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Juan Soto contract extension ‘a longshot’ for Washington Nationals, $425 million report inaccurate

Matt Johnson
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals star Juan Soto is one of the best players in baseball. While he will eventually become one of the highest paid MLB players, it seems reports of a potential contract extension aren’t accurate.

The Nationals attempted to sign their 23-year-old outfielder to a lucrative extension this winter. Washington reportedly offered the All-Star outfielder a $350 million extension before the lockout, a proposal he rejected.

Related: Evaluating 4 potential Juan Soto trade landing spots

Soto, already a two-time selection of the All-MLB First Team, is widely viewed as one of the best hitters in baseball. He’s already hit 112 home runs since making his debut in 2018 with many confident the outfielder is a future Hall of Famer.

On Thursday, reports surfaced that the Nationals made progress in negotiations with Soto. Washington reportedly upped its offer to $425 million over 13 years, with a deal seemingly possible. However, it appears that the information was inaccurate.

Related: Washington Nationals shut down top prospects, here’s why

According to Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, numerous sources made clear reports of a $425 million proposal were inaccurate. While there are reportedly active conversations about a long-term deal, the chance of an extension being signed is viewed as a long shot.

  • Juan Soto career stats: .290/.424/.534, 112 home runs, 344 RBI, .957 OPS

Impact of Washington Nationals sale on Juan Soto contract talks

MLB: Washington Nationals at Texas Rangers
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While the Washington Nationals want to sign the face of their franchise to a long-term deal, two critical factors are standing in the way. Unfortunately for the fans, neither issue is going to be resolved anytime soon.

Related: Washington Nationals want $3 billion for team sale

As the Lerner family weighs potential offers to buy the team, even before the club is officially put up for sale, it influences contract negotiations. While Soto being on the roster long-term is greatly beneficial to the franchise value, an extension worth $400-plus million guaranteed is a massive financial commitment for any owner or a potential buyer.

It’s possible Washington’s contract talks with Soto’s representation is being done to keep gauging the price range of a potential deal. Given the Nationals have provided their financial records to potential buyers, the asking price of a Soto extension is pertinent information.

  • Juan Soto contract: $17.1 million salary (2022), arbitration-eligible through 2024

Scott Boras also plays a pivotal factor in this. The MLB agent is notorious for wanting the players he represents to hit the open market. It’s the only way to create a bidding war between multiple teams, which drives up the player’s salary and increases Boras’ share of the contract.

While Soto may be willing to sign a long-term extension, history suggests the star outfielder wants to test free agency. He would hit the open market as a 26-year-old, just entering the prime years of his career with Cooperstown-caliber projections and skyrocketing MLB revenue.

Fortunately, fans don’t have to worry about Soto being traded this year. Dealing him away would deliver a massive blow to the franchise value before a sale and it would also rob a club of a generational talent.