Even with the MLB trade deadline more than two months away, there are already Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022. With the Washington Nationals off to a terrible start and clearly going nowhere this season, there are rumblings that the team could trade Soto this summer.
With Soto being under team control for two years beyond this season, Soto being traded would be a little surprising and could be a monumental story if it ends up happening.
Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022
Rumors of Soto being traded come after Soto declined a 13-year, $350 million contract prior to the MLB lockout. Seeing as he’s still only 23 and already one of the biggest stars in the game, Soto’s career earnings could far surpass a $350 million contract. In fact, Soto’s contract length could surpass those 13 years if he were to hit the open market after the 2024 season. If Soto wasn’t willing to accept 13 years and $350 million from Washington, the Nats are surely feeling as if they will have to trade him at some point.
If they decide to trade him this summer with two and a half years left before he’s scheduled to hit free agency, they could demand a massive price for him.
Door open for an extension
Despite the Juan Soto trade rumors in 2022, it’s important not to jump the gun and assume he’ll be traded. After all, Soto is just 23 and young players signing a massive extension early in their career is very much in vogue right now. Ronald Acuna Jr. signed an eight-year, $100 million deal with the Braves the year after he won Rookie of the Year. Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million deal with the Padres two years into his career. Wander Franco signed an 11-year, $182 million deal with the budget-conscious Rays with less than a year in the big leagues under his belt.
Much like Acuna, Tatis, and Franco, Soto is already a bonafide star early in his career. If he wanted to sign an extension with the Nationals, he wouldn’t have to worry about money or playing for a contract for the rest of his career.
With others following the same path, Soto could still change his mind and re-open negotiations with the team. Of course, Soto doesn’t need to rush, as he’s making $17.1 million this year and is likely to make even more than that in his last two years of being arbitration-eligible before hitting the open market after the 2024 season.
In everyone’s best interest?
Of course, the Nationals might have a different perspective on the situation. From Washington’s point of view, if Soto declined a 13-year, $350 million extension, he probably won’t accept an offer that they can afford. That’s why trading him this summer could be an appealing option. The Nats don’t look like a team that’s going to be competitive anytime soon. If they keep Soto until he hits free agency, he’ll likely put up big numbers and get paid a lot of money on a losing team, which would be wasteful.
But if the Nationals can find a taker for Soto this summer, the price they can demand in terms of prospects could help to accelerate their rebuilding efforts. In that sense, Soto is worth more on the trade market than he is on their roster.
Meanwhile, the team trading for him, even if they pay a massive price, would have Soto for at least two and a half years before he hits free agency. From Soto’s perspective, he’d presumably be on a winning team and would still have the option of signing an extension with that team or waiting until free agency to explore the open market. In that sense, the Nats trading Soto could be what’s best for everybody.
Where’s the destination?
If the Juan Soto trade rumors for 2022 turn out to be true, where will he end up? Without question, there will be Soto to the Yankees rumors.
The Bronx Bombers are big spenders and one of the few teams that have the money to give Soto the kind of extension that he’s worth. Plus, while the Yankees are off to a great start in 2022, since they haven’t won a World Series since 2009, they could be willing to pay whatever price it takes to trade for Soto if they think it can deliver a championship.
The Blue Jays are another team that could make a push for Soto. Toronto has a wealth of young talent, some in the team’s farm system and some in the big leagues. The Jays are also lacking a left-handed bat, making Soto the perfect complement to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is also among the best sluggers in baseball.
Likewise, the Padres and White Sox are two teams that are loaded with young talent at the major league level that could be appealing to the Nationals. Adding three or four young players who are already in the big leagues and a few more prospects could be the type of trade offer that the Nationals covet if they decide to trade Soto. The Padres and White Sox would both be good fits in that sense.
Finally, the Mariners could be a wild card if Soto his the trade market this summer. If there’s one thing that GM Jerry Dipoto loves doing, it’s making trades. The Mariners also have a healthy farm system and several young players with high-end who have made it to the big leagues already, most notably outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Surely, Seattle could put together a package that would interest the Nats, as could other teams, which is why there is a distinct possibility that Soto could be traded this summer.