Nationals GM Pushes Back: "We Are Not Trading Juan Soto"

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Nationals GM Pushes Back: “We Are Not Trading Juan Soto”

Chicago Cubs

Sometimes, trade rumors begin with actual conversations between members of the media and various players/agents/teams. These tend to be the seedlings that materialize into actual deals. But other times, rumors are born out of little more than informed speculation. For example, if a superstar player — say, Juan Soto — is on a losing team — say, the 2022 Washington Nationals — and he recently rejected a significant contract extension — say, $350 million over 13 years — then some may wonder if that team might start considering their options. It’s not a useless process, frankly. It’s just not always rooted in truth.

And that’s what seems to have happened earlier this month, when Buster Olney (ESPN) openly asked if the Nationals might trade Juan Soto at the deadline. Naturally, that story picked up some serious steam, as Soto is one of the best young players in MLB, with other reporters crafting trade packages and measuring the playoff impact of a Soto trade to each team in MLB.

Well, that rumor made its way back to the team, forcing the Nationals GM Mike Rizzo to issue a statement in no uncertain terms:

“We are not trading Juan Soto,” GM Mike Rizzo said via 106.7 The Fan. “We’ve made it clear to his agent and to the player. … 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., made it clear to him that we are not interested in trading him, and I guess the rest of the world just doesn’t believe it. But that’s our position.”

I’m hesitant to say “Case closed!” because Rizzo obviously has all the incentive in the world to hide the ball on a possible Soto trade here at the beginning of June (to say nothing of what impact that could have on the Nationals efforts to sell the team). But I also think that he’s probably telling the truth.

NOTE: Soto, 23, is a career .294/.426/.539 (153 wRC+) hitter with 107 home runs before his 24th birthday. He has 2.5 years more of team control via arbitration, and is already making $17.1M this season.

From the beginning, we found it extraordinarily unlikely that the Nationals would actually trade Soto *at all* let alone mid-season, when the market won’t be as wide and fruitful as it would be in the offseason. But now it feels even less likely. The Nationals know what they have in Soto and they’re going to take as long as they need (and try as hard as they can) to put an offer that Soto would accept on the table before their time is up.

And that’s the thing, Soto still has two more years of control after this season. There’s really no rush to get something done. I’m not saying he’ll be a National for life, but I don’t think trading him in the next two months makes a whole lot of sense for Washington.

Unless they want to trade him to the Cubs. Then it would be #verysmart.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami