Juan Soto is available.
The All-Star outfielder recently turned down an offer from the Washington Nationals that would have made him the highest-paid player in baseball history, and the team now plans to accept trade offers for him, a seismic development leading by the August 2 deadline. .
Soto, 23, rejected a 15-year, $440 million offer, sources said. The proposal, the Nationals’ third in recent months, included no deferred money, a departure from standard team practice. The two largest guarantees in club history, $245 million for right-hander Stephen Strasburg and $210 million for right-hander Max Scherzer, included significant deferrals, lowering current trade values.
The Nationals’ offer exceeded in total dollars the 12-year, $426.5 million contract Mike Trout signed with the Angels in March 2019. Soto would have received an average salary of $29.33 million, the 20th highest in baseball history, with the deal spanning his seasons from 24 to 38, making him a National for the rest of his career.
De Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, however, generally prefers that his clients establish their values in the market. Soto is on track to become a free agent entering his 26-year-old season and could eventually seek a deal worth more than $500 million. Boras was not immediately available for comment.
On June 1, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan, a Washington D.C. radio station, that the team would not trade Soto before the deadline. Instead, Rizzo said, the team wanted to make Soto the centerpiece of their rebuilding plan.
“We are not trading Juan Soto,” Rizzo said. “We made it clear to his agent (Boras) and to the player. … We fully intend to build this team around Juan Soto.
Soto’s rejection of $440m changed the equation, however, sources said, leaving club officials to believe that if they can’t sign him for that money, they never will. Nationals view their exploration of a Soto trade as due diligence. He is under the control of the club for the rest of this season, then two more. The team does not need to trade it immediately if they do not get the desired offer.
Soto, batting .247 with 19 home runs and an .895 OPS, is below his usual levels but got hot in July.
Any team that acquired it would control it for three pennant races. This number will drop to two once the deadline passes, reducing its future commercial value. Soto, who earns $17.1 million, is also likely to receive significant raises in his final two years in salary arbitration.
The potential sale of the Nationals, owned by the Lerner family since 2006, is another factor in the team’s approach to Soto. As the Lerners considered selling the team, they wanted to clarify their position with Soto for potential buyers. Soto is an asset, but not if his contract is so big that it would be difficult for the Nationals to build around him.
The Nationals (32-60) have the worst record in the majors. Soto’s trade would be a way to replenish their depleted agricultural system, which AthleticismKeith Law of ranked 27th out of 30 major league franchises.
(Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)