In spite of the fact no one is talking about his July surge (.409/.567/.864, two doubles, six home runs, 16 walks, 4 Ks in 15 games and 60 PAs), and he is being asked if he will still be with the Washington Nationals after the trade deadline after reportedly turning down a 15-year/$440M extension offer and raising questions about whether the club would be better off dealing him, Juan Soto said he would still enjoy his All-Star experience.
“It won’t do any damage to my weekend,” he said last week. “I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I can. It feels a little uncomfortable at the beginning, but I will be fine.”
[ed. note - “Yes, the HR Derby/All-Star Game took place on Monday/Tuesday night, after the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, but he said weekend, and it wasn’t easy to find a suitable replacement for the word. So we left it. Moving on...”]
“He’s young,” manager Davey Martinez, who was part of the NL coaching staff for the All-Star Game, said last week when asked about the latest offer details leaking, “... and 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 it’s part of the game. 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.”
Talking on the All-Star media day, Soto told reporters himself he was not happy negotiations on a potential extension have gone public:
Soto also talked about the fact a team whose GM, Mike Rizzo, told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last month, “We are not trading Juan Soto,” is now reportedly considering trading Juan Soto.
“A couple weeks ago, they were saying they will never trade me,” Soto said during Monday’s All-Star media availability. “And now all these things come out. It feels really uncomfortable. You don’t know what to trust. At the end of the day, it’s out of my hands what decision they make.”
Juan Soto on the Nationals:— SNY (@SNYtv) July 18, 2022
"A couple weeks ago, they were saying they will never trade me. And now all these things come out. You don't know what to trust." pic.twitter.com/slevulbG9k
And Soto was still being asked about his future past August 2nd after he won the HR Derby on Monday night.
REPORTER: You had a busy day, you answered a lot of questions about your contract, you come out here and you win this thing in three rounds. How would you describe your day start to finish?
JUAN SOTO: (Laughs) I’m a lone survivor. I’ve been going through all this stuff and I’m still here standing up and with my chin up, all the time. And that shows you I can go through anything.
REPORTER: Especially with a performance like this tonight, you know that your name is going to be a big one these next couple weeks until the deadline. How are you going to sort of stay focused, and is this an example of how you do do that?
JUAN SOTO: Like I said, I just let my agent do whatever they need to do. All the conversations that they have, they going to have them with him. I’m just going to be here to play baseball. I’m just going to go to Nationals Park and give my hundred percent every day.
Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, stirred things back up on Tuesday.
He mentioned how the talks went public with reports on the 15-year/$440M offer, as it did with previously reported extension numbers, and joined Soto in saying it’s unfortunate.
“We want all of our discussions to be private,” Boras said, as quoted by SI.com’s Stephanie Apstein.
“We now know they’re not. And so I’m sure Juan will take that under advisement as he goes forward.”
He didn’t stop there (unfortunately?):
“All I know here is that the Atlanta Braves and Juan Soto played a game yesterday [Sunday]. The Atlanta Braves arrived here five hours earlier than Juan Soto did. You know why? Because their team chartered a plane. Juan Soto had to fly on a commercial flight and wait in an airport for two hours and get here at 1:30 in the morning and have to compete in the Home Run Derby. And that’s something that Major League Baseball did not take care of and that’s something that the Washington Nationals did not take care of.”
The SI.com writer did add an interesting editorial aside after the quote above:
(Soto is the Nationals’ only All-Star. A team spokesman did not comment. Boras said he did not charter a plane himself because that would have been a violation of rules governing agent behavior.)
[ed. note - “The section quoted above has been updated and now includes a line from a team spokesman.”]:
In an update in @stephapstein’s story quoted in the write-up on Juan Soto at the ASG below, there is now a line from a team spokesman with the #Nats who “initially did not comment” on the Soto/chartering a plane angle: https://t.co/ouvwvmM9Yy pic.twitter.com/AUtBomNbv3— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) July 21, 2022
Yikes. [whispers: “This is going great.”] It’s turning into a who looks worse contest isn’t it? Also the fact that the club is for sale, and trying to sign a generational-ish talent to a long-term, big-money extension, only adds to the layers of drama playing out between the two sides now.
Soto probably wants to know who he’s signing a decade and a half-long extension with, at a time when the club is undergoing an organizational reboot as they try to build another club which can compete for division titles and World Series championships again.
“For me, this is the team I’ve been since, what, 2015, I’ve been with this team, and I feel good with it, and when I get to know the city more, it feels great. Why should I need to change?” Soto asked rhetorically last weekend.
“I want to win every year, I don’t want to keep losing, I hate losing, but it is what it is. At the end of the day we’ve just got to go through it — because as they told me, we all have to go through those moments to win a championship.”
Are we having fun yet? Will it be two more weeks of this? Or two-plus years?
[ed. note - “If anyone cares, Soto went 0 for 3 in his second All-Star Game last night, playing from the third on after he came on as a pinch hitter for Mookie Betts.”]
[ed. note - “Also, here’s Scott Boras talking about why the Nationals’ 15-year/$440M deal is not adequate.”]