3 teams that will come to regret not trading for Juan Soto

The New York Yankees landed Juan Soto in a landmark trade. Here's who will regret not topping the Yanks' offer.

Juan Soto, San Diego Padres
Juan Soto, San Diego Padres / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Juan Soto could have made Cubs' first offseason under Craig Counsell

The Chicago Cubs made the offseason's first major splash when Jed Hoyer convinced Craig Counsell to cross state lines and join the Milwaukee Brewers' foremost rival. Counsell alone has raised expectations for Chicago in 2024. He's one of the great bullpen whisperers in the MLB, known for synthesizing data and playing matchups as well as anybody.

That said, right now the Cubs are somewhat stuck in the mud on the free agency front. Jeimer Candelario left for the Cincinnati Reds. Not a surprise necessarily, but a reminder that Chicago has mostly lost — not gained — to date. Marcus Stroman isn't expected to return. Neither is Cody Bellinger, whose price point could far exceed what the Cubs are willing to pay.

Chicago was an early player for both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but both Japanese superstars appear to have left the Cubs in the dust. If Bellinger leaves and the Cubs' primary target turns into Rhys Hoskins, it will be hard to call the offseason anything but a failure. At the very least it will be a letdown, aside from the Counsell hire.

Soto could have changed the Cubs' trajectory in a major way. Chicago would have to pony up with a massive extension next winter, but Soto is worth it. He's 25, potentially with over a decade of high-impact hitting left in the tank. Chicago has built a tremendous defensive roster centered on Dansby Swanson, but there's a notable lack of power in the middle of the lineup. Soto, whose expected slugging percentage of .538 last season ranked in the MLB's 95th percentile, is a run machine.

Landing Soto and Counsell in the same offseason would have announced the Cubs' seriousness as contenders. Instead, Chicago is hoping to scrap together enough second or third-tier free agents to build on last season's narrow postseason miss.

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