San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto called his final weeks in Washington "uncomfortable" after the Nationals' $440 million contract extension offer was leaked to the media.
"We tried to keep it as private as we can, and this number just came out. ... it was pretty tough," Soto told ESPN. "It was uncomfortable. I was trying to get things private, keep talking and all that kind of stuff, but they just throw that number out there. It feels really uncomfortable. It really shocked me, and it feels really painful."
The Nationals traded Soto and first baseman Josh Bell to the Padres for C.J. Abrams, MacKenzie Gore, Robert Hassell III, James Wood, Jarlin Susana and Luke Voit at the deadline in what's been called one of the largest trade hauls in MLB history.
Soto signed with the Nationals as an international free agent in 2015 at age 16. He quickly worked his way through the organization and made his MLB debut in 2018, bursting onto the scene as an instant-impact superstar.
Equipped with elite power and the best batting eye of his generation, Soto finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting in each of his first three full seasons in Washington and built a resume that made him a near-lock to become the highest-paid player in baseball history when he hit free agency. The Nationals offered him a historic 15-year, $440 million offer that doubled as the largest guarantee in MLB history and a clear low-ball offer.
"At the end of the day, it is what it is," Soto said. "I was feeling great on that team. I was feeling pretty good. I was trying my best. They let me know about it, early in the year, that it is a business and they would love to get me, but this and that."
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called the decision to trade Soto "brutal" and said it was "emotional" for him given the relationship he's developed with the outfielder and his family over the years. Soto's younger brother, Elian, is set to sign with the organization when he becomes eligible in January.