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Nats' Juan Soto on Trade Rumors: 'I'm Just Another Player, Another Employee Here'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2022

The Washington Post

Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto addressed his feelings concerning the flurry of rumors about his future ahead of Tuesday's MLB trade deadline.

Soto homered in Monday night's 7-3 loss to the New York Mets in what could end up being his final game with the Nats.

"I feel good where I'm at," Soto told reporters. "I understand it's a business, and they need to do whatever they need to do. I'm just another player, another employee here like [former teammate Ryan Zimmerman] used to say."

He also thanked the fans for their strong support throughout the night at Nationals Park.

"It means a lot," Soto said. "It kind of feels weird, too, because nothing's happened yet. We're still waiting. It's kind of cool at the same time, but it's kind of weird, too."

Soto, 23, is the one player available on the trade market who could cause a monumental shift in the World Series outlook if he's dealt before 6 p.m. ET.

The two-time All-Star owns a career .291/.427/.538 slash line with 119 homers and 38 stolen bases across 565 appearances with Washington.

While his .894 OPS this season is on pace to set a new career-low, it's important to factor in the lack of protection in the Nats' lineup. His 91 walks are an astonishing 31 more than anybody else in baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers' Max Muncy, 60).

If Soto moves to a high-end contender where opposing pitchers won't have nearly as much leeway to pitch around him, his numbers could explode down the stretch.

Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported Monday the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals are all still involved in discussions with the Nationals.

Adding Soto to a Dodgers lineup that already ranks second in MLB with 534 runs scored would be borderline unfair, and it'd make L.A. the clear World Series favorite.

Going to either the Padres or Cardinals would move those teams into the upper echelon alongside the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves.

The situation has reached this point because the two-time Silver Slugger Award winner has shown no interest in signing a long-term extension with the Nationals.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Soto turned down a 15-year, $440 million proposal in mid-July, which led Washington to begin considering trade offers.

The Dominican Republic native still has two more years of club control via arbitration and can't become a free agent until after the 2024 season, per Spotrac. So there isn't imminent time pressure if the Nats don't get the type of package they want before the deadline.

Even the mere idea he could be on the move makes for one of the biggest deadline stories in years, though.

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