Late May is about the time that some teams realize they are nowhere close to contending for a championship. The Washington Nationals certainly fall into that bucket at the moment. Prior to first pitch of the final game of their three-game set against the Dodgers on Wednesday, Washington is 14.5 games back in the NL East.
Which is why ESPN's Buster Olney weekly column last week started with a big question about one of the biggest names in the sport - "Will the Washington Nationals trade Juan Soto?".
Olney says there's plenty of chatter from other clubs that Soto might be available this summer.
"At 23 years old, Soto is already a superstar, and there aren't any comparable examples of hitters of his stature being dealt at such a young age. But rival execs say the Nationals might well be compelled -- and motivated -- to move Soto this summer."
One anonymous source put it pretty succinctly:
"If they're not going to sign him [to a long-term deal], then they'll need to trade him. The question is: When?"
Olney noted how Washington has unsuccessfully attempted to sign Soto to a mammoth extension and pointed to general manager Mike Rizzo's "willingness to be an aggressive dealer in the past". This is after all the GM that shipped out Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers last year in exchange for a prospect package highlighted by catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Josiah Gray.
However, Soto's agent, the one and only Scott Boras, told the New York Post that a Soto trade this summer is "not happening".
It's important to note that Soto is a free agent following the 2024 season so if somehow the trade that's not happening happens, it's going to cost a team a fortune to acquire him and an even bigger fortune to re-sign him.
Many baseball insiders believe that Soto could be the first free agent to fetch a $400M contract.