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MLB

Could Juan Soto be the first MLB player to sign a contract for more than $500 million?

Juan Soto turned down what would have been the biggest ever contract in MLB history, so expect his new deal to go even higher yet

Update:
Juan Soto turned down what would have been the biggest ever contract in MLB history, so expect his new deal to go even higher
DENIS POROYAFP

When the Washington Nationals offered Juan Soto $440 million, it represented the largest payday in the history of baseball. His rejection of that offer triggered the mad scramble to trade him by the deadline that has dominated negotiations around the league.

Never mind that the deal he was offered was for 15 years rather than ten, and that the yearly numbers were actually less than some other deals in the league, the final number is what everyone wants to focus on. And that final number is now expected to get close to, if not topping, the $500 million mark.

The Padres will certainly want him on a deal of ten-plus years, and it is very possible that they will come to some number under that magic $500 million threshold for say ten years instead of fifteen. That would push his yearly total to a better place for him.

But it just doesn’t have the same “pop” does it? I mean, $500 million, that just kind of sings out to you.

Make no mistake, Juan Soto is a great hitter. He is putting up Hall of Fame-type numbers. He is the kind of player you want to have pinned down for a generation if you are San Diego. And at only 23 years old, he has his best years in front of him, so a ten year deal would get him locked in until he is 33, a perfect age to look at his production again. That Nationals fifteen year contract would have seen him locked in until the age 38, which is already a bit past prime marketability, no matter how good he is once it rolls around.

My personal gut feeling is that the Padres will strike a deal somewhere in the $460-480 million range for ten years, and then rely on contract extensions to push them into that rarified territory at a later date.

Anything can happen in ten years. Soto’s production may drop off, or it could pick up. He could turn into a great player for a short while or a future hall of famer. The Padres may want to wait and see, and a ten-year deal would likely be their ideal. With extension incentives, Soto may be tempted to go for that kind of deal, even if his agents are against it.

Keep in mind that the best deal for a player and the best deal for an agent are rarely the same thing. Soto may have his eye on what his guarantees are, where his yearly total falls, and how it plays out for him, whereas the agent will just want that final number to be as big as possible. Those two things are not always compatible.

All told, Soto may well expect to earn $500 million out of the deal, but if we want that one magic headline, we may have to wait a bit longer.

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