospects, and Brash has a lot of similarities to Harrison. If you threw in Kelenic and offered to take back Corbin’s contract as well I think the Mariners would easily beat the offer here, even without including Trammell (who is better than Gonzalez) and Hancock. Kelenic is still much more valuable than Ramos. Kelenic could turn it around and even be an above-average regular; Ramos, at this point, looks like a possible 4th or 5th outfielder.

Dooduh
19 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The M’s can also throw Kyle Lewis into the mix or rather than Trammell. So they can put together a very viable package of young players and prospects.

sadtrombonemember
20 days ago
Reply to  asuray

IMO, the big surprise for me is the requirement that a team take back Corbin. It sure seems like this is something that the Nationals are at least asking about. Maybe they just figure that the prospect value is so high it’s not even worth asking about what they really think Soto is worth and just put in Corbin instead.

kylerkelton
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I think everyone is adding Corbin to the trade simply because it’s close to impossible for a team to acquire Soto by himself. His value is just too high.

TKDCmember
20 days ago
Reply to  kylerkelton

If the Nats want any hope of contending in the next 4-5 years, they should try. Fangraphs lists dozens of players for each team in its prospect write ups. Just because a team has never really traded more than 4-5 guys doesn’t mean they can’t.

The Nats farm is a joke. Their young MLB talent is underwhelming (being nice, Ruiz and Josiah have potential, sure). Getting a couple premium prospects for Soto and using the rest of his value to dump Corbin is essentially saying you don’t really want to rebuild right now. Even if you get a player that turns out to be great, that isn’t enough. The Nats are the worst team in MLB right now and that is with Soto. They need a haul of prospects and then a prayer that most of them turn out. Otherwise they will be perpetually hoping to maybe beat out the Marlins for 4th place for at least most of the rest of this decade.

OddBall Herrera
20 days ago
Reply to  TKDC

Lowering the return because you demand that someone eat the Corbin contract, so that you can save money during a window when you’re not prepared to throw it at anyone anyway, because you’re rebuilding, would be a colossal waste.

CC AFCmember
20 days ago

Of course it would. But when have you ever known owners to let things like that get in the way of profit?

cowdisciplemember
20 days ago
Reply to  CC AFC

It only makes sense through the lens of selling the team. You probably have a bigger market for the franchise if the initial years’ payroll cash flow is as limited as possible. That said, it still sucks.

gettwobrute79member
20 days ago

Agreed. But I don’t think anyone pays the cost for just Soto in prospects. So they’d have to wait and pass the time while Soto’s control dries up a little and the price comes down otherwise.

Without Corbin, what’s the equivalent deal from SF? I don’t think Luciano’s, Harrison, Mayos, Ramos gets you that close.

Last edited 20 days ago by gettwobrute79
Petey Bienelmember
20 days ago
Reply to  TKDC

But for disagreeing about Ruiz (I think 2 fWAR is his floor), this is pretty much spot on. Including Corbin in a deal at the expense of prospect is infuriating, tbh. To get an idea of how bad the farm is with respect to position prospects, Eric’s system review has the closest 45 or higher position prospect with an ETA of 2025. Basically, no internal position helps for 2023 or 2024, the remaining years of Soto control.

kylerkelton
20 days ago
Reply to  TKDC

I agree with you, I was just saying why Corbin is almost always included.

sadtrombonemember
20 days ago
Reply to  kylerkelton

I saw something suggesting that the Nats did want the other side to take Corbin. Not sure how important that is to them but it’s something they want. IMO they’d be way better off just maxing the prospect return. Corbin’s deal expires in 2 years and they can just not spend money elsewhere until then.

joe_schlabotnik
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

lost in all the corbin talk is fringe possibility that he actually turns it around a bit on his own. in which case, the nats could just salary dump him for peanuts a year from now. I am a fan of corbin the reliever idea. Why not? hes as bad as one could possibly be right now.

and i think all the speculation has been speculation thus far, i haven’t seen a credible writer suggest that corbin is do or die. but maybe preller or jerry will be crazy enough to accept that to make it happen. i think thats what the nats may be angling for

fjtorres
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Maybe its a negotiating ploy?
“If you won’t take Corbin we’ll want an extra 65 or equivalent.” 😆

GoatHerdermember
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The other angle I thought of is that by including Corbin in Soto deal you are then freeing up payroll over the next couple of seasons. Not that I expect Nats to compete but that gives them flexibility to sign several buy low players each off season with the idea they bounce back and are then later traded at deadline.

In theory the prospects on the sign and flips could be greater than the add’l prospects they would get for not including Corbin in a Soto deal.

NATS Fanmember
20 days ago
Reply to  GoatHerder

The Lehners are selling and taking that money!

NATS Fanmember
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

I think there are teams that could turn Corbin around. The Mariners are one and so are the Padres. Both of them should have confidence in their pitching coaches to get him back to at least average.

Dag Gummit
18 days ago
Reply to  NATS Fan

My take is on a similar vein. Corbin’s underperformed his xFIP 3 years in a row. While I’m far from an expert on being able to duly explain it, to my casual stat-nerd eye, I can see some teams out there thinking they might be able to get some kind of production out of him.

From there, it’s a matter of how much of a discount does that give on the talent cost.

Last edited 18 days ago by Dag Gummit
Ivan_Grushenkomember
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Why does including Corbin have to mean the receiving team pays his entire contract? Nats can kick in a bunch of the money

Mean Mr. Mustard
20 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

If the Lerners are clearing the books for a sale, it makes all the sense in the world. They’re not going to be personally invested down the line, so prospect return doesn’t mean as much to their timeline. Clearing the books for less liability opens up more options as far as buyers.

v2miccamember
19 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The ownership situation is likely playing a role in this trade as well. The current Nationals owners are looking to sell the team shortly. Getting as many long term obligations off the book as possible will help in making the sale that much more appealing to potential buyers.
But, I think Dan is correct in that I doubt that Washington will move Soto before this winter. Realistically, no team can really offer comparable value for 2+ seasons of cost controlled Soto. So, squeeze what marketing value you can out of him for 2022. Rizzo will still be able to command a kings ransom for him in the winter meetings.

lvmnzmember
18 days ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

Mike Rizzo said in an interview this week that he didn’t want to ‘dilute’ return with selling bad salary, so I think he heard the outrage at the prospect (sry) of doing that enough to feel compelled to quell it specifically.