Dodgers Dugout: Here’s why the Dodgers won’t get Juan Soto

Juan Soto
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and what will the Dodgers do at the trade deadline?

The trade deadline is Tuesday, and unless you’ve been off the planet the last week, most of the speculation centers on where Juan Soto of the Nationals will end up. Oddsmakers on Tuesday made the San Diego Padres the favorites to get him, followed by the Dodgers, Cardinals and Mets. Soto reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440-million extension offer by Washington, which later announced it would listen to trade offers for him. Of course, Soto remains under team control for a couple more seasons, so the Nationals don’t have to trade him this year, but the general consensus is they will.

Before we talk about the Dodgers acquiring Soto, let’s look at what makes him such a big deal.

Soto came up as a 19-year-old in 2018 and hit .292/.406/.517 with 25 doubles and 22 homers in 116 games, finishing second in rookie-of-the-year voting to Ronald Acuna Jr. of Atlanta (Walker Buehler finished third).

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Since then:

2019: .282/.401/.548, 142 OPS+, 34 homers, 110 RBIs, ninth in MVP voting, hit three home runs in the World Series, which Washington won.
2020: .351/.490/.695, 217 OPS+, led the league in batting, on-base percentage and slugging. 13 homers in 47 games (60-game season), fifth in MVP voting
2021: .313/.465/.534, 177 OPS+, led league in OBP and walks (145). Had 29 homers, 95 RBIs. Finished second in MVP voting
2022: .248/.404/.491, 158 OPS+. Leads league in walks (83). On pace for 33 homers, 74 RBIs.
Career: .292/.427/.540, 159 OPS+

Since the start of the 2018 season, here are the players with the best OPS+ (minimum 1,500 plate appearances):

1. Mike Trout, 184
2. Juan Soto, 159
3. Aaron Judge, 154
4. Bryce Harper, 149
5. Mookie Betts, 147
6. Freddie Freeman, 144
7. Paul Goldschmidt, 143
8. José Ramírez, 141
9. Christian Yelich, 140
10. Alex Bregman, 140
11. Pete Alonso, 140

Others of note:

14. Shohei Ohtani, 137
26. Justin Turner, 128
27. Max Muncy, 128
30. Corey Seager, 127
35. Trea Turner 126

As usual, Mike Trout is on a different level than everyone else, but Soto is second. And if the Dodgers get him, they would have three of the top six offensive players over the last five seasons.

Any team would love to have Soto. But is he worth the price? The Nationals, according to reports, are asking for four or five top young prospects. That means the Dodgers would have to give up at least a couple of the following: Diego Cartaya, Dustin May, Bobby Miller, Andy Pages, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch or Ryan Pepiot. Really, they would probably have to give up three of their top 10 prospects and a couple of others.


Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on a Washington radio station Tuesday that, despite rampant speculation, the Nationals won’t demand a team take on the contract of struggling pitcher Patrick Corbin in a deal for Soto.

“We’ve never contacted teams and talked about Juan Soto and attaching any contract to any player,” Rizzo said. “We’re not going to dilute a return for any player by adding a bad contract. That’s not where we’re at in our organization at this time. We want to get the most for each and every trade that we do, so we certainly are not going to tack on anybody’s contract to anybody’s deal, including Juan Soto’s or Josh Bell’s or anybody.”

So, are the Dodgers willing to raid their farm system to get Soto, who would not be eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season? They could put him in right field and move Betts to center, benching Cody Bellinger. They could put him in left and have an outfield of Soto, Bellinger and Betts.

The question is, does Soto fill a need for the Dodgers, or is he so good, it doesn’t matter if he fills a need or not, you just get him anyway? The Dodgers already have a great offense, though this would make it even better. It likely would mean fewer at bats for Bellinger and Max Muncy. It would mean fewer at-bats for Trayce Thompson and Jake Lamb, who have been unlikely contributors.

The guess is the Dodgers do not get Soto. The asking price will just be too high. However, the one thing we have learned in the Andrew Friedman era is that you never can safely predict what he will do.

Here’s the question for you though. Should the Dodgers acquire Soto, even if it means trading away three to five top prospects? Click here to vote.

Who else is available?

So, if the Dodgers don’t get Soto, who is out there? Here are some of the top names (some of whom could have been traded by the time you read this):


Willson Contreras, C, Cubs: The Dodgers really don’t need a catcher, but with the NL now having a DH, nothing is impossible.

Brandon Drury, INF/OF, Reds: Cincinnati’s best hitter this season, he is batting .268/.329/.512 with 19 homers while playing first, second, third, short and right.

J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox: He is hitting .295/.363/.471 and is in the final season of his contract.

Starting pitchers

Frankie Montas, RHP, Athletics: Once upon a time he was a Dodgers prospect who was traded to Oakland for Rich Hill. Now he’s a solid starter who received Cy Young votes last season and strikes out more than a batter an inning.

Luis Castillo, RHP, Reds: Probably the best starting pitcher available, Castillo has a 2.86 ERA and has given up only 63 hits in 85 innings, with 90 strikeouts.

Tyler Mahle, RHP, Reds: He has struck out 107 in 98 innings, but also has a 4.48 ERA.


Andrew Chafin, LHP, Tigers: The best left-handed reliever on the market, he is as good against right-handers as left-handers. Since last year, he has given up only 69 hits in 100.1 innings, striking out 103.

Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers: Has a 2.96 ERA since the start of last season, with 16 saves and 109 strikeouts in 107 innings.

David Robertson, RHP, Cubs: He has bounced back from all his injuries and has a 1.83 ERA with 14 saves, striking out 50 in 39 innings. The drawback is his 19 walks. He also has postseason experience, with a 3.11 ERA in 39 games.

Those are just a handful of the many players available. For a more comprehensive list, check MLB Trade Rumors’ list of the top 50 players available.

Muncy continues to struggle

Max Muncy went one for five in the Dodgers’ opening-day victory over the Colorado Rockies on April 8. That left him with a .200 batting average and that’s the highest it’s been. At the end of April he was hitting .136.

On July 5, he went two for two with a double and a homer and lifted his average to .171, his high point since opening day.

Since then, he has gone five for 49 with 22 strikeouts, hitting .102/.233/.204 in that span.

Loyalty is a great thing. But it’s time for Muncy to sit. He looks completely lost at the plate. You feel for him as you watch him swing at bad pitches and let good pitches go right down the middle. Give him a mental break. It’s time.

Muncy has 321 plate appearances and is hitting .158. Here’s a list of the worst Dodgers batting averages in a season with a minimum of 300 plate appearances:

Bill Bergen, 1909, .139
Max Muncy, 2022, .158
Bill Bergen, 1906, .159
Cody Bellinger, 2021, .165
Bill Bergen, 1908, .175
Mickey Doolin, 1918, .179
Tony Smith, 1910, .181
Bill Bergen, 1904, .182
John Shelby, 1989, .183
Mike McCormack, 1904, .184

Bill Bergen was a catcher with the Reds (three seasons) and Dodgers (eight seasons) from 1901-11. He is the worst offensive player who had any sort of career in major league history, finishing with these numbers: .170/.194/.201 with 67 extra-base hits in a little more than 3,000 at bats. There is no other player in history with at least 2,500 at bats who hit less than .210.

So why did he play? He was considered the best defensive catcher of his era. According to this great SABR bio of him, “And while only seven catchers in the Hall of Fame (through the 2021 season) ever amassed as many as 100 assists in a single season, Bergen accomplished that feat in nine of his 11 major-league campaigns, failing only in 1903 and 1907, the two seasons he caught fewer than 60 games.” You couldn’t run on the guy.

If we limit the list to only L.A. Dodgers:

Max Muncy, 2022, .158
Cody Bellinger, 2021, .165
John Shelby, 1989, .183
A.J. Ellis, 2014, .191
Mike Davis, 1988, .196
Zoilo Versalles, 1968, .196
Alfredo Griffin, 1988, .199
Steve Yeager, 1983, .203
Cody Bellinger, 2022, .205
Todd Hundley, 1999, .207

Two things stand out here: This year’s team has two players on the list. So do the 1988 Dodgers (of course, by the time the postseason came around, Davis wasn’t playing much). Maybe that’s a good omen. Griffin was the shortstop in 1988 and was backed up by Dave Anderson, who hit .249.


The Dodgers are 4-8 against the Pirates and Nationals, two of the worst teams in the NL. They are 61-24 against everyone else.

Up next

Thursday: Dodgers (*Tyler Anderson, 10-1, 2.79 ERA) at Colorado (Jose Ureña, 1-2, 3.13 ERA), 5:30 p.m. PDT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Friday: Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 9-6, 2.72 ERA) at Colorado (Chad Kuhl, 6-5, 4.48 ERA), 5:30 p.m. PDT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday: Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 7-2, 2.49 ERA) at Colorado (*Kyle Freeland, 5-7, 4.64 ERA), 5 p.m. PDT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday: Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 11-1, 2.26 ERA) at Colorado (German Márquez, 6-8, 5.25 ERA), noon PDT, SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020


Stories you might have missed

Dodgers should trade for Juan Soto and avoid mistake Angels made with Mike Trout

Baseball players union rejects MLB’s proposal for an international draft

How much would a team give up for Juan Soto? Probably more than you think

And finally

Members of the 1969 Mets react to Gil Hodges being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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