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The news that Washington Nationals star Juan Soto turned down a 15-year, $440 million deal from the organization took the baseball world by storm as one of the game’s best young talents was reportedly now available.
Along with the news of the rejection of the offer, The Athletic reported that the Nationals would now at least entertain trade offers for the two-time All-Star.
On Wednesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo appeared on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C., and confirmed that Soto did in fact turn down the Nationals’ offer of nearly half a billion dollars over 15 years.
“We’ve made three, what we feel, three above-market-value offers to Juan during this baseball season,” Rizzo told “The Sports Junkies” on Wednesday. “Two of them had come out before this one. Both of them were inaccurate in the terms and in kind of the guts of the contract. This one was accurate, and that led us to believe it was somebody obviously with real knowledge of the situation, where the other ones were inaccurate, so that information could be leaked out there by people who really don’t know or who are guessing or think they have the information.”
While Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan that he’d like to know who leaked the contract offer and subsequent denial by Soto, he made his respect for Soto very clear on Wednesday.
“This was the ultimate respectful interaction with Juan,” Rizzo said. “We’ve made him several offers. We’ve made sure that he knows that we want him here for the rest of his career. This is business. It’s not personal. This is business. He has the right to go to free agency, to turn down deals and that type of thing.”
“I respect that as a player that he has earned that right. But my relationship with the players is nothing if it’s not we’re man to man and we discuss things face to face. And when we offered Juan this contract with his agent’s knowledge, we told him when the deal was turned down, we said, ‘We’re going to have to explore all our options.’ And that’s all we’ve ever said.”
The Nationals do control Soto for two more years following the conclusion of the 2022 season, so an immediate trade is not a requirement. Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is Aug. 2.
“Again, am I upset with Juan Soto for doing that? No. I’ve known the kid since he’s 15 years old,” Rizzo said Wednesday. “I know him as good as anybody in the world, as good as his agency, as good as his teammates. I’ve been with him a long time, and he’s one of the most wonderful players that I’ve ever been around, and I respect the choices that he made. Again, this isn’t personal against Mike Rizzo or the Washington Nationals. This is business.”
Washington is reportedly asking for four or five top young prospects in return for Soto.