The Major League Baseball offseason is underway, and players and fans are already getting excited about what their favorites teams may look like in 2024. One thing that helps us get through the wait until next season is the rumors and speculations. It has been widely speculated that the San Diego Padres are looking to trade superstar Juan Soto, and the Baltimore Orioles might be able to assist them.
Could the Orioles pull off a trade for Juan Soto this offseason?
Soto came up as a 19 year old phenom with the Washington Nationals in 2018 and was an immediate star. He helped lead the Nationals to a World Series championship in 2019 and won a batting title in 2020. Soto continued to perform at a high level but was traded by Washington to the San Diego Padres in 2022 after the Nationals were unable to extend him.
After underperforming with the Padres in 2022, Soto rebounded this season. His batting average was improved and his MLB leading 132 walks allowed his OBP to remain elite. Soto’s 35 home runs and 109 RBI’s both would have led the Orioles.
While mostly known for his offense, Soto is also a quality defender. He matched his career average with a .989 fielding percentage and doubled his single season career best with 10 assists this season. It isn't hard to convince any baseball fan that Juan Soto would be an asset to any team.
The Orioles are in a great position to make a move for a player like Soto. They have talent in excess at almost every position, and even though pitching might be their primary goal this off-season, it’s difficult to pass on an opportunity to get a player of Soto’s caliber.
The Padres might be looking to move Soto, but it doesn’t appear that they’re going into a full rebuilding process, so they will likely be looking for players who can make an immediate impact.
If the Padres are looking for proven players, the return package from the Orioles would likely center around Anthony Santander. He is one of only seven American League hitters with at least 250 hits, 150 runs, 100 walks and 60 homers over the last two seasons. The others are a who’s who of top hitters in the AL in the persons of Yordan Alvarez, Rafael Devers, Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani.
Both Santander and Soto are entering arbitration in the final year of their contracts. Soto is projected to make $27 million and Santander $14.1 million per spotrac. Santander has played mostly right field but does have plenty of experience in left field, a position he would likely move to in San Diego, since Fernando Tatis Jr was just recently awarded the platinum glove in right field for the Padres.
If the Padres would like to get younger, a trade package around Colton Cowser could also be discussed. Cowser is the Orioles #2 prospect and #14 overall in baseball. Cowser struggled in his major league debut this season but is still a very solid prospect.
He has mashed the ball all through the minors and is expected to be able to make the adjustment to major league pitching. He is also a very good defender that can play anywhere in the outfield.
The Padres roster looks to need help in the starting rotation and first base. The O’s have several players that are either in the majors or will be major league ready in 2024 at both of those positions. When it comes to adding a talent like Soto, only a few players in the organization should be considered off limits. These two franchises could make a trade that allows both parties to walk away winners. With the top ranked farm system in the game, the Orioles certainly have the assets to make it happen if they choose.