Quick Bit: The Sporting News takes a look at some potential offers teams could make to acquire superstar Juan Soto from the Nationals.

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Where will Juan Soto shuffle to?

The superstar Nationals outfielder may be in new threads come Aug. 3, if trade rumors come to trade reality. To that end, some franchises will be in for a shuffling of their own.

Reports say that the Nationals are looking for four or five young players, including some who are young with service time at the major-league level. (That, by the way, shouldn’t scare off any team from wanting to make a move.)

Prospects, prospects, prospects. Everybody looooves prospects. Yes, it’s true: Good teams with staying power are generally built on the foundation of good prospects and a strong farm system. But a friendly reminder: Prospects are suspects. Trades that end up as prospect heavy usually go in favor of the team acquiring the superstar.

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There are plenty of teams who are blowing up Nats GM Mike Rizzo’s phone, but only some who will be able to meet the asking price for the outfielder. Here’s how some of the packages could line up:

Juan Soto trade packages

Mets

Mets receive: OF Juan Soto

Nationals receive: C Francisco Alvarez (Triple-A), 3B Brett Baty (Double-A), Ronny Mauricio (Triple-A), P David Peterson, IF Dominic Smith

Why it makes sense for the Nationals: Washington would probably cringe at the idea of shipping Soto to a division rival, but the opportunity to do so while also stripping the Mets’ farm system of their top-tier up-and-coming talent would be a benefit.

Francisco Alvarez, MLB’s No. 1 overall prospect, slots in as a catcher at the next level but is heralded for his hitting ability more than anything else. He can hit to all fields and with some raw power, and he’s also sitting in Triple A, so he’d make an impact at the major-league level sooner rather than later.

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Also joining Alvarez are all-around bat, third baseman Baty (No. 19 overall) and raw shortstop Mauricio (No. 51). Both guys have some work to do to get to the next level, but there’s more than enough projectability there to make

The Nationals — and Dominic Smith — all get what they want: Smith gets an opportunity to start once again (assuming Josh Bell gets traded), while the Nats also get an instant, controllable asset in Smith. He’s arbitration eligible through 2024.

The Nationals also get David Peterson in this scenario: A young, controllable pitcher who’s having a very good season with the Mets.

Why it makes sense for the Mets: The Mets have been searching for a thumping outfield bat for quite some time (Sorry, Michael Conforto), and Soto fits the bill perfectly.

New York is in the best position to compete for a World Series in quite some time: Signing Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer et al. is pretty indicative of that. Soto, who broke the internet with an Instagram post with seeming desire to land with the Mets a year ago, gets an opportunity to live out a seeming wish.

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It’d hurt to lose those top three prospects, but Mets fans who feel bad about moving on from sure things need to look no further than Jarred Kelenic.

It also helps that owner Steve Cohen would probably be pretty open to an extension for Soto, so acquiring the outfielder wouldn’t just be a “wait-and-see” free agency approach.

Cardinals

Cardinals receive: OF Juan Soto

Nationals receive: LHP Matthew Liberatore (Triple-A), 3B Jordan Walker (Double-A), SS Mayn Winn (Double-A), OF Dylan Carlson

Why it makes sense for the Nationals: The Nationals are getting a 23-year-old outfielder with extra pieces for a 23-year-old outfielder. No Carlson is not Soto. But the switch-hitter has a career .753 OPS, hits for some power and speed who makes consistent contact and is an improving defender in the outfield.

At this point though, Walker might be the highlight of the package. The 20-year-old third baseman has sky-rocketed up prospect rankings as he’s demolished Double-A pitching in his first taste of the level, with a .868 OPS with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases. He has among the most raw power in the minors and walks at an impressive 11.3 percent. He might not be a consistent base-stealer in the majors, but he’s got enough mobility to accompany improving defense to allow him to stay at third.

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Accompanying Walker on the left side of the infield would be shortstop Masyn Winn, who has improved his stock with a solid season at Advanced Class-A. He might not be the best hitter, but he’s got plenty of speed and has the stronger arm of any shortstop prospect.

