Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo on Wednesday addressed the trade of Juan Soto, calling it a "brutal" and "emotional" moment for the franchise.
"Brutal scene. It was very, very difficult," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies. "I had kept Juan and Josh in the loop on where we were at during the trade talks and that type of thing, because I think it's only right to inform them, because they're reading all the stuff that's out there and that type of thing."
The Nationals traded Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the San Diego Padres for MacKenzie Gore, C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III, James Wood, Jarlin Susana and Luke Voit ahead of Tuesday's MLB trade deadline. The move was an about-face for Rizzo, who previously said the organization had no plans to trade the 23-year-old two-time All-Star.
Rizzo said the team's outlook changed when Soto rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract extension. While most observers feel the Nationals received a historic haul from the Padres, Rizzo called his meeting with Soto to inform him of the trade an "emotional time."
"Yeah, it was a warm farewell and it was very emotional," Rizzo said. "I told him I loved him and he'll always be a part of my history and my family, and go on and have the career that we all think you're gonna have. And that was it. Yeah. We signed him at 16-and-a-half years old. I had known him since he was 14. It was...yeah, it's a very emotional time."
Washington signed Soto in 2015. Early this year, Elian Soto, Juan's younger brother, verbally agreed to sign with the team when he becomes eligible in January.
So while the divorce between Juan Soto and the Nationals was one few saw coming before the 2022 season, the two sides also apparently have no hard feelings.