Bruce Levine’s report on Friday that the Cubs are going to be very much in on the Juan Soto trade sweepstakes this winter got all kinds of folks hot and bothered. As is typical with these things, opinions seemed sharply divided between this being either a must-do or the worst idea in the history of baseball. Most of the folks in the latter camp meant well enough and some used solid rationale, but there were some mind-numbing takes out there.
With little else going on in Cubdom right now, I’m going to lean into my gluttony for punishment to address some of the things people are saying.
Cubs would have to extend Soto
While this is a valid point on the surface given the amount of talent the Cubs would have to give up in a deal, it’s absolutely not predicated on having an extension in place. A lot of folks out there seem to have confused MLB with the NBA, where sign-and-trades are the norm. It’s rare in baseball for a team to let potential trade partners negotiate with players prior to having an agreement in place, then you have to consider Soto’s representation.
Do you really think Scott Boras is looking to have his client ink a long-term deal with limited negotiating leverage rather than take him to free agency as a 26-year-old? I suppose it’s possible, but the likelihood is really low. The bigger point here is that Soto could be worth it even if he’s only around for a year. The Cubs need to win now, which means being willing to part with some prospects to make it happen.
Soto is a generational player who provides power with unmatched plate discipline from the left side, which is a must for any team even if it’s for a very limited time.
Soto isn’t worth the money
See the last sentence above and then make a list of better hitters in MLB since Soto debuted as a 19-year-old in 2018. If we avoid the silliness about how no one is really worth what athletes make, it’s pretty easy to see that Soto is well worth a monster contract. Any argument otherwise is being made in bad faith.
Christopher Morel will be just as good
Look, I like Morel a lot. Not as much as some of you out there, but I think he’s a really good complementary player who provides high-end power and is a joy to be around. That said, he’s not Soto and never will be. Beyond just talent, there seems to be this idea that Morel is a good deal younger than Soto. In fact, their age difference is just eight months.
I think the issue here is that a lot of folks are taking this the wrong way and thinking that the willingness to trade Morel for Soto is an indication that the Cubs and others don’t value Morel. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Almost no one is saying Morel is bad, he just isn’t on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
Soto isn’t a good hitter
This is too dumb to spend time on.
Cubs need to fill other gaps/have too many outfielders already
This is true on the surface, but trading for Soto doesn’t preclude them from adding pitchers and improving the roster elsewhere. As for all those outfielders, well, the National League has a DH and the Cubs can shuffle dudes around as needed. When you have the chance to add a superstar, you do it and figure the finer details out later.
That’s all I’ve got for today, but maybe I’ll add more as they come up.
Update: I didn’t address it above, but there’s something going around about Bruce Levine saying on 670 The Score that Morel might be enough on his own to land Soto if the Cubs take on the full salary hit. I was listening to Inside the Clubhouse Saturday morning and didn’t hear that part, though it’s possible I tuned out too early. I did hear a caller lament the fact that Soto was only 12-for-17 on stolen base attempts this past season, which was a weird knock.
The Padres aren’t moving Soto for Morel straight up under any circumstances, though it’s true that their return will be less if the acquiring team assumes the full weight of his pay. What’s really funny is that the same people who say the Cubs will never sign big players because Tom Ricketts won’t spend enough are those cautioning against trading away a few prospects for a generational talent.
If there are already too many outfielders to accommodate one future HOF player, how will there be room for three outfield prospects? The purpose of having a strong farm system isn’t just to supply homegrown talent to the big club, it’s also to trade for established players.
Update 2: Something I’ve been seeing a lot of since these rumors started is this idea that the Cubs must not know what they have in Morel if other teams are calling about him. Folks, that’s like saying I don’t know how badass my Red Cement Air Jordan 4s are when people ask me what size they are and whether I’d consider selling them. I think this misunderstanding is the flip side of the pervasive “This guy sucks, trade him” mentality.
The Cubs know exactly what they have in Morel and they likewise understand what they don’t have in terms of a position in the field and left-handed power in the lineup. It’s not like Jed Hoyer is putting the 24-year-old out on the curb with a “FREE” sign around his neck or something.