That sounds crazy in a vacuum: why would any team want to deal a 23-year-old elite hitter who is nowhere near his prime?
Well, everything has an explanation.
The Nationals want to lock up Soto long-term, but their efforts have been unsuccessful.
Seeing how he turned down $440 million last weekend, they are starting to understand they might not be able to afford him, and they don’t want to lose him for nothing.
He still has two-and-a-half years of team control, but he is at the peak of his value right now.
That’s why a trade, if they are not willing to meet his price for an extension, might make sense.
The league is thrilled about the possibility of Soto switching teams, and teams are lining up to make an offer.
Why is he so special?
What does he have that other slugger don’t?
MLB insider Mike Petriello explained it in his most recent tweet.
“Not that anyone doesn’t get how great Juan Soto is, but .. this is best-ever hitters through age 23, min 1,000 PA. Look at these names. That’s why you’re going to hear about him endlessly. These guys just don’t become available,” he said.
Not that anyone doesn't get how great Juan Soto is, but .. this is best-ever hitters through age 23, min 1,000 PA. Look at these names. That's why you're going to hear about him endlessly. These guys just don't become available. https://t.co/u5gjK2VvOK pic.twitter.com/lXhHhK66Ny
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 21, 2022
Defining Offensive Excellence
For reference, MLB defines wRC+ as a stat that “quantifies run creation and normalizes it, so we can compare players who play in different ballparks and even different eras.”
In other words, it examines offensive performance and adjusts that number to account for external factors — like ballpark or era.
It’s adjusted, so 100 is league average and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
That chart tells us that Soto has been 55 percent better than the league average, which is amazing.
That’s why he is so valuable: he can take a mediocre team and turn it into an instant contender; and he can join a team with clear World Series aspirations and make him almost invincible.