Juan Soto Trade Rumors: Nationals 'Intent' on Finding Team to Pay 'Enormous Price'

Adam WellsJuly 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JULY 19: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals looks on  during the 92nd MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard at Dodger Stadium on July 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

While the Washington Nationals are entertaining trades for Juan Soto, they reportedly won't give away their 23-year-old superstar at a discount.

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Nationals are "intent" on finding a team that will "pay the enormous price" for Soto.

The price, according to Heyman, is "four or more worthwhile pieces."

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the Nationals will entertain trade offers for Soto after he rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract extension.

The deal would have been the richest in MLB history by total value, surpassing Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million extension with the Los Angeles Angels signed in 2019.

Going by average annual salary, Washington's offer would pay Soto $29.3 million per season. That would rank 15th in MLB, just ahead of Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale ($29 million per season).

Heyman previously reported that unconfirmed speculation around MLB is the Nationals will request a team's top four prospects and/or young major leaguers in return for Soto. They could also gauge a club's willingness to take on the remainder of Patrick Corbin's contract.

ESPN's Buster Olney reported Monday on SportsCenter that the Nationals will trade Soto before the Aug. 2 trade deadline if they can't agree on an extension.

Finding a team willing to meet Washington's asking price could be a challenge. He is earning $17.1 million this year. Next season, the two-time All-Star could break Mookie Betts' record $27 million deal to avoid arbitration with the Boston Red Sox in 2020.

The Red Sox traded Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers one month later. He signed a 12-year, $365 million contract extension with the Dodgers shortly after the trade.

Trading Soto could kick-start a rebuild for the Nationals. He is arguably the most valuable trade commodity in MLB. He's under team control for the rest of this season and for two additional years before he can become a free agent after the 2024 season.

Getting appropriate value in a trade could be difficult for Washington. Soto is only 23 years old, younger than both reigning Rookie of the Year winners—Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena (27) and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (25)—and Baltimore Orioles rookie catcher Adley Rutschman (24).

The Dominican superstar posted an on-base percentage over .400 and slugged over .500 in each of his first four seasons. He's got a .405 on-base percentage and .497 slugging percentage through 91 games in 2022.

Since winning the 2019 World Series, the Nationals have been one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball. Their 31-63 record this season is the worst in MLB, and they are on pace to finish last in the NL East for the third consecutive year.