Sean Pendergast

Four Houston-Related Thoughts on OF Juan Soto Rejecting $440 Million Offer From Nationals

Juan Soto turning down $440 million from Washington puts Alvarez's reasonable deal into perspective/
Juan Soto turning down $440 million from Washington puts Alvarez's reasonable deal into perspective/ Photo by Jack Gorman
In Houston, we all know that we are smack dab in the middle of rebuilds with our professional football and basketball teams. Both teams — the Texans and the Rockets — have rosters flush with young players, and nowhere to go but up. Also, both teams accelerated their respective rebuilds by trading foundational players, James Harden and Deshaun Watson, for multiple first round picks.

Because the Astros have been so supremely successful for the better part of the last seven years, we forget that there are actually MLB teams that find themselves in a Rockets/Texans-style situation. Ironically enough, the one MLB team that is now front and center in a pending tear down is the team that beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series, the Washington Nationals, who currently own one of the worst records in baseball at 31-63.

On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, reported that Nationals All Star outfielder Juan Soto, 23 years old, rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract extension offer that, theoretically, would have tied Soto to the Nationals for the rest of his career. The guts it takes to say "NO" to a guarantee of over $400 million aside, this news has major ripple effects that reverberate all the way from D.C. to right here in Houston.

Here are a few Houston-centric thoughts on this Soto development:

I respect it. At least Soto didn’t sign and then demand a trade
The overwhelming consