Washington Nationals: Don’t Be Surprised By Juan Soto Turning Down $350 Million

Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals reacts after their 5-3 win over the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on June 02, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals reacts after their 5-3 win over the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on June 02, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Just because Juan Soto turned down a $350 million extension doesn’t mean Washington Nationals fans should be freaking out.

When the Washington Nationals decided to blow up the roster and traded away superstars Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the deadline, they did so with the intention of building around young phenom Juan Soto. Only 23, he has already proven himself as one of the best hitters on the planet and is fresh off a second-place NL MVP finish.

In only four seasons, he’s already won a World Series title, a batting title, two Silver Sluggers, and was named to the All-MLB First Team twice and the Second Team once. So it should come as no surprise that the team has been vocally committed to keeping their star long-term.

Before the lockout started Washington offered Soto a 13-year extension worth $350 million which would have kept him in D.C. til 2034, his age 36 season. Soto confirmed the offer and that he rejected it to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.

“Yes, they made me an offer a few months ago, before the lockout,” Soto said. “But right now, my agents and I think the best option is to go year by year and wait for free agency. My agent, Scott Boras, has control over the situation.”

Nationals fans are going to be disappointed and understandably so that Soto turned down Washington’s offer. Yet, his decision shouldn’t come as a surprise. At first glance, many would be surprised to see Soto turned down what would have made him the third highest-paid player in MLB.

However, the deal has an annual average value of $26.9 million a year, which would make him the 20th highest-paid player per AAV (keep in mind, Soto is younger than everyone above him).

Now, there are a few ways to look at the situation. This was a solid offer to start off discussions, but ownership needs to submit a higher offer in the future. They cannot just pack it in and try to play it off as they tried and try to blame it on Soto.

Instead, if they are as series as they claim, a future offer needs to start at $400 million. $400 million over 13 years comes out to just under an AAV of $31 million, good for the 14th highest AAV. It would also make Soto the highest-paid player in the league. While that still may not get the job done, it would prove Washington is committed to keeping their side and it would allow the two sides to continue to negotiate in good faith.

Despite Soto rejecting the first offer, ownership already seems more content on keeping their star compared to past negotiations. For instance, the offer for Soto contained zero deferrals, something that had become the Nationals calling card in previous contracts. Deferrals played a part in Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper turning down extensions in the past.

With no end in sight to the lockout, it may be a while before the two sides continue negotiations. Soto did make it clear he wants to retire a National.

“Anyway, 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.

Now the front office will need to up their offer in order to make that a reality.