If you ever want to find the perfect example of the adage don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, go no further than Washington Nationals player Juan Soto. The Nats left fielder recently turned down a 15-year, $440 million offer made by the organization, leaving many scratching their heads.
The equivalent of a Powerball windfall being rejected is mind-boggling, and now the team is looking to trade Soto, per reports.
Front offices are already having the conversations: What is it going to take to acquire Juan Soto in the wake of him turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Nationals? And the answer is: The biggest trade package ever. “A Herschel Walker deal,” one GM said.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 16, 2022
The team wanted to lock Soto down for the long haul, but ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline the 23-year-old superstar is looking to reach free agency after the 2024 season, leaving the Nats to consider keeping him through the rest of this season and the two remaining seasons afterward.
However, the deal’s rejection is tantamount to a Will Smith-level open-hand slap. Now, with the possibility of a long-term relationship in doubt, the club is reportedly fielding trade offers.
“It feels really bad to see stuff going out like that because I’m a guy who keeps everything on my side. I keep everything quiet,” Soto said before Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. “I keep everything quiet and try to keep it just [to] me,” Soto continued. “But they just [made] the decision and do whatever they need to do.”
Might be the best offer the Nats can get for Juan Soto, MLB Network nailed this trade proposal pic.twitter.com/uYYL5v2HlM
— Phillies Muse (@Phillies_Muse) July 16, 2022
For Soto, the team is taking his decision personally and leaked the details of the offer and his rejection of it, possibly causing an uproar. Trade talks can go less favorably for Soto if teams feel that he is less agreeable even when the price sounds right. Call it the Kyrie Irving effect.
“When things like that come out that are personal, it bothers people. I’m sure it bothers him a lot,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said to the Washington Post. “But he’s got to understand that this is part of the game, right? We’ve all been through it at some point in time.”
However, Soto believes that there is more money out there for less time. The annual value of the contract is $29.3 million. Although the cumulative $440 million is the biggest contract in baseball history by total value, it ranks 20th by annual value. Currently, Mike Trout of the Anaheim Angels, who signed an extension in March 2019, is baseball’s highest-paid position player making $36 million in average annual value.
He signed for $426.5 million for 12 years. Trout was 27 years old when he signed the extension.
Soto at 23 knows the money is there if the Nats were willing to offer that much. Now he wants to see if he can get double-digit years and an average annual value that is significantly higher, according to multiple reports.
Juan Soto is a savage 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/T6mFzE16Ee
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) July 16, 2022
Manager Martinez said he would be providing his sage counsel to the player.
“I mean, at the end of the day, you’re going to get what you deserve. We all know that,” Martinez said. “And for me, I hope it’s here. Because I love the kid. I don’t ever think that he’s anything else but a Washington National.”
Now a stalemate is afoot, and with Soto’s side not presenting a counter-offer or the Nats expected to increase their offer, a trade might be inevitable.