Why the race for Juan Soto will decide the rest of this MLB trade deadline

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

At some point over the next 24 hours, the great trade freeze of 2022 will thaw, and this dud of a deadline will melt into a deluge of action. Though the lack of deals so far implies otherwise, contenders still need talent. Bad teams still want to salvage what they can of a wasted season. The motivation exists. The incentives will align. Asks will lessen. Offers will grow. And all will be well for everyone except the poor sap at Major League Baseball whose job it is to process the flurry of deals sure to commence.

What is still to be seen is how much star power the coming flurry will feature -- and whether the one player with more of it than almost any other in baseball will change teams. Because this is, ultimately, the deadline of Juan Soto, and the industry-wide inaction, in many ways, traces back to the Washington Nationals holding firm on their asking price for a 23-year-old whom evaluators and analysts alike see as a generational talent.

It was Soto's insertion into the trade deadline machine -- two weeks ago, after he turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension offer -- that helped grind the process to a halt. Since then, Andrew Benintendi went to the Yankees. Seattle paid heavy for Luis Castillo. And just about everything else piled up in a logjam.