- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 16, 2022

Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals may be headed for a break-up.

The Nationals are reportedly open to offers for their two-time All-Star outfielder after Soto turned down the team’s latest offer of 15 years and $440 million, according to The Athletic. The Nationals 

But there’s no rush to try and move Soto. The 23-year-old still has two years on his contract with the Nationals after this season.

Still, news of the contract leak didn’t sit right with Soto, who said the outfielder preferred to keep the negotiations private.

“It feels really bad to see stuff going out like that because I’m a guy who, my side, keeps everything quiet and try to keep it to them and me,” Soto told reporters Saturday before the Nationals played Atlanta. “They just make the decision and do what they need to do.”

The Nationals’ offer would have made Soto the highest-paid player in baseball, but Yahoo News reported that the annual sum he would earn — just north of $29 million — was less impressive than the deals given to some of the club’s previous superstar counterparts, such as pitcher Max Scherzer.

Soto is hitting .249 with 19 homers and 42 RBIs this season. He is set to play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Soto is a two-time All-Star who finished second in the NL MVP voting last season. 

“He’s young,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “I’m sure when things like that come out that are personal, it bothers people. I’m sure it bothers him a lot. But like I said, he’s got to understand that this is part of the game, right? We’ve all been through it at some point in time. But he’s got to go out there and remember why he’s here, and that’s to help us win games and I know he’ll do that.”

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said last month that the team was committed to building around Soto. But after their third offer was rejected, executives are losing confidence they’ll get a deal done, according to The Athletic.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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