Report: Nationals, Juan Soto in talks over potential $425 million contract

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in March that signing Juan Soto to an extension was the organization’s “No. 1 priority,” and the latest news about their contract talks may be proving that statement true.

According to MLB insider Hector Gomez, talks between the Nationals and the 23-year-old superstar are “intensifying” over a potential 13-year, $425 million extension. The offer would be a massive increase compared to the last reported deal the team sent Soto’s agent Scott Boras — a 13-year, $350 million contract that Soto turned down, according to ESPN.

The $425 million number would be the second-largest contract signed in MLB history, behind only Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal. A 13-year deal would tie Soto to D.C. through his age-36 season. 

Rizzo said in March that Soto is the “face of the franchise” when discussing his intention on keeping him in the District. 

“We’re going to attack a deal with Juan Soto,” Rizzo said. “This is his team. He’s the face of the franchise. I want him here for the long term. We’re going to continue to talk and try to make him a Nat for a long time.”

After the news broke in February that he turned down the $350 million offer from the Nationals, Soto, who is a free agent after the 2024 season, told ESPN that he still wants to spend the rest of his career in D.C. 

“I still think of Washington as the place where I would like to spend the rest of my career, so we will see,” Soto said.

In May, multiple national baseball writers either reported or opined that executives from other teams believe the rebuilding Nationals could trade Soto this summer — rumors that Rizzo quickly dispelled in a radio interview. 

“We are not trading Juan Soto. We’ve made it clear to his agent and to the player,” Rizzo said on 106.7 The Fan. “… We have every intention of building this team around Juan Soto. We’ve spoken to his agent many, many times, recently sat with him when he was in Washington, D.C., and made it clear to him that we are not interested in trading him. I guess the rest of the world just doesn’t believe it, but that’s our position.”

It’s difficult to put a proper valuation on Soto, or any player of his caliber. He doesn’t bring the defensive value that Trout and Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (12-year, $365 million contract) do, but Soto is undoubtedly one of the game’s best offensive producers, both as a feared slugger and an on-base machine. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, was a vital part of the Nationals’ 2019 World Series title, led the National League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging in 2020 and then finished second in MVP voting in 2021. 

Before the end of the 2021 season, Spotrac projected Soto’s next deal to be $503 million over 15 years — the first time the contract database website’s market valuation for a player exceeded half a billion dollars. 

Soto is having a down season by his standards this year, slashing .224/.375/.437 and struggling with runners in scoring position. But he still leads the Senior Circuit with 63 walks in 76 games and has smashed a team-high 14 home runs. 

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