At 23, he already has a World Series ring, a batting title, and a second-place finish in the 2021 National League MVP voting.
Naturally, the Nationals would be very, very interested in keeping him in Washington for at least the next decade.
The problem is that Soto is already three seasons away from free agency.
And, because he has been so good in his first three years as a major leaguer, he is currently projected to make around $16 million in 2022, his first season of arbitration.
It goes without saying that his projected salaries in the second and third year of arbitration could break some records.
That’s why the Nats would be smart to sign him for the long-term.
Paving The Way For A Monster Extension
One would think they were saving money for a potential Soto extension; paving the way for it.
But the amount of money could be astronomical.
Francisco Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million deal before Opening Day last season, as a 27-year-old shortstop with several dominant seasons.
Soto doesn’t have such a long track record, but he has had three absolutely dominant offensive seasons (much better than Lindor, considering his career slash line is .301/.432/.550 and the infielder’s is .278/.343/.478) and is five years younger (Lindor is now 28).
Young stars are extremely expensive.
Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year extension with the San Diego Padres that will keep him there for 14 years in exchange for $340 million.
Tatis is about the same age as Soto, so the deals, if Soto is offered one and signs, could be comparable.
Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr are the 1st duo of players, under the age of 23 at the end of the regular season, to both finish top-3 for MVP in the same league in the same year
THESE YOUNG PLAYERS!
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 9, 2021
However, Soto should earn a higher contract than the Padres’ star because San Diego bought some of Tatis Jr.’s pre-arbitration years.
In the case of Soto, Washington will already have to cover expensive arbitration years, which could push the deal closer to $400 million.
Yes: Soto’s next contract could be worth $400 million.
He Has The Look Of A $400 Million Player
He has proved for three seasons that there aren’t four or five better hitters than him in MLB.
In 2021, he slashed .313/.465/.534 with 29 homers, 111 runs, and 95 RBI on a lousy Nats team.
However, his performance has been similar since he made his MLB debut in 2018.
Working in his favor is that he is a star, he is extremely young, and he is starting to make serious money.
His contract, therefore, could look a lot like Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million deal, the one he signed in March 2019.
Trout was 27 when he signed that deal.
Soto is much younger, but Trout was also more proven at that point, somewhat offsetting the two factors and resulting, hypothetically, in a similar deal.
400 million for Soto?
— Martino (@MartinoPuccio) March 21, 2021
Will the Nationals sign their star to a monster extension?
Or will they fail to do so and trade him for a king’s ransom?
Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: he will get paid by someone.
It will most likely be by the Nationals, but if they don’t do it, someone will.
He is just too good.