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How could the Phillies trade for Juan Soto?

A completely realistic and serious look at how the Phillies could land one of the top young hitters in the game.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies
Juan Soto crushing the Phillies, one of his favorite pastimes.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the baseball world was gifted with a brief break from conversations about the lockout when the news broke that Juan Soto turned down a 13-year, $350 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals last fall.

It really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Soto turned down that offer. Accounting for inflation, it’s worth less money than the 13-year, $330 million contract Bryce Harper signed in 2019, and Soto is three years younger than Harper was when he signed that deal.

The more interesting piece of news in the Juan Soto story, therefore, is not that he turned down that particular deal, but that he had this to say about it: “right now, my agents and I think the best option is to go year by year and wait for free agency.” Soto could change his mind, of course, especially if the Nationals come back with a sweet enough offer. But his comments certainly suggest that he is planning to become a free agent after the 2024 season.

The Nationals are projected to be one of the worst teams in baseball next year, and it’s hard to see them becoming contenders again before Soto hits the open market. That means there is a chance the Nationals will start listening to trade offers for Juan Soto in the next couple of years.

I want to be clear that I’m not endorsing this. It would be a bad idea for the Nationals to trade one of the greatest players of the twenty-first century, and perhaps even one of the greatest hitters of all time. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. We’ve certainly seen MLB franchises do stupid things before (like the whole lockout thing, for example).

So, in a world in which Juan Soto is available in a trade, what would it take for the Phillies to acquire him? Here are some possible trade proposals.

Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, and Logan O’Hoppe

Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, and Logan O’Hoppe

At first glance, this might seem like a bad trade proposal. And that’s because it is. But here’s the thing — since I started with this really awful proposal, my other stupid trade proposals will look better in comparison.

The entire 40-man roster

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: Everyone from José Alvarado to Luke Williams

This could work. The Phillies roster is close to playoff contention, and with some of the Nationals’ better players subbed in, like Josh Bell at DH, Victor Robles in center field, and Patrick Corbin at the back of the rotation, that roster could be seriously competitive. The Nationals could be back in the World Series before they know it.

The Phillies, in return, get John Middleton’s favorite thing: payroll flexibility. Juan Soto is set to make about $15.5 MM next year, giving the Phillies almost $200 MM to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold. They could sign Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, Kris Bryant, and more, and end up fielding one of the most top-heavy rosters of all time. If nothing else, I bet they’d sell a ton of jerseys.

“The Ol’ Switcheroo”

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, J.T. Realmuto, Bryson Stott, Mick Abel, Andrew Painter...

...but not the Harper, Wheeler, Realmuto, Stott, Abel, and Painter you’re thinking of. What the Phillies should do is find six guys on the street, offer them a thousand bucks to legally change their names, and then trade those guys to the Nationals in exchange for Juan Soto. The Nationals will never see it coming. It’s so simple, yet brilliant. How has no one thought of this before?

Chores for a week

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies: will do all of the Nationals’ chores for a whole week.

Growing up, whenever I wanted something from my little sister, I’d offer to do her chores for a week. That’s how I convinced her to give me her dessert, her birthday money from Grandpa, and her Club Penguin password. Nobody likes doing chores.

This Swarovski crystal-encrusted Phillies baseball

Philadelphia Phillies Crystal Baseball via MLBshop.com

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: The shiniest baseball ever made.

This things has got to be worth a ton of money, right? It might not be quite as valuable as Juan Soto, but I bet the Phillies could convince the Nationals to take it. It’s so shiny.

John Middleton’s firstborn son

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: John Powers Middleton

I’m sure you’re familiar with the old Grimm Brothers fairy tale “Rumpelstiltskin,” in which a poor young woman offers a strange man her future firstborn child if he can help her spin straw into gold. The Phillies finding a way to trade for Juan Soto would certainly be comparable to spinning straw into gold. However, the thought of offering up an unborn child in any kind of deal is horrifying, and honestly, I don’t even want to joke about it. Fortunately, I feel perfectly comfortable joking about trading John Middleton’s 38-year-old son in a Rumpelstiltskin-type deal.

Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, and Logan O’Hoppe

Philadelphia Phillies v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Nationals trade: Juan Soto

The Phillies trade: Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, and Logan O’Hoppe

I know what you’re thinking: didn’t you already read this proposal, and didn’t you think it was a stupid idea? Yes and yes. But here’s the thing: repeating stupid ideas is scientifically proven to make them sound smarter. Haven’t you ever used Twitter?