Juan Soto, Nationals Contract Extension Talks 'Didn't Go Very Far' in Offseason

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2021

Washington Nationals' Juan Soto takes a lead during the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo would like Juan Soto to be a key piece of the team for years to come, but contract discussions have not taken off to this point.

Rizzo said such talks last spring "didn't go very far" and have not been revisited since given the uncertainty the entire league dealt with in 2020, per Mark Zuckerman of MASN.

"But our plans are to make an effort like we’ve made efforts in the past to our really great young players, to keep them in a Nationals uniform for a long, long time," Rizzo said.

Zuckerman noted questions about Soto's future with the team arose after Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million extension with the San Diego Padres.

"For me, I was really happy for (Tatis)," Soto said. "I just congrats him and everything. For me right now, I just try to come here and play baseball. I don't think about any of that. Anytime I come to spring, my mind is on baseball. I try to get my body in shape, get ready and try to win another championship."

This isn't an immediately pressing issue for either side.

After all, Soto is not scheduled for unrestricted free agency until after the 2024 campaign. Still, locking up the 22-year-old would give Washington a franchise cornerstone to build around and serve as a contrast to Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon eventually signing elsewhere after becoming stars with the Nationals.

Soto has played for the Nationals during the last three seasons and already has a World Series title, Silver Slugger and batting title on his resume. He slashed .351/.490/.695 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 47 games during the shortened 2020 season.

The slugger figures to be among the league's best players for the foreseeable future, and contract talks will surely pick up with the Nationals at some point. They just haven't advanced much of late.