The Washington Nationals reportedly plan to make superstar outfielder Juan Soto one final contract offer before the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline.
According to Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital, the Nats will trade Soto before the deadline if he does not accept their offer.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that Soto turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer from Washington.
Rosenthal also reported that the Nationals would make Soto available in trade talks because they believed that if he didn't sign the $440 million deal, he would never re-sign with them.
Despite that, the Nats are apparently making a last-ditch effort to keep the face of the franchise.
The Nationals are not obligated to trade Soto if they can't get a deal done since he is under team control in 2023 and 2024 before becoming a free agent in 2025, but trading him now would likely maximize value.
That is key for a rebuilding Nationals team, as they must get as much as possible in a return for Soto or risk lengthening their rebuilding timeline.
Despite being just 23 years old, Soto is in his fifth MLB season and is among the top hitters in baseball.
He is a two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, one-time batting champion and one-time World Series champion.
En route to Washington's World Series title in 2019, Soto hit .282 with a career-high 34 home runs and 110 RBI.
He followed that up with a batting title in 2020 when he hit .351, and he finished second in the National League MVP voting last season when he slashed .313/.465/.534 with 29 homers, 95 RBI and 111 runs scored.
Soto hit below his standards for the first three months of the season, but he has been much better in July and is slashing .243/.400/.480 with 20 home runs and 45 RBI.
Any team would love to get its hands on a young, sweet-swinging lefty like Soto, but it won't be cheap, as the Nats are likely to demand multiple top prospects.
Re-signing Soto is the preferred path since the Nationals could focus their rebuild around him, but if that doesn't happen and they trade him prior to next week's deadline, they figure to receive one of the biggest trade packages in MLB history.