Soto would obviously make the Mets better, certainly this season and likely over the next two seasons as well. With the possible exception of Vientos, none of the prospects we would give up will be on our postseason roster in 2022. And while some of them will likely start seeing meaningful MLB action in 2023 and 2024, I find it unlikely even their combined early-career performance will match Soto's MVP-caliber production. Players of this caliber just don't become available with 2+ years of team control remaining, and none of our prospect have a "sure-fire superstar" profile.
Of course, the fact that Soto's ability and remaining team control make him the most attractive trade target in trade deadline history, and that we don't have any can't-miss prospects to offer, it's likely going to take a boatload of young talent to get him (I don't think the Nats really care that they'd be sending him to a division rival, as they don't seem likely to contend anytime soon). Let's walk through what we have to offer the Nats:
"We don't want to lose him, but the Nats will hang up on us if we say he's not available."
Francisco Alvarez (Catcher, Age 20)
- Depending on whose list you use, he's currently either the #1 or #2 prospect in all of baseball. He was mashing in AA though he's struggled with the bat since being called up to AAA, but I doubt any teams are concerned about a 20 year old catcher struggling in his first 15 games at that level. I suspect he'll be called up for good sometime next year, and will become the primary catcher in 2024. This one would sting, but we just took another catching prospect with our first pick in the 2022 draft, so at least there's a backup backstop plan long-term.
"Good prospects, but not so good they should hold up a deal for Freakin' Juan Soto."
Ronny Mauricio (Shortstop, Age 21)
- A borderline top 50 prospect, he's a power-hitting infielder who may end up at third due to a limited range. There is a question of whether he'll make enough contact and take enough walks, as he's in the midst of his second consecutive season of hitting under .250 with an OBP under .300. But the big question is where he fits on the Mets, as Lindor is locked up for the foreseeable future and our presumed third baseman of the future currently plays next to him in AA (more on him later).
Alex Ramirez (Centerfield, Age 19)
- A borderline top 100 prospect, he's an all around talent who was hitting well in A ball, and is hitting even better since his call up to A+. He's a potential star, but his floor is a good fielding/adequate hitting CF at the MLB level (assuming good health, of course). Personally this would sting, but I can't see the Nats trading Soto without getting at least one quality OF prospect in return.
Mark Vientos (First Base/Third Base/Left Field, Age 22)
- Also a borderline top 100 prospect, depending on whether one prefers younger prospects with huge upside or guys closer to being MLB ready with high floors. He's a bat-first prospect who is likely to be a below-average fielder at any position, which is no longer a problem with the DH coming to the NL. As mentioned above, he could get called up before September, though at this point it would probably require a few injuries making his bat a necessity. Assuming we stay healthy, Vientos probably becomes our primary DH at some point next year. But as it's pretty easy to cobble together a productive DH platoon, and adding Soto means this year we'd have Canha, Vogelback, and Davis as potential DHs on a given night. And I don't think you should hold up a deal for a superstar for a DH who isn't the next Frank Thomas.
"Let's sweeten the deal"
Joel Diaz (Starting Pitcher, Age 18)
- He's something like our 10th best prospect. An upside talent struggling in his first year of minor league action, he's basically a lottery ticket with a major league fastball who needs to develop his secondary pitches. Maybe he ends up a quality major league starter, maybe he ends up as a decent bullpen arm, or maybe he flames out and is out of baseball in a few years.
- OK, we all know who Dom is, and that he hit well in 2018 and 2019, but struggled last year and was struggling this year before getting hurt. Supposedly teams have been asking about him in trades, so it appears he's still an attractive trade chip. He's under team control for two more years, and gives the Nats a MLB bat for first or DH for the next few seasons.
Brett Baty (Third Base, Age 22)
- He's somewhere between #10 - #30 among all MLB prospects, currently raking in AA after raking last year in A+. He's a solid fielder who should stick at third. He'll probably see his first taste of MLB action in September, and may be our starting third basemen on opening day 2023, and if not should be called up for good at some point later in the year. Considering we don't seem to have any other good options at third base, now or for the foreseeable future, this is where I draw the line in a Soto deal. I can live with shipping out Contreras, and any three non-Baty prospects the Nats want (if they prefer Matt Allan instead of Vientos, have at it), and any two lottery-ticket low minors prospects.
So my proposed "best" offer for Soto is Alvarez, Mauricio, Ramirez, Vientos, Diaz, and Dom, or something equivalent to this deal. In return, the Nats give us Soto, make us take on Corbin's contract (ugh), and throw in Steve Cishek to bolster our bullpen. Not sure if the Nats would ultimately accept this, but it's a serious offer with a lot of quality young talent, so I think they would at least give it serious consideration.
However, I'd rather work out a deal with the Cubs for Contreras and Robertson. As they are both two month rentals, and Contreras is 30 and Robertson is 37, it would require far less to acquire them and Contreras would fill a bigger hole in our lineup (Canha/Naquin feels like an adequate platoon for LF). Build an offer around the aforementioned Ronny Mauricio, who doesn't seem to have a clear path to our major league roster anyways. Add in Dom Smith and Khalil Lee, satisfying the Cubs desire for young players who can contribute in 2023 (Lee should at least be a quality fourth OF, and could be a good CF if he reaches his potential).