Where will Juan Soto play after rejecting Washington Nationals’ $440 million contract offer?
Juan Soto has been made available for trade after he turned down the last offer by the Nationals. Every team should be interested in one of the biggest talents in baseball.
An offer of $440 million seems like an impossible proposition to say no to, as it would be the biggest contract ever in MLB, but Dominican star Juan Soto believes he is worth more than that, and rightly so. The dollar amount would top Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, but that was for 12 years, while Soto’s offer wanted to pin him to the team for 15 seasons. This meant an annual average salary well below the top contracts in the game, such as Max Scherzer’s 3-year $130 million deal, which the 23 year old believes he deserves.
Soto works with the most important agent in baseball in Scott Boras, who always tries to set the market with the offers his agents accept, as is his job. Boras believes that Soto’s value as one of the greatest hitters the league has ever seen through the first few seasons of his career clearly exceeds what the Nationals have offered to his client. Soto has two more seasons under team control apart from this one, which would mean that the team trading for him would need to present an enormous offer to compensate for the Nationals loss.
Soto entered the major leagues as a teenager and was very important to the Nationals winning the World Series during his rookie season, and he will be the youngest free agent since Alex Rodríguez if no extension is reached in the next couple of seasons. The Dominican started off slow this season but he is already back to his standards, with an 160 OPS+ which equals his career mark. Any team that trades for Soto will do so in hopes of reaching a deal with him, therefore having to offer more than the Nats did, but the 23 year old All-Star hitter would be an impressive boost to any squad with their sights fixed on the World Series in the short term. These are some of the teams that should try their hardest to be Soto’s new team:
New York Mets
A division rival, which might make a trade trickier, but Soto-to-the-Mets has been a constant rumor for years now. The club from Queens made a big splash by signing Soto’s past teammate Max Scherzer this offseason and pairing him up with Jacob DeGrom, in just another sign of the economic power the franchise has since Steve Cohen bought it. The Mets would pony-up the money for Soto in a second, as he would make their outfield considerably better for the next decade, but their assets might not be so great in their pursue of a trade, since their best prospect, MLB ranked no.2 prospect Francisco Álvarez, is a catcher, one of the few positions that the Nats have no needs at thanks to Keibert Ruiz.
San Diego Padres
AJ Preller is the reason the Padres are what they are right now, a team full of stars which does not doubt about offering money for stars such as Manny Machado or Fernando Tatis, but is still a bit behind the Dodgers. A trade for Juan Soto would help them become the juggernaut that their general manager wants to create, even if prospects and young players such as SS CJ Abrams or SP Mackenzie Gore would have to go. MLB insider Jon Heyman believes them to be in pole position in the race for Soto.
New York Yankees
A team with the best record in the majors and no outfield needs if Aaron Judge ends up re-signing, but they are also the Yankees, so they will be in on this. A splash such as trading for Soto would make them by far the best team in the American League, and improve their chances of a World Series win in a way that would hopefully end the title drought they have experienced since 2009. Given the revenue the Yankees get every year, there should be no issue with offering Soto the greatest contract ever, and they also have quite a few prospects worth taking a look in Peraza, Domínguez and Volpe.
The Mariners have not reached the playoffs for 20 years, which is hard to hear and even harder to change, but they have also won 13(!) straight games this month which has improved their Fangraphs playoff odds up to 64.4% from just 12% a couple of weeks ago. A trade for Soto would mean an outfield with both Julio Rodríguez, already an All-Star and on his way to being crowned Rookie of the Year, and Juan Soto, the best pure hitter the league has seen since Ted Williams. They have the prospect depth to make a compelling offer to the Nats; it would hinge on ownership deciding to go all in and giving both Soto and JRod the contracts they deserve to assure that the Mariners make the playoffs routinely during the next decade.
Not as much of a joke as it may seem since, yes, they have just made him available for trade after Soto refused their third offer, but the team might be sold in the coming months, which could drastically change the situation. If Soto is traded before the deadline, with the Nats netting the best return possible, then the Dominican’s career in the Capital is over, but if they hold on to him for this season and ownership changes, who knows if an improved offer could come and be accepted by their All-Star. They are, after all, the only team for whom Soto would only cost money and not prospects.