Major League Baseball trade fodder is always fun and sometimes newsworthy. It became a major topic of conversation over the weekend following the Washington Nationals disclosure that they would be open to dealing one of the most valuable players, Juan Soto. Soto reportedly turned down a 15-year contract extension worth $440 million on Saturday.

While the $440 million pact would have been an MLB record, Soto – or his agent Scott Boras – likely turned it down because the 23-year-old outfielder would of “only” made an average of $29.33 million annually. That per season salary would would of made him the 20th highest paid player in MLB history.

Boras is believed to be seeking a $500 million contract or in the range of $33-35 million each year for Soto. It was the third offer from the Nationals that Soto’s group has declined in recent months. This most recent overture did not include any deferred money.

Soto is still under contract with the Nats through 2024. The two-time all-star, who finished second in the NL MVP voting last season, has overcome a slow start this year and is hitting .250/.405/.497 with 20 home runs and 43 RBI entering the all-star break.

Soto is not the only appealing player on the “open market” or will be over the next couple of seasons. Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Rafael Devers, Shohei Ohtani, Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Nola and possibly Nolan Arenado are among other top players who could leave their current teams.

With so many quality players potentially available in the next couple of years, I figured I would take a look at who I would build a franchise around while considering just free (or potential) agents. Of course, there are some soon-to-be free agents that are past their prime like David Price, Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, etc. Then there are players Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Yordan Alvarez, and Jose Ramirez who recently signed big deals of their own.

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Most Valuable Player: 1. Shohei Ohtani

I don’t think it is a surprise that the 28-year Japanese stud is atop of my list as not only can he beat the opponents with his bat, but also his arm. Ohtani is the reigning AL MVP and is enjoying his best season on the mound.

Ohtani leads the AL in WAR this year after topping the league in that category last year while also ranking in the top 10 in Power-Speed ratings since 2020. He is arbitration eligible this offseason and could hit the open market in 2024.

2. Juan Soto

The sweet-swinging youngster possesses a great eye, hits for average, and is a fantastic run producer. He hits left-handers pretty well and is also a strong outfielder. Soto has finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting in each of the last three seasons.

3. Mike Trout

Trout signed a huge contract, which includes a no-trade clause, for an MLB record $426.5 million over 12 years in 2019. But with Ohtani up for a new contract and the Angels struggling – having last made the playoffs in 2014 – owner Artie Moreno may not want to pay two players huge sums of money. While the 3-time AL MVP has been hampered by injuries over the last two seasons, he is still a dangerous hitter who is just 30 years old.

4. Nolan Arenado

It is unlikely that Arenado will hit the market any time soon as he is off signed through 2027 and is making at least $32 million for the next four years. However, the 31-year-old does have an opt- out clause after this season and his well-rounded game makes it necessary to put him on this list. Arenado, who is on-pace to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs for the seventh time in his career, ranks 14th in WAR and 3rd in defensive WAR among active players.

5. Aaron Judge

Judge will be a free agent after this season as he turned down a 7-year, $213.5 million offer from the Yankees earlier this year. The big-bopper is an above-average outfielder who is the leading candidate to win his first AL MVP Award in 2022 as he is on pace to produce a career season.