Then there’s the Matthew Liberatore, the team’s top pitching prospect and former 16th overall selection by the Rays. Liberatore doesn’t quite have ace potential, but he’s made his MLB debut this season and his impressive command and diverse repertoire give him a high floor.

Why it makes sense for the Cardinals: This is giving up a lot of future value for the Cardinals, but for the most part, the pieces leaving are from areas in which St. Louis can comfortably deal away.

Nolan Arenado is locked in at third base through the 2027 season, though he could opt out after 2022, and if Walker ever moved to first, St. Louis already has Paul Goldschmidt through 2024. Tommy Edman figures to remain at short until he becomes a free agent in 2026, and while the trade of a future starter like Liberatore hurts, St. Louis has several pitching prospects in the minors who could help the backend.

Then there’s Carlson. St. Louis has expected him to be a major contributor in the outfield for a long time alongside Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill. But Carlson is the best and youngest from that group, and the Nationals might not bite on taking Bader or O’Neill when they become free agents in 2024 and 2025, respectively, compared to Carlson in 2027. If St. Louis can keep two of its starting outfielders and replace Carlson with Soto, that’s certainly more than a worth-while tradeoff.

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The Cardinals are going to watch as icons like Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina will retire after the season. Adam Wainwright might, as well. Adding Soto to a lineup that already features Arenado and Goldschmidt gives St. Louis its best chance to send those players off with one more ring.

Padres

Padres receive: OF Juan Soto

Nationals receive: OF James Wood (Class-A), 2B Eguy Rosario (Triple-A), RHP Victor Lizarraga (Class-A), SS C.J. Abrams, LHP Mackenzie Gore

Why it makes sense for the Nationals: Before the season, the Padres had one of the best farm systems in baseball. It’s not that way anymore, but that is largely due to C.J. Abrams and Mackenzie Gore graduating and becoming members of the big-league club.

Abrams was considered an elite prospect, a future leadoff hitter at shortstop who makes consistent contact, has some raw power and is one of the fastest base-runners in baseball. The last time the Nationals traded for a contact-heavy, speedy shortstop from the Padres, they received Trea Turner. That’s the upside play with getting Abrams.

Gore has been inconsistent in recent years as the once-top-prospect faltered after some struggles in the minors. Through his first eight starts of the MLB season, Gore posted a 1.50 ERA with a 30 percent strikeout rate and 8.9 percent walk rate that re-affirmed his high ceiling. Recent struggles have relegated him to the bullpen, but when his stuff is working, he shows ace potential.

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The Padres would likely have a tough time dealing Robert Hassell III, but the Nationals will ask for a high-upside, young outfielder. In this case, it’s James Wood, who is walking 16.4 percent, striking out 18.3 percent and posting a 1.016 OPS with nine home runs and 14 stolen bases in his first taste of baseball above Rookie League.

The other two prospects are to help build up the depth of a shallow farm system. Eguy Rosario is an infielder that has posted an impressive 2022 (14 home runs, 16 stolen bases, .856 OPS in 90 Triple-A games) and is regarded as a high-floor, MLB contributor that could be a super-utility bat at second, short or third base. Victor Lizarraga has advanced command for an 18-year-old in Class-A, and there’s potentially more room for velocity in his 6-3, 180 frame than he’s already shown.

Why it makes sense for the Padres: San Diego’s farm system has already been depleted, but A.J. Preller has made it clear he’s going all-in trying to push the Padres to their first-ever World Series. That means he should be willing to give up the moon for Soto.

The idea that San Diego could have a lineup with Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Soto all locked up through at least 2023, when Machado is eligible to opt out of his deal, or 2024, when Soto becomes a free agent, is too good to pass up. It is especially tempting considering a corner outfield bat feels like the biggest missing piece for San Diego.

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Then there’s the extra-competitive bonus: It keeps Soto away from the Dodgers. Los Angeles is seemingly involved in every star player, and it has the pieces needed to acquire Soto. As big as acquiring Soto would be for San Diego, it might be nearly as big for them to just keep him away from star-heavy Los Angeles.

Dodgers

Dodgers receive: OF Juan Soto

Nationals receive: C Diego Cartaya (High-A), RHP Bobby Miller (Double-A), RHP Ryan Pepiot (Triple-A), INF Miguel Vargas (Triple-A)

Why it makes sense for the Nationals: Washington already juiced up its farm system once by acquiring Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray from the Dodgers for Turner and Max Scherzer. Now, it does it again by acquiring most of the rest of Los Angeles’ stockpile of talented prospects.

Yes, Washington already has Ruiz at catcher, but Diego Cartaya is a better defender and is one of the most advanced hitters in the minors. At the end of the day, the Nationals will find places to plug in all the bats it can, and Cartaya is the crown jewel of this farm system. Speaking of bats, Miguel Vargas is walking nearly as much as striking out at Triple-A, while posting a .883 OPS with 14 home runs. He could play at first, second or third, which would give Washington options when Kieboom returns next year.

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Bobby Miller and Ryan Pepiot are close to the majors, and each offer tantalizing upside as hard-throwing under-25 arms. Miller is probably a more likely bet to stick in the rotation, which is why he would be more imperative to stay in the deal than Pepiot, but if one — or both — hit, the Nationals could have a fierce rotation of former Dodger flame-throwers in Gray, Miller and Pepiot.

Why it makes sense for the Dodgers: Prospects seem to grow on trees in Los Angeles, and no matter how many trades the Dodgers make for star talent, they always seem to find more prospects to acquire more stars later.

The Dodgers are always in win-now mode, and with their pitching rotation set up for the future with arms like Tony Gonsolin, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, there’s less of a need to count on pitchers to develop. Will Smith is already one of the best catchers in baseball, and Diego Cartaya still needs more time. And with Cody Bellinger’s struggles over the past few seasons, the Dodgers could benefit from adding a left-handed outfielder with a star bat back into its lineup, and put Bellinger in a permanent platoon with Chris Taylor.

For all the moves Los Angeles has made in recent years, it still only has one World Series win in three trips to the Fall Classic. Adding Soto to a lineup with Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, Turner and Smith would make this one of the best lineups baseball has ever seen, and give the Dodgers no real flaws on its team.

Yankees

Yankees receive: OF Juan Soto

Nationals receive: SS Anthony Volpe (Double-A), SS Oswald Peraza (Double-A), OF Jasson Dominguez (Single-A), IF Gleyber Torres

Why it makes sense for the Nationals: The Nationals would be getting a package that would instantly spring their farm system with talent that’s ready to make an impact at the major-league level as soon as 2023: Anthony Volpe (No. 7) and Oswald Peraza (No. 37) are two of MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects and both are at Double A.

Dominguez would be the key here: The 19-year-old has gotten comps to some of the game’s best, and would eventually slot in as an heir apparent to Soto in the outfield.

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Torres is something that the Nationals are looking for: A young, controllable (arbitration eligible through 2024), impactful major leaguer.

Why it makes sense for the Yankees: The Yankees already have questions over Aaron Judge’s long-term future with the team past 2022. Adding Soto with two years of team control left, an outfielder and a lefty bat, to the lineup would be a win all around.

Losing Torres would hurt, but in this scenario, D.J. LeMahieu would take over as the team’s everyday second baseman, while Matt Carpenter would shift to the super utility bat, at least through the end of 2022.

When you’re the Yankees and you’re a win-now team, tough decisions surrounding the future have to be made this time of year. Losing Dominguez and the others would hurt, but the odds of Dominguez — or any of those guys — becoming as good as or better than Soto is far from a guarantee.

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The Andrew Benintendi deal suddenly makes the Yankees outfield very bloated and likely takes New York out of the running for Soto. Even though he’s good, he also shouldn’t get in the way of acquiring a top talent like Soto. Benintendi is a free agent following the season, and between the three outfield spots and the DH, there’s more than enough room to find everyone at-bats.

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