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October 28, 2023

MLB trade rumors: Should Phillies get in on Juan Soto sweepstakes?

The Phillies might need to get creative in how they can improve their roster for 2024.

The Phillies are clearly on the verge of being World Series contenders every single year based on their high priced roster — a roster set to be the most expensive in baseball next season.

They came two wins away in 2022, and five wins away in 2023. They are close, and the front office is under a lot of pressure to close that gap to bring home a trophy.

But with so many players under contract for 2024 and beyond, the opportunities for short term improvement and upgrading are limited. 

Take the outfield. With Bryce Harper potentially returning to right field next season, the Phillies will need to figure out who will play alongside him — Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas — only one of whom can play the DH spot.

We've taken a look at some free agent upgrades that should be out there that make sense for the team, both at the plate and on the mound. But what about on the trade market?

One name comes to mind ahead of the others: Padres star outfielder Juan Soto.

The Padres, according to sources, are looking to cut some payroll before next season. The Cubs andYankees have already emerged as suitors for Soto, who is in his final year of arbitration and could make as much as $33 million this coming season before hitting free agency in 2025. 

A Soto trade would be tricky for the Phillies. For one, they'll need to ship out prospects and not MLB players, due to San Diego's desire to save cash. Which means no Castellanos-plus prospects deal can work here. 

The Phillies would also no doubt be unwilling to make this sort of trade without assurances that Soto would ink a longterm deal. 

Soto is 25, but already a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove outfielder. He checks a few important boxes for the Phillies with his bat. He has excellent plate discipline, leading the NL with 132 walks last year. He also hits for average, something that was lacking in Philly last year for the most part. He is the active MLB leader in on base percentage at .421 and has a career .284 batting average. 

Seeing all the swings and misses at the end of the NLCS this past week makes it clear that a different style of hitter would be welcome in this Phillies lineup.

Figuring out where to fit him on the roster is the tough part. But the need for a superstar like the former National from the Dominican Republic is obvious. And if the Cubs and Yankees are pursuing him, it would be silly for Philadelphia not to follow suit.

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