WASHINGTON — Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto made multiple headlines during the All-Star Break when he not only won the Home Run Derby over rookie Julio Rodriguez, but also when it was reported that the league expectation is that Soto will be traded before the deadline on Aug. 2.
Soto recently turned down the largest contract offer in the history of Major League Baseball from the Nationals at $440 million. That’s led to expectations that Soto wants to be dealt away from Washington.
But will it happen before the early August trade deadline? Locked On Nationals podcast host Josh Neighbors joined Kainani Stevens on Locked On Sports Today to discuss why he doesn’t see Soto getting moved before the deadline.
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“It’s always been my belief that Soto’s next contract is going to be between $450 and $500 million,” Neighbors said on Locked On Sports Today. “The big problem is the average annual value of the contract. At $440 million over 14 years, it’s not going to be top 20 in baseball. That’s what (Soto’s agent) Scott Boras and Juan Soto are looking for. So there’s been conversation about potential trades, but I don’t believe the Nationals have had their last say yet.”
Neighbors said that Soto's agent Scott Boras and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo discussed how Max Scherzer is getting $43 million a year for three years. But, Neighbors said Boras wants that annual figure over a much larger timeframe.
“They batted around the Max Scherzer number, who got $43 million a year for three years," Neighbors said. "According to reporter Jon Heyman, that’s something that Boras brought up and the Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said OK we’ll give him that deal. But Boras’ response was that they wanted that for 14-15 years. But nobody’s going to invest $600 million in one player. That’s a bridge too far in my opinion."
There's one more wrinkle that Neighbors said people aren't necessarily bringing up and that's the fact that the Nationals are up for sale, which makes this all very complicated to accomplish before the deadline.
“Juan Soto has mentioned that he wants to know what the new ownership group would bring to the table," Neighbors said. "And so, that’s one part of this I don’t understand. If you’re selling a franchise, this is your best asset. From that standpoint, why would the old regime make the call on whether or not Juan Soto should be traded."
"I don’t see the team being sold in the next 13 days, so as much as the idea is being pushed that execs think he’ll be traded, it wouldn’t make sense that this group, with their desire to sell the team, are going to be the ones that make the call on the asset that will shape the future of the franchise.”
So what kind of deal could actually get done? Neighbors said he believes $400 million over 10 years is a fair deal for both sides.
“That would allow him to get a full decade contract at $40 million per year and then he’d still be able to get another contract after that. That’s a deal that makes a lot of sense. Anything that far above that, you might have to trade him if somebody’s willing to do that. Baseball is a team sport. The Angels aren’t winning because they’re paying Mike Trout what they’re paying him. The Nationals farm system is not very good and they might be better off, if it’s that big of a contract, to get a lot of good young players in return, rather than paying one guy $600 million.”
Keep up with all the Juan Soto news ahead on the daily Locked On Nationals podcast, free and available on all platforms.