MLB Rumors: Yankees interested in Juan Soto trade; Angels get calls on Shohei Ohtani

The August 2 MLB trade deadline is just 10 days away, which means teams are trying to figure out whether to buy, sell or hold as that date approaches. As a result, it’s also gossip season in MLB, and we’re here to sum up what’s out there. Now for Saturday’s buzz.

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The Deadline story will be Nationals superstar outfielder Juan Soto, if he’s traded and if he’s where he ends up. To recap, the 23-year-old reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million extension offer from Washington, meaning 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 will come together before the approaching deadline.

Simply put, Soto is a generational hitter and he’s still exceptionally young. Soto has a .250/.403/.494 (160 OPS+) with 20 home runs and far more walks (79) than strikeouts (54) this season. He’s a career .292/.427/.540 (160 OPS+) hitter, which puts him among the best of all time at his age.

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

Soto would be a good fit for any team, and he would be an especially good fit for the Yankees, who have struggled to get adequate production from corner fielder Joey Gallo. Needless to say, the Yankees, a colossally resourced team, can afford to accept any bad contract the Nationals insist on moving (Patrick Corbin’s, to be exact) and offer Soto a contract extension that exceeds what the Nats would have offered. They also have the high ceiling prospects to do something about. Whether the Yankees choose to make such commitments remains an open question, but the value of a Soto trade — at least on a theoretical level — is there.

Other teams interested in Soto include the Dodgers, Cardinals, Padres, Mets and others.

The Yanks are also eyeing Benintendi

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The Royals plan to move Andrew Benintendi before the deadline, and since the Yankees need help on the field, he’s in good shape. As Mark Feinsand reports, he is a serious consideration in the Bronx:

Benintendi, 28, is batting .319/.389/.402 with three homers. It’s good production, especially in what has been a bad year for the offense, but he’s shown very little raw power. Whether Benintendi will be a notable upgrade for the Yankees hinges on his ability to keep hitting well north of .300. Even given his swing changes, it’s a risky bet since batting average is very prone to luck-driven results.

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

Ohtani is interested in the commercial market; angels are not ready

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Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani, the reigning American League MVP, offers excellent value on the mound and at home plate. He also only takes up one spot on the roster and is paid a pittance compared to his value on the field. This has led to speculation that the chronically underwhelming Angels will look to trade him to a more relevant team. Ohtani would obviously be a huge lifter for any baseball roster, and therefore, just about any team would love to add him to the fold. As Jon Morosi reports, however, the angels don’t seem ready to take such a drastic step:

For years the Angels have been unable to contend despite Mike Trout being on the roster, and in recent years it’s been the same with Ohtani and Trout. The 2022 season was no exception, and Ohtani in particular 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, this extra season of control adds to Ohtani’s already immense commercial value. On the other hand, the Angels are no doubt tempted to keep him in hopes of finally getting a fight next season. If the above report is any guide, the Angels are inclined towards the status quo, at least until the offseason.

Of course, it’s also worth acknowledging the obvious: it’s all a negotiation, and it could be posturing from the angels.

Meals add a catch aid

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The Mets made a minor move on Saturday by acquiring backup catcher Michael Perez from the Pirates in exchange for cash. Perez, who was recently designated for an assignment, is a career .175/.244/.305 hitter through five MLB seasons for the Rays and Pirates. It’s just one deep game for the Mets, who are once again with lead receiver James McCann (slant). Perez turns 30 in August.

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

Neal T. Doss