Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is putting the Juan Soto trade rumors to bed once and for all.
"We are not trading Juan Soto," Rizzo said Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's The Junkies.
Soto rumors have been ramping up amid the club's 18-33 record and the All-Star's seeming unwillingness to negotiate a long-term contract extension. At the advice of his agent, Scott Boras, Soto turned down a 13-year, $350 million contract offer during the offseason.
"My agents and I think the best option is to go year after year and wait for free agency," Soto told ESPN's Enrique Rojas in February. "My agent, Scott Boras, is in control of that situation."
The Nationals have two years of team control remaining after the 2022 season, meaning Soto cannot become a free agent until the winter of 2024. If he does wind up hitting the open market, it's possible, if not likely, Soto lands the largest contract in MLB history.
The 23-year-old has been a bona fide superstar since joining the Nationals during the 2018 season at age 19. Only six position players have a higher WAR since Soto was called up, and only Jose Ramirez has been better since the start of the 2019 season.
Unlike many of Soto's contemporaries, he will have the advantage of hitting free agency directly in his prime. A player this young and generationally great has arguably not hit the open market since Alex Rodriguez in 2000.
"We have every intention of building this team around Juan Soto, and we've spoken to his agent many, many times," Rizzo said Wednesday. "We recently sat with him when he was in Washington, D.C., and made it clear to him that we're not interested in trading him. I guess the rest of the world doesn't believe it, but that's our position."
Mike Trout currently has the largest contract in MLB history at 12 years and $426.5 million. Trout was 27 when he signed that deal with the Los Angeles Angels, one year older than the age Soto will be when he can become a free agent.