News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Sept. 16, 2019: The Washington Nationals know they have one of the league’s most exciting young players on their hands in Juan Soto, and the Dominican looks set for a huge payday as the franchise attempts to tie down the 20-year old to a long-term deal.
In just his second season in the big leagues, Soto has established himself as, possibly, the best youngster in world baseball, racking up an incredible 7.1 Wins Above Replacement and hitting 55 home runs – all before his 21st birthday. A better hitter of the ball hasn’t been seen in Washington for some time and the improvements he’s made in the outfield show the effort he is putting in to work on all aspects of his game.
While the Nationals know they are going to have to spend big money to keep Soto in Washington, they’ll also be well aware the best time to get the youngster to commit himself to the franchise is right now. The older he gets, the higher the contract he’s going to want. That was certainly a factor in NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves, who signed Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies to eight and seven-year contracts, respectively. Acuna will make $100 million over the next eight years, while Albies will earn $35 million.
Soto will be looking for a deal that could be worth more than Acuna and Albies’ combined salaries. While the Braves duo signed for Atlanta as international free agents low-end contracts, Soto signed a deal worth $1.5 million when he signed, giving him more freedom to weigh up his options. Faced with a long-term deal that would pay in the hundreds of millions, many young players are quick to sign a contract and the financial security it brings. Soto may feel he has more time to decide where he wants to spend the majority of his career.
The Nationals might not be one of the top teams in the league, with the latest MLB odds on bet365 putting them at +1000 to top the National League. But with a number of exciting youngsters coming through, led by Soto, the Santo Domingo-born left-hander may feel there is no better place for him to be. Last season it was evident that the Nats had something special in their ranks in the shape of Soto, but this year has proven beyond any doubt that the Dominican may well be the most important signing the franchise makes in a generation.
As well as his talent, Soto has also shown his determination and will. Against the Mets earlier this month, Soto was hit on the elbow in the third innings, and he responded by hitting a stunning home run in the fourth and singling in his final appearance at the plate. It would have been easy to sit out the rest of the game after taking the nasty blow, but the 20-year old proved he is made of tougher stuff, ending the night 3 for 4 with a double, a home run, three RBIs and three runs to his name.