There has never been a player traded quite like Washington Nationals star Juan Soto, at least not in modern major league history. Oh, there have been big names, for sure, some as big or even bigger: Mookie Betts, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Rickey Henderson (multiple times) and Reggie Jackson, among others. But in an era when a player's value is a combination of on-the-field production and salary, Soto is a perfect storm of trade hype:
He's one of the best hitters in the league, if not the best. Even though his numbers are down a bit this season, Soto is tied with Bryce Harper for the best weighted runs created (165) in the majors over the past three seasons. And he's been heating up the past few weeks, with an OPS over 1.200 in July.
He's only 23 years old.
He's not a free agent until after the 2024 season, so any team that trades for him will have him for three playoff drives. His salary -- a little over $5 million the remainder of the season -- is eminently affordable for every contender, from the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers to the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians.
Still, some of the trade scenarios we've seen are perhaps a little over the top. Will a team really give up its five best prospects for Soto?
Possibly, but think back to a year ago, when the Nationals traded Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers for Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray and two other minor leaguers. In a sense, Scherzer and Turner are similar to Soto: The Dodgers would get the pair for a combined three playoff drives (one for Scherzer and two for Turner). They hardly had to give up their top five prospects to do so. In fact, in Kiley McDaniel's midseason prospects update in 2021, Ruiz came in at No. 33 and Gray at No. 46.
Maybe Nationals GM Mike Rizzo made a bad deal; maybe Soto is worth more than those two. A similar return would certainly feel underwhelming. As the Nationals consider their options, let's look back at some of the most significant deals from the past two decades to see what kind of lessons can be taken from them -- and whether the Nationals can actually win a Soto trade.
Trade Deadline: Tracker