In the next weeks, one of baseball’s top players might change teams.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Juan Soto, the standout player for the Washington Nationals, reportedly turned down a 15-year, $440 million deal from the club.
The Nationals will then consider offers for the young star as a result of that choice.
Soto, 23, would have become the highest-paid player in baseball history thanks to the proposed deal. Notably, there was no deferred payment in the offer.
The Nationals’ willingness to deviate from that pattern might be a measure of how much they wanted to keep Soto. Soto’s rejection of it shows that he wasn’t happy with the terms of the contract and that he thinks he can earn more money if he stays healthy.
Amazingly, Soto might be correct in his assessment. For the MLB season in 2022, Soto received $17 million in arbitration. If Soto stays healthy and keeps producing over the next two seasons, that number will most certainly rise.
Soto would need to match or surpass $390 million when he enters the free agency market after the 2024 season if he earns around $50 million over the next two seasons, which is plausible.
At that time, Soto will be 26 years old, making him one of the most recent free agents to be under that age.
When they entered the market following the 2018 season, Harper and Manny Machado were both 26 years old.
The Philadelphia Phillies paid Harper $330 million.
The San Diego Padres gave Machado $300 million. If you factor in inflation, Soto’s track record, and his so far unblemished ability to stay healthy, his market value may approach $390 million.
Naturally, he would need to maintain good health and carry on producing at an elite level to be eligible for that sum.
He has already surpassed the number of home runs he hit in a single month in 2022, and it is just halfway through July. Although Soto has played only 13 games, his recent run suggests he is making progress.