The baseball world was moved to its core over the weekend when Juan Soto turned down a contract extension from the Washington Nationals. The 15-year, $440 million offer was a sticker shock for everyone but the 23-year-old outfielder, and now teams will be lining up with their best trade offers to pry him away from DC.
Every team in baseball should at least make the call to see if they can get Soto, but the price won’t be low. The Minnesota Twins are unlikely to swing a deal, but as The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase once said, “Everybody’s got a price.” So what could the Twins draw up?
The first thing it’s going to take is prospects. Lots of high-end prospects.
The Twins are at a disadvantage here because of their farm system. MLB Pipeline had Minnesota ranked as the 19th farm system in Major League Baseball before this season, and it may drop after several players have either gotten hurt or hit a wall in their development.
Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson were considered top 100 prospects at this time last year, but neither has taken a major leap at Double-A Wichita. Top prospect Jordan Balazovic has struggled at Triple-A St. Paul. Many of the other prospects aren’t eye-popping names.
Then there are the injuries. Royce Lewis is the Twins’ top prospect but tore his ACL for the second time in the past 15 months. Emmanuel Rodriguez also looked like a future big leaguer but will miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. Matt Canterino is dealing with elbow problems. That leaves the cupboard pretty bare.
However, that doesn’t mean the Twins don’t have young players to offer. Perhaps some major league talent could entice the Nationals to pull the trigger.
If the Twins were to get Soto, that would eliminate the need to keep either Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach. Jose Miranda could also become expendable because his position in the field is still unknown. Throw in some young arms like Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran, and you might make the Nationals think a bit.
Still, there’s not much superstar potential in the farm system. With so many of the prospects unknown and the necessity of having something left to build around Soto, the Twins might have to think outside the box to get a deal done.
That might mean parting ways with Carlos Correa.
Nobody wants to see the Correa experiment end in a trade, but it might be the best way to maximize his value. It’s still a long shot that he either exercises his $35.1 million option for next season or signs a long-term extension. Plus, the Twins still have Lewis waiting in the wings for next season.
In the same way that the Twins dumped Josh Donaldson‘s contract, the Twins could send Correa to the Nationals and shift the money over for a long-term extension for Soto. But there are several problems with this idea.
First, there’s no guarantee that Correa would sign a long-term extension with Washington. With a roster ready for a rebuild, a lackluster State Fair, and no Juicy Lucy’s within a 1,100-mile radius, Correa is just as likely to opt out and attempt to get his long-term deal after this season. With the Nationals nowhere near contention, it’s a deal that doesn’t make sense.
But what if the Twins could send a player already on an affordable long-term deal? What if the Twins traded Byron Buxton?
You may be screaming at me to pump the brakes, and he does have a no-trade clause in his contract. But if he didn’t have one, it makes more sense than you think. Buxton is under contract through the 2028 season at $15 million per year. Even if he hits the escalators in his contract for MVP and All-Star bonuses, it’s still a game-changing player at a cheaper cost than Soto.
Trading Buxton would be an extremely unpopular move for Twins fans, but it could serve the team better in the long run. For as important as Buxton is to the Twins lineup, Soto’s bat is even better, and his durability is also beneficial moving forward.
But as we mentioned, Buxton’s no-trade clause makes this a pipe dream. Therefore, the Twins would have to look somewhere else — such as their other All-Star.
Luis Arraez would be more enticing for the Nationals as a 25-year-old currently leading the American League in batting average. His versatility in the field would be another bonus, and he isn’t a free agent until after the 2026 season.
So let’s say the Twins called the Nationals and offered Lewis, Arraez, Kirilloff, Miranda, Spencer Steer, and Rodriguez for Soto. According to Baseball Trade Values’ trade simulator, the Twins would be 45 points short of equaling Soto’s value. Even worse? They would still need to throw in pitching. Adding Joe Ryan gets us in the ballpark, but it also throws the trade machine into tilt.
For conversation’s sake, let’s say the Nationals’ front office has one too many Mountain Dews and accepts this trade. The Twins organization is wiped out, but they are in the middle of a championship window. Perhaps Correa looks at the future baseball god the Twins just acquired and signs for a massive extension. They still have Jorge Polanco at second base, and an outfield of Buxton, Sano, and Max Kepler is a fine trio with Larnach waiting in the wings.
The Twins would have to fill other spots, such as first base and the back end of the rotation, but a core of Soto, Buxton, Correa, and Polanco would make them instant contenders. Would a veteran chasing a ring come to Minnesota? We can’t rule it out. Plus, the Twins would have three-to-five years to rebuild their farm system to open a new window in the prime of Soto’s career. It’s a stretch, but it makes sense.
But what about the contract?
Let’s talk about the money. The Nationals’ contract offer was a thing of beauty. Everyone will raise their eyebrows over the total cost of the offer. But they were ultimately actually lowballing Soto. At $29.3 million per season, Soto’s contract is actually less than some lesser players are making. It is way below what Aaron Judge is projected to get in his next contract.
The Nationals knew they were never going to meet Soto’s contract demands, so they made an offer that made them look like the good guys. This way, they can move on with minimal backlash.
The Twins have already shown that they can handle such a contract. Even if they offered Soto the same $35.1 million Correa received last year, it would still be a better offer than what he got from the Nationals. If Buxton’s money also came off the books, they would still have money left over to acquire new talent and lock up some of their young pieces.
This is a deal that will probably never happen. But if the Twins are thinking outside the box, it makes more sense than you think.