The lull of the MLB all-star break got a little more interesting after The Athletic reported that Juan Soto turned down a $440m, 15-year contract with the Washington Nationals. The mega-deal would have likely kept the MLB superstar in a Nationals uniform for the rest of his career. It also would have been the biggest contract in baseball history, surpassing the 12-year $426.5 million deal that Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.
Just last month, the Nationals insisted they would not trade Soto, but now say they will entertain offers for the generational talent.
Soto is hitting .249 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs this season and is fresh off winning the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium.
Story Leak leaves Soto Sour
The Athletic cited unnamed sources when the story broke, and it appears to have left a bitter taste in Soto’s mouth, according to a report by The Guardian.
“It feels really bad to see stuff going out like that because I’m a guy who, my side, keeps everything quiet and try to keep it to them and me,” Soto said last week. “They just make the decision and do what they need to do.”
Soto went on to say that any questions about his contract could go through his agent, Scott Boras.
Washington manager Dave Martinez understands Soto’s frustration.
“He’s young,” Martinez said. “I’m sure when things like that come out that are personal, it bothers people. I’m sure it bothers him a lot. But like I said, he’s got to understand that this is part of the game, right? We’ve all been through it at some point in time. But he’s got to go out there and remember why he’s here, and that’s to help us win games and I know he’ll do that.”
Soto is just 23 years old and won’t become a free agent until after the 2024 season. He’s already a two-time all-star, World Series champion, batting champion (2020), and runner-up for the NL MVP (2021).
Possible Landing Spots
While there’s no guarantee that Soto will be dealt, one thing is for sure: if he’s traded, it will cost a lot. Talent like Soto doesn’t come along very often, and the Nationals will be looking for a king’s ransom to fill the cupboards for the future. The list of possible suitors will likely be short, but here are three candidates that have a realistic chance of getting a deal done.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have underperformed this year and, having recently fired Manager Charlie Montoyo, could be looking to shake things up even more. They’ve got the prospects to make this trade, and a vital piece of the deal would likely be catcher Gabriel Moreno. Moreno is the Jays’ top prospect and sixth on MLB’s top 100 list. With the emergence of all-star catcher Alejandro Kirk, Moreno could become expendable. A deal would likely include the Jays’ top four prospects and more.
Blue Jays receive: Juan Soto
Nationals receive: Gabriel Moreno, Orelvis Martinez, Jordan Groshans, Ricky Tiedeman, Nate Pearson
San Francisco Giants
While the Giants always seem to be in the thick of things as contenders, they’re still lacking that elite face of the franchise that could get them over the hump. Soto would be that guy, and San Francisco has the money and prospects to work something out. They would, of course, have to unload most of their top-tier farm talent, including MLB’s 11th-ranked prospect, Marco Luciano. The haul could also include Luis Matos (59th in top 100) and Kyle Harrison (71st).
Giants receive: Juan Soto
Nationals receive: Marco Luciano, Joey Bart, Luis Matos, Kyle Harrison, Mike Yastrzemski, Will Bednar, Aeverson Arteaga, Manuel Mercedes
The Mariners love their blockbuster trades, and this one would be a doozy. The surging Mariners have found themselves in a Wild Card spot and would love nothing more than to complement budding superstar Julio Rodriguez with Soto in the outfield. The deal could include shortstop Noelvi Marte, currently MLB’s 19th-ranked prospect.
Mariners receive: Juan Soto
Nationals receive: Noelvi Marte, Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis, George Kirby, Matt Brash, Edwin Arroyo