Why Nationals dealing Juan Soto would be rare MLB trade

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Why Nationals dealing Juan Soto would be rare MLB trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

We could see a very rare MLB trade within the next week.

The Washington Nationals are entertaining offers for Juan Soto ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline. The superstar outfielder is on the block after turning down what would have been the sport's largest contract ever at 15 years and $440 million.

Should the Nats pull the trigger on a deal in the coming days, it would be one of the more rare trades in MLB history.

Not only is Soto an elite player, but he's a very young one as well. The two-time All-Star, who is under club control for two more seasons, turns just 24 years old in October.

The last player to make multiple All-Star Games and change teams all before their 26th birthday was Miguel Cabrera in 2007. The Marlins shipped a 24-year-old four-time All-Star in Cabrera, along with Dontrelle Willis, to the Tigers in exchange for Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo. Suffice to say, the trade turned out to be a massive steal for Detroit.

Cabrera, the most recent member of the 3,000-hit club, is a lock to make the Baseball Hall of Fame and it's not crazy to expect Soto to join him in Cooperstown one day. Soto's career OPS of .964 would place him 16th on the all-time list (Soto hasn't reached the minimum number of games played to actually qualify for the list yet).

The 15 players with a better career OPS than Soto on the all-time list consist of 11 Hall of Famers, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez and Mike Trout. Of those 14 players, only one changed teams at age 25 or younger: Babe Ruth. The Boston Red Sox infamously sold the Bambino at age 24 to the rival New York Yankees for $100,000 in 1919. Just like the Cabrera trade, the Ruth deal proved to be massively lopsided.

Sticking with all-time greats, a total of 180 Hall of Famers appeared in an MLB game at age 23 or younger, as Soto did. Among that group, 28 wound up being traded before their 24th birthday. Roberto Alomar was the most recent one, going from the San Diego Padres to the Toronto Blue Jays as a 22-year-old in 1990.

Finally, in terms of wins above replacement, a Soto trade would be historic. The 2022 Home Run Derby champion has amassed a career WAR in the low 20s as he plays out his fifth professional season. But there has never been a trade in MLB history involving a player age 23 or younger with a career WAR of at least 20.

Taking all of this into account, the Nats should be asking for the moon in return for Soto. And it sounds like they are.