MLB rumors: Yankees interested in Juan Soto trade; Angels getting calls on Shohei Ohtani

The Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline is a mere 10 days away, which means teams are trying to sort out whether they’re buying, selling, or holding as that date approaches. Accordingly, this is also Rumor Season in MLB, and we’re here to round up what’s out there. Now let’s jump into Saturday’s buzz. 

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The story of the deadline will be Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto, whether he’s traded, and if he is where he winds up. To recap, the 23-year-old is reported to have turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from Washington, which means the Nats are now looking to trade him. It’s possible they’ll wait until the offseason to do so, but it’s also possible that something comes together in advance of the approaching deadline. 

Simply put, Soto is a generational hitter, and he’s still exceptionally young. Soto this season owns a .250/.403/.494 batting line (160 OPS+) with 20 homers and many more walks (79) than strikeouts (54) this season. He’s a career .292/.427/.540 hitter (160 OPS+), which puts him among the greatest ever at his age. 

Needless to say, Soto is coveted by any number of teams, and now you can count the AL East-leading New York Yankees among them: 

Soto would be a fit for any team, and he’d be a particularly good fit for the Yankees, who have struggled to get adequate production out of corner outfielder Joey Gallo. It goes without saying that the Yankees, a team with colossal resources, can afford to take on any bad contracts that the Nationals insist on moving (Patrick Corbin’s, to be exact) and offer Soto a contract extension that exceeds what the Nats reportedly offered. They also have the high-ceiling prospects to get something done. Whether the Yankees will choose to make such commitments remains an open question, but the interest in a Soto trade — at least on a theoretical level — is there. 

Other teams reported to have interest in Soto include the Dodgers, Cardinals, Padres, Mets and others. 

Yanks also eyeing Benintendi

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The Royals figure to move Andrew Benintendi prior to the deadline, and since the Yankees are in need of outfield help he’s a fit. As Mark Feinsand reports, he’s a serious consideration in the Bronx: 

Benintendi, 28, is batting .319/.389/.402 with three home runs. That’s good production, especially in what’s been a down year for offense, but he’s shown very little raw power. The assumption that Benintendi will be a notable upgrade moving forward for the Yankees depends upon his ability to continue hitting well north of .300. Even given his swing changes, that’s a risky bet since batting average is highly prone to luck-driven outcomes. 

Benintendi is eligible for free agency this coming offseason, so absent an extension he’d be a “rental” acquisition. 

Ohtani drawing interest on trade market; Angels not ready

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Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani, the reining MVP in the American League, provides excellent value on the mound and at the plate. He also takes up but a single roster spot and is paid a pittance relative to his on-field value. That’s led to speculation that the chronically disappointing Angels will seek to trade him to a team that’s more relevant. Ohtani would obviously be a huge lift to any roster in baseball, and accordingly pretty much any team would love to add him to the fold. As Jon Morosi reports, however, the Angels don’t appear ready to take such a drastic step: 

For years, the Angels have been unable to contend despite the presence of Mike Trout on the roster, and in more recent years it’s been the same with both Ohtani and Trout. The 2022 season has been no exception, and Ohtani in particular has indicated that playing for a winning team is a personal priority. Ohtani, however, isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, so he has little control over that. On the one hand, that extra season of control adds to Ohtani’s already immense trade value. On the other hand, the Angels are no doubt tempted to keep him around in the hopes that they finally can achieve contention next season. If the above report is any guide, the Angels are inclined toward the status quo, at least until the offseason. 

Of course, it’s also worth acknowledging the obvious: Everything’s a negotiation, and this could be posturing on the part of the Angels. 

Mets add catching help 

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The Mets made a minor move Saturday as they acquired backup catcher Michael Perez from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations. Perez, who was recently designated for assignment, is a career .175/.244/.305 hitter across parts of five MLB seasons for the Rays and Pirates. This is merely a depth play for the Mets, who are once again with primary catcher James McCann (oblique). Perez turns 30 in August. 

To make room on the 40-man roster for Perez, the Mets have designated Travis Blankenhorn for assignment.