Could they use him? Sure,
Do they need him? Not sure.
Would the Washington Nationals move him here after what happened in 2021? Probably.
By early next week, he will likely wear the uniform for someone other than the Washington Nationals.
Sportsbooks project the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees as logical trade targets. These are the teams that look willing to spend money.
The Dodgers, at a mere +350 at DraftKings to win the World Series and +170 to win the National League pennant, can’t become much more valuable to bettors.
A Soto trade would not be transformative in the way that Tom Brady moved the Tampa Bay Bucs from +5000 to +1400 when he came out of retirement to join them (and then did win a Super Bowl).
The Dodgers are already chalk. Soto could only make them shorter, almost into negative numbers.
Dodgers’ bettors who believe he will come here may actually pull the trigger on some futures moves now.
The questions are how strong Soto would make them and can they swing a deal?
Let’s examine the Dodgers’ perspective.
Where would Soto hit?
The Dodgers have one of the league’s most talented outfielders in Mookie Betts. They have the luxury of batting Cody Bellinger EIGHTH. And then another outfielder, like Trayce Thompson, ninth.
On the other hand, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner were the only full-time players batting over .300. Soto is only 23 and hit .351 and .313 in the past two seasons. This year, realizing that Washington is like Alcatraz, Soto is in a .243 funk. He could use another spot, and the Dodgers could use another bat.
Conclusion on Point 1: In favor. They could find a place for his bat.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told mylasports.com:
“It’s very tricky with Soto because Washington doesn’t want to give him up for nothing and he wants a lot of money,”
“There are some problems that can crop up with this. It could upset the chemistry of the team a little bit.
“If you have a guy in that spot, what happens to him? If you were to look at the Yankees, for example, would you take the spot of an (MVP candidate) Aaron Judge? You are not going to do that, so the question is how you think Soto fits your team.
“If a team is already doing well, as the Dodgers are, you don’t want to disrupt that. There is a lot of risk both in the chemistry and in the money.”
Avello said Soto is likely to end up with a contender that thinks it can win sometime in the next couple of years.
“If you are a bad team, he doesn’t want to go to you,” Avello laughed.
No, if Soto wants a bad team, he already has one.
Conclusion on Point 2: Not in favor. Soto looks distracted this year. What happens when he’s in a bigger market and some of his numbers drop off?
Going further on the chemistry angle
Do the Dodgers really want to raid the minor leagues, where they always seem rich in talent, for one player? It’s unknown how projected future Dodgers like Diego Cartaya, Dustin May, Bobby Miller, Andy Pages, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch or Ryan Pepiot will pan out.
But it can be figured that the fewer at-bats for Bellinger, Max Muncy, Thompson and Jake Lamb would cause clubhouse grumbling. Everyone wants to play for a winner, but the key word is “play”
The Dodgers lead the league in runs scored now. The players have found a way to make it work together. Is that worth tinkering with?
Conclusion on Point 3:Not in favor.
Is Soto a Team Player? What about pressure?
He’s already turned down close to $30 million a year for the Nationals. The price could be staggering for the teams that bid on him now. When the Yankees are involved, you will always over-pay. The Yankees regard outspending other teams as a form of religion.
The other part of this point is the expectation that comes with an enormous contract. Soto is young and possibly fragile to criticism that comes with the big salary. That means a little less in Los Angeles than in New York because there’s more of a patience culture in California than in the Big Apple.
Still, on balance, I think Soto has less upside than downside and I think his contract becomes a negative.
Conclusion: Lean negative, could become neutral if Dodgers secure a long-term deal with team control beyond 2024. That would give Soto time to slowly work his way in, just as Francisco Lindor has done in his second year with the Mets. And just as Carlos Beltran did for them after a shaky start.
Three years is not enough of a time frame to invest in Soto.
Can the Dodgers repeat their success from the last Nationals trade?
That was not only a Grand Slam, but a highlight reel blast.
The Dodgers got Mighty Max Scherzer and Trea Turner for Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray and two other minor leagues last year.
Mighty Max pitched splendidly for the Dodgers and Turner has been an enormous plus. He hit .338 for the Dodgers after being picked up last summer. Turner was .308 with 15 homers and 69 RBI shortly after the All-Star break.
All of this came out of the No. 2 spot.
The Dodgers traded into the momentum of a player who has averaged well over .300 for four consecutive seasons.
The National really can’t complain either.
They would never have re-signed Scherzer, who now earns more than $40 million a year with the Mets and has already begun missing time with injuries. They overpaid for him, as New York teams do.
Scherzer, in fact, will probably finish this season with his lowest innings pitched total _ ever _ as a full-time player. Both the Dodgers and Nationals were smart to move on from him.
Gray is taking his lumps but will probably win double-digit games for the Nationals and come in in around 180 strikeouts. Ruiz is a serviceable catcher and may reach 450 at-bats for them this year.
Thus, the culture between the Dodgers and Nationals is a positive one.
Conclusion on Point 5: Yes, these teams could swing a deal.
Final Count: 3 points against, 2 points for, could become dead even if Dodgers get a long-term deal with club control.
Not the worst potential scoreboard for the Dodgers – and fans will be gleeful to have Soto – but not a no-brainer.
My vote is pass, short term, accept the deal at five years or more with the understanding that, as Jack Nicholson said in the “Hoffa” movie, “it’s 6-5 or pick-em.”