There are building blocks to almost every trade, with the final transaction typically built on a slow, methodical process through which the teams involved evaluate, theorize, swap concepts and haggle.
But as the Juan Soto talks play out and Washington general manager Mike Rizzo weighs his options, Rizzo's peers say he has a long history of moving quickly -- and decisively. What Rizzo tends to do, rival executives say, is to identify the prospects he wants from a particular organization and then focus his deal-making with that team. "We wanted to talk about [Max] Scherzer and [Trea] Turner," an NL decision-maker said, "but it felt like we weren't really even allowed in the room. It seemed like Rizz kind of made up his mind that he wanted Keibert Ruiz and then worked with the Dodgers."
If the Soto talks play out similarly, then, what will matter the most in these negotiations is who Rizzo wants to augment the Nationals' organization. The message that other clubs have gotten from Washington is that the team wants major-league-ready players -- young players on cheap contracts who are already in the big leagues or close to making their debuts.
Soon enough, rival executives will ascertain whether Rizzo -- who did not return a message for this article -- prefers shortstop C.J. Abrams and/or pitcher Mackenzie Gore, who might be the best trade chips the Padres are willing to offer. Or would Rizzo rather comb through the voluminous wave of position-player prospects the Cardinals could offer, from Nolan Gorman to Jordan Walker to Dylan Carlson. And there are other options who could be made available, if Rizzo prefers to attempt to build a deal around Yankees shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe, or the Giants' Marco Luciano.