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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo Isn't Upset with Juan Soto, Wants to Know Who Leaked Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2022

Mike Christy/Getty Images

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday that he has no ill will toward outfielder Juan Soto after the All-Star turned down a massive contract offer.

Appearing on 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies, Rizzo made it clear that he has no contempt for Soto: "We made a historical offer to him and he turned it down. Am I upset with Juan Soto for doing that? No. I've known the kid since he was 15. I know him as good as anybody in the world. This isn't personal. This is business."

Rizzo did take issue with the fact that the contract situation leaked to the media, however, saying he was disappointed by it and wanted to know who leaked the information. He added, "Unequivocally, it did not come from me for sure or our front office."

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that Soto turned down a 15-year, $440 million offer, leading the Nats to make him available in trade talks.

If the Nationals do trade Soto prior to the Aug. 2 deadline, they won't use it as an opportunity to dump salary on another team. Rizzo said Wednesday that he won't "dilute the return for any player by including a bad contract."

That answer was in response to a question about struggling starting pitcher Patrick Corbin, who is due $59 million combined between the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

At 23, Soto is among the top young stars in baseball, and he will command a ton of interest and a huge return on the trade market.

Despite his age, Soto is in his fifth MLB season, and he has earned two All-Star selections, two Silver Slugger Awards, one batting title and one World Series championship.

He is also coming off a scintillating performance during the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles last week, winning the Home Run Derby.

The Dominican Republic native set career highs with 34 home runs and 110 RBI in 2019 en route to winning a World Series and hit a career-high .351 in 2020. He finished second in the National League MVP voting last season with a slash line of .313/.465/.534, plus 29 homers and 95 RBI.

Soto got off to a slow start this season, but he has come on in recent weeks and is slashing .245/.401/.485 with 20 home runs and 45 RBI for a Nationals team that has struggled to a 34-65 record, placing them last in the NL East.

Given how far the Nationals have fallen since winning the World Series less than three years ago, a full-on rebuild is likely their best bet, and trading Soto would give them plenty of quality building blocks.

Even though teams are aware Soto has rejected multiple contract offers, the Nationals still have some leverage in potential trade negotiations since he is controllable for a few more years.

He isn't eligible to become a free agent until 2025 since he is arbitration-eligible in 2023 and 2024, meaning the Nats can wait for the perfect offer.

Until then, Soto will remain the Nationals' main attraction, as he is one of the few reasons to watch the team during a miserable campaign.

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