Maybe all the kids who come to Washington will become real major league players. But based on what usually happens with prospects, if two of them succeed, chances are it’s going to be a lot.
However, here’s the only question that matters: Is there a chance that one of them will become Juan Soto? The answer to that is pretty clear no.
Barry Svrluga: The deal with Juan Soto is heartbreaking. Now the hope can begin.
Stupid might be a word to describe this trade but I will choose selfish. It’s exceedingly selfish of the Lerner family planning to cash their chips on the franchise for somewhere north of 2 billion dollars sometime before the end of the year. (The Lerners paid $450 million to buy it 16 years ago.)
Apparently, the Lerners don’t feel guilty about abandoning their fanbase to a truly awful team for at least two more years. The Nationals won the 2019 World Series with Soto playing a key role. They get a pass for 26-34 in 2020 because that was baseball’s Covid season; judging someone this season is unfair.
But they were 65-97 a year ago after their first sell-off in stars and salaries, and they’re on track to lose 100+ games this season. Before Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets, they have the worst record in baseball – 35-69 – with only the Oakland Athletics within shouting distance. Will next season or the season after be better? Unlikely. Maybe, if Everyone If the best-case scenarios come true, they’ll be good again in 2025. By then, Washington fans will almost certainly have had five bad — or terrible — seasons.
But will you stop by and get season tickets for next spring? Serious?
The excuse will be that Boras and Soto forced this move. Boras is vicious, and his only concern is Boras. When he recently turned down a $440 million offer, it was all about Boras’ ego. He wants Soto to become baseball’s first $500 million player he can brag about it. He’ll almost certainly get Soto into free agency after the 2024 season and get Soto that $500 million — or more.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo always thought Boras would let him loose at crucial moments because he let him decide Stephen Strasburg’s inning count in 2012. He quoted Boras as saying, “Rizzo and I put this team together.”
Boras tried to deny this quote until Wise played the tape to him.
The bottom line at Boras is always the bottom line. He maneuvered Rizzo into adding a release clause to Strasbourg’s contract, which came into effect in autumn 2019 after a rarely healthy and brilliant season. After becoming World Series MVP, Strasburg exited the seven-year, $175 million contract he signed in 2016 and received a new seven-year, $245 million contract.
Since then, Strasbourg has won one game in three seasons. The question is not why he got the contract in 2019, but why he was given the opt-out in 2016 despite his injury history.
But what happened on Tuesday is none of Rizzo’s business. Without the Lerners’ approval or, more likely, without their insistence, he could not have made a deal – could not have made it.
What should they have done instead of trading with Soto? It’s simple: say to Boras, “Okay, Scott, you won; What number do we need to get a new deal with Juan?” When Boras responded that Soto wouldn’t sign regardless of what the Lerners offered, say so publicly. Out Boras for what he is, again – and quiet Don’t trade with Soto. Hand him over to the new owners for the two years until he can become a free agent and let them take care of the migraine that is Boras.
The Lerners owed that to their fanbase, not a possibly empty promise that things will get better in a few years.
Nats trade Juan Soto for Padres, seismic move for the sport and franchise
A year ago they traded Max Scherzer, who had just turned 37 but was still one of the best pitchers in the game, and Trea Turner, an All-Star who had just turned 28, because they didn’t want to pay her big money — Scherzer at the end of last season, Turner at the end of this season. Dealing with Scherzer was a mistake; The Turner trade was insane. The team also gave up Kyle Schwarber for a pitching prospect named Aldo Ramirez, who won’t pitch an inning in 2022 due to elbow problems. Schwarber is now in Philadelphia, leading the National League at home games.
If the Turner trade was insane, the Soto trade is beyond insane. This has become what the Nationals are, the team that loses perennial All-Stars: Soto, Scherzer, Turner, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper. It’s not like the Lerners own small markets who need to trade with players instead of paying them big money; this isn’t Oakland, Kansas City, or Cincinnati.
They are among baseball’s wealthiest owners. Yes, the Nationals suffered from the ridiculous MASN deal they were forced into when the team came to Washington. But that’s not why they lost all those players. It’s because the Lerners have chosen not to pay them.
There are few exceptions to this rule, most notably Strasburg, who to date hasn’t been worth a penny for the deal the Nats forced him into.
It was also a mistake to include Josh Bell, Washington’s second-best hitter, in the Soto deal. Bell will be a free agent this fall but might have been willing to re-sign. If the Nats wanted to trade him, I think they almost certainly could have dealt with another competitor better.
The oft-heard refrain from Nats apologists this summer has been this: wait and see how the prospects won last summer play out. So far, the results have been mixed at best. Now there’s a new group of prospects being teased all over town. We’ll see if any of them become stars.
What we do know for sure is that Soto – like Scherzer and Turner – is a star, a superstar. And like Elvis, he left the building.