Stepping away from the starting pitching market for a minute, the pool of available bats at the trade deadline this year leaves a lot to be desired. There are a couple relatively interesting rental guys like Adam Duvall and maybe a couple guys with some team control that could work like Lane Thomas, but this isn't a deep group. One team could change all of that: the San Diego Padres.
Things have not gone to plan for the Padres. This is an organization that invested very heavily in both trades and free agency in this roster and they currently have a fourth place standing and sub .500 record to show for it. The Padres' front office has tried to portray an air of confidence that they think the team could turn things around. If they are honest with themselves and read the writing on the wall, though, one guy that could bring San Diego back a haul in a trade is Juan Soto.
Again, it would certainly be weird to trade as much as San Diego did last year to get Soto only to turn around and trade him this year, but the situation has changed. The Padres do not appear to be going anywhere this season and with Soto set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, this is the Padres' chance to get a real return for him unless they are dead set on extending him.
Oddsmakers will probably say that the Padres will try at least one more year with this insanely talented core of theirs before considering moving any of them. However, there is a world where San Diego decides to cut their losses in 2023 and make moves that could quickly reposition themselves financially and with their roster to be competitive again in short order.
For the Astros, this would be a no-brainer interest. Soto is a legitimate superstar who changes the dynamic of a game anytime he comes to the plate. To even get the Padres interested would probably require some major league talent and a good prospect or two, but this kind of bat rarely becomes available on the trade market. If it happens, the Astros should pounce.