Things are getting petty in Washington, D.C., between the Nationals and star slugger Juan Soto. After the two-time All-Star rejected a 15-year, $440 million deal, the third time in the past several months, the Nationals are open to trading him, and they reportedly refused to charter him a flight to the Home Run Derby earlier this week.
Juan Soto's agent confirmed that the Washington Nationals "refused" to charter him a flight to the Home Run Derby, after he rejected their $440M contract extension.
Soto flew commercial, arrived in LA at 1:30 a.m, then won the Derby.
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) July 20, 2022
Soto flew commercial and landed in Los Angeles at 1:30 a.m. local time the morning of the derby and went out and won it later that evening.
Take that, Nationals!
At 23 years old, Soto is one of the bright young stars in the game. He’s a three-time All-MLB, two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, a batting champion, and World Series champion. He is the cornerstone of your lineup for the next decade.
Of course the Nationals want to keep him, but the franchise is struggling at the moment, and his agent Scott Boras wants him to earn more on a contender. He currently makes $17.1 million but still has two seasons of arbitration before he can become a free agent.
Any team that trades for him will have to give the Nats a haul of young talent. A potential trade could be one of the biggest in the history of the sport.
Before leaving for the All-Star Game, Soto expressed displeasure with his rejection of the deal making its way to the media.
Juan Soto just talked with a few reporters here in D.C. Said he’s not happy this came out because, as he put it, he’s someone who likes to keep things private. Also said it’s uncomfortable going into the all-star break but he’ll deal with it. As somber as I’ve seen him.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) July 16, 2022
Those are the breaks. A high-profile player with Boras as his agent turning down the richest contract, in terms of total dollars paid, is going to get out to the media.
The baseball season is an extremely long grind. At 23, Soto probably doesn’t want to waste two more productive seasons for a non-contender. Not to mention the club is likely to be sold, according to reports.
While the total dollars are huge, the rejected contract would’ve made Soto the 20th-highest-paid player on an annual basis with a salary of $29.3 million. Perhaps he thinks he should be paid more annually.
One of the advantages to having a player under contract, like the Nats do with Soto, is you don’t have to trade them unless you get exactly what you want. In this case the Nats have no incentive to take less than they want in any deal.
Since the Nats are in rebuild mode they would likely want to unload another big contract in any potential Soto deal. Thirty-two-year-old Patrick Corbin, who has two years and $59 million left on his deal, is the likely candidate.
When you look at which teams have the young prospects and the ability to inflate their payroll into the $200 million to $300 million range that limits potential suitors.
For now Soto is with the Nationals, but as the season continues and teams look at their chances of making the playoffs, winning a pennant, or a World Series, things might change. The trade deadline is Aug. 2.
Either the Nats get exactly what they want in a potential trade or Soto will remain on the club for the rest of the season.