Two key reasons a Juan Soto swap could likely include Nationals southpaw Patrick Corbin

The Washington Nationals have begun to engage in trade talks involving winger Juan Soto, CBS Sports reported. The Nationals’ newfound willingness to accept proposals for Soto before the August 2 trade deadline is accelerated by its rejection of a $ 440 million 15-year extension offer. When Soto is transferred, both on deadline and during the off-season, rival front offices who have spoken to CBS Sports are expecting left-handed veteran Patrick Corbin to be included in the deal.

The incorporation of Corbin into a Soto operation would serve two main purposes: 1) by balancing the equation of value and 2) by writing off more money from the books before the potential sale of the Nationals. Let’s break down what they mean by using handy subtitles.

1. Balance the equation of value

The reality of trading with Soto is that getting what seems like (or about) equal value to him in the form of other players is next to impossible. He is a 23-year-old winger on a Hall of Fame track who will be under the team’s control for three more playoff series. Even if a contender doesn’t extend him into his free agent years, or beyond the 2024 season, he’ll be hiring one of the best players in the game with lower wages than the market. That should return a lot of money in return, but teams these days have a moderate view of what they’re willing to concede in swaps, even for young superstars.

“We assign dollar values ​​to everyone now,” a talent assessor in a rival front office told CBS Sports. “You can project the value in which Soto will produce [2022-2024] and get it in one or two high-end players with over five years of control. “

Tacking Corbin on Soto is a way for the Nationals to get a better deal, but not in the conventional sense “the other team will then add more to their side”. Rather, Corbin has been a pitcher well below the replacement level in his last 50 starts, amassing an ERA of 5.84 (68 ERA +) and a strikeout-walk ratio of 2.46. He also owed another $ 60 million over the next two seasons. Eliminating that commitment would be a win and would also help the scales when viewed from the aforementioned cold, calculating dollar-based picture.

Punting Corbin would also free innings for young people or interesting reclamation projects, a minor consideration (if valid) for the Nationals, who remain years away from being competitive based on their roster and the consensus of their agricultural system.

It is fair to question the wisdom of attaching Corbin’s contract to Soto, but keep in mind that it has become common practice. The Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Guardians both attacked pitchers owed decent coins (David Price, Carlos Carrasco) when they traded Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor. These situations are not exact parallels, but are as close to recent precedents as will be found here.

Of course, there is another reason why the Nationals would be motivated to relocate Corbin.

2. Erase money from the books

From a normal person’s point of view, having Soto on the roster makes the Nationals a more attractive club. The goal is to win games and field a fun product, and he helps in both ways. Sports owners are not ordinary people and they certainly don’t see these franchises through the same goals.

The next potential owner of the Nationals, whoever it may be, would probably consider a long-term extension for Soto a negative. The values ​​of the franchise are such nowadays that an owner has to be wickedly rich (a la Steve Cohen) or he has to be rich and use up to their eyes to cut the check. For the latter, paying a single player nearly $ 500 million over the next 15 years is an undesirable burden to shoulder.

That’s why teams tend to cut costs before a looming sale, which is why the Nationals have greater incentives – not just to refuse to raise their offer to Soto in a kingdom where they would have accepted it, but to dump. as many future commitments as possible.

To be honest, the Nationals don’t have many. Corbin is one of two Nationals with guaranteed salaries next season: the other is Stephen Strasburg, who has more than $ 140 million remaining and who has started eight times in the pandemic era. Executives from other teams have expressed doubts that anyone would accept the Strasbourg deal and noted that he has the right to veto any trade using his 10-5 rights, i.e. 10 years of big league service with the last five coming with his current club.

Moving Corbin as part of a Soto exchange, therefore, is the best opportunity to erase the books as realistically as possible. It shouldn’t be the main consideration, not given the franchise-altering stakes of trading a player like Soto, but it does matter at some level.

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