Juan Soto says ‘my hands are tied’ as Nationals mull blockbuster trade

Soto says ‘my hands are tied’ as Nats mull blockbuster trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

If the Nationals trade Juan Soto, he’s putting that decision squarely on their shoulders.

Washington reportedly offered its star right fielder a 15-year, $440 million contract extension earlier this month but he declined, prompting the team to entertain the possibility of trading him at the Aug. 2 deadline. Soto spoke with reporters Monday during the MLB All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles and said he had no control over whether the Nationals trade him.

“For me right now, I’m just concentrating about baseball,” Soto said. “Can’t do anything about it. I have my hands tied. I’m just gonna play as hard as I can and play baseball and forget about anything else. I don’t make the decisions…If they wanna make the decisions, I gotta just pack my stuff and go. If not, I’m gonna keep playing baseball as hard as I can.”

Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, has made it standard practice for his star players not to make counter offers during negotiations. That puts the onus on the Nationals to bid against themselves until they offer a deal to Soto’s satisfaction.

While $440 million would represent the largest contract ever signed in North American sports, the $29.3 million average annual value would rank just 20th in MLB history. Soto almost certainly would garner a higher AAV on the free-agent market, but the Nationals’ consideration of trading him reflects how talks have reached a price point they may not be willing to cross — especially with Boras unlikely to ditch his strategy by countering.

Should the Nationals decide to trade him, Soto would garner a historic return. No player in their age-23 season or younger has ever been traded after already accruing more than 20 career WAR. He remains under team control through the 2024 season and, even after a slow start, enters the All-Star Break with a .901 OPS and 20 home runs this year.

That the Nationals’ latest offer became public irked Soto, who typically defers any questions about contract talks to Boras.

“It feels pretty tough, pretty frustrating, because I try to keep my stuff private,” Soto said. “Don’t try to throw stuff out there. It feels pretty bad, but at the end of the day we just got to keep playing. It don’t matter what’s happened.”

With the Nationals’ potential team sale looming, the possibility of a deal being reached can’t yet be ruled out. Even so, the club is closer to trading him that it’s ever been. Soto believes that decision is out of his hands.

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