As much as the Nationals may or may not be interested in working out a long-term extension with star outfielder Juan Soto, the 23-year-old must be willing to sit down at the negotiating table if anything is going to get done to keep him in D.C.
In his first media scrum since the start of the offseason, Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, spoke with a throng of reporters at the GM Meetings in Carlsbad, California, on Wednesday and talked about the one factor Soto is focused on before extension talks can begin.
“Juan Soto wants to win,” Boras said in response to a question from The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty. “So the first thing that’s gonna have to happen is that he knows that he’s working with an ownership that’s gonna annually try to compete and win. And then I think once he knows that, then he’ll be ready to sit down and talk whenever they choose to talk.”
The Nationals are coming off a 65-97 season that saw the front office hold an all-out fire sale at the trade deadline, shipping out eight veteran players — several of whom contributed to the club’s 2019 World Series run — in exchange for a slew of prospects. Washington has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since winning it all two years ago and a postseason berth in 2022 appears unlikely.
Soto has three years left on his rookie contract before he reaches free agency. Though that leaves Washington plenty of time to work out a deal in theory, it only grows more difficult to lock up a homegrown star the closer he gets to free agency — particularly for Boras clients.
“I do have a record,” Boras said. “You name me my guys we’ve taken to free agency and I’ll name you a guy that we haven’t. What we do is we listen to players and we follow what players tell us to do because we work for them. Other than that, I just know that Juan has mentioned to me that he wants to make sure he’s working for a club that’s going to compete annually.”
It may take a record-setting offer to get Soto’s attention, but first the Nationals have to convince him they’re serious about avoiding a rebuild.