San Diego Padres: Juan Soto, OF
The San Diego Padres could be in fiduciary trouble after news broke that the team took out a $50 million loan to help cover payroll. If the Padres are struggling to cover their players’ salaries, they could look to dump some of their pricier assets, including young superstar outfielder Juan Soto, whom the Padres have under control for one more season.
Soto hit a career-high 35 home runs in his first year with the Padres despite a rather pedestrian (by his standards) .275 batting average. He still has possibly the best batting eye in baseball, taking 132 walks, and at only 25 years old, Soto should have many years of Hall of Fame-level production left in him.
If the Padres shed some salaries, they would likely force a team to take on another player's contract as well, but the reward of Soto should be worth it. If the Cardinals were to enter the fray for Soto, they might not have to surrender as much as some fans think because Soto’s value is lower than it was when he was traded to the Padres.
The Cardinals would likely deal several players in the major leagues and from the farm system if they were to acquire Soto. The competition would be fierce, as he is a generational talent whom every team would want to build around.
San Francisco Giants: Kyle Harrison, LHP
The San Francisco Giants possess one of the best pitching prospects in the game in Kyle Harrison, who held his own in seven major league starts last season, with a 4.15 ERA and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He also managed to get his walks under control after they were an issue in the minor leagues.
Harrison, MLB.com's No. 20 prospect in all of baseball, had a scintillating strikeout rate throughout the minors at over 14 per nine innings, and all the tools are there for him to be a star in the major leagues. The Cardinals' responsibility if they were to swing a trade for him would be to utilize the new pitching approach that the front office promised in 2023, which emphasizes missing bats above all else.
Harrison is the crown jewel of the Giants organization, but the team is searching for infield help. An article from June broke down one potential trade, sending Harrison and Carson Whisenhunt to the Cardinals for Paul Goldschmidt. If the Giants decide they need bats badly enough, they might be tempted to offer Harrison in a trade for a big bopper.