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MLB Rumors: Juan Soto Rejects Nationals' $440M Contract; Will Be Discussed in Trades

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2022

Brett Davis/Getty Images

Right fielder Juan Soto reportedly turned down a massive contract extension offer from the Washington Nationals, and the team is now open to trading him.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Soto rejected a 15-year, $440 million deal, marking the third time in recent months that he balked at an offer from the Nats.

Rosenthal noted that the contract would have made Soto the highest-paid player in baseball history in terms of total money, and he would have been the 20th-highest-paid player on an annual basis with a salary of $29.3 million.

Soto is under team control through 2024, but Rosenthal reported the Nationals plan to entertain trade offers for him leading up to the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

Per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Soto commented on the matter Saturday, saying he wasn't happy it got out to the media since he likes to keep things private.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post noted Soto turned down the offer for multiple reasons ranging from the structure of the contract to uncertainty regarding the future of the franchise.

Soto and agent Scott Boras reportedly viewed the backloaded offer as essentially equal to including deferred money, plus they felt the annual salary was too low.

Additionally, the Nationals are "likely to be sold."

ESPN's Jeff Passan commented on the news as well, noting that teams across Major League Baseball are having discussions about what it would take to acquire Soto. One general manager said it would require a "a Herschel Walker deal."

In 1989, the NFL's Dallas Cowboys famously traded running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a massive package of players and draft picks, setting the stage for the Cowboys to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s.

Had the 23-year-old Soto agreed to the Nationals' latest offer, it would have kept him under contract with the team until his age-38 season.

Per Rosenthal, Boras prefers for his clients to set their markets in free agency, and the belief is that Soto could seek a $500 million deal.

If Soto is set on becoming a free agent, any team that trades for him would only be guaranteed to have him for the remainder of this season and two more seasons.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said last month that the team had no interest in trading Soto and wanted to build around him, but Rosenthal reported that since Soto didn't sign the $440 million deal, Washington believes he will never re-sign.

As a result, the club plans to see what trade opportunities are out there, but it won't move him for anything less than its asking price.

Soto has already accomplished a great deal in just five seasons, earning two All-Star nods, two Silver Slugger Awards and one batting title, plus he played a huge role in the Nats' World Series championship in 2019.

After setting career highs with 34 home runs and 110 RBI in 2019, Soto led the National League with a .351 batting average in 2020 and then hit .313 with 29 homers and 95 RBI last season.

He is having a down year by his standards, slashing .247/.405/.490, but he has 19 home runs and 42 RBI, and he leads the majors with 79 walks.

The powerful lefty has been on a recent hot streak, hitting .417 with five home runs and 10 RBI in July. He will compete in Monday's Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Given his age and track record, Soto would command a ton of compensation in a trade and help give the Nats quality assets to aid in their rebuild.

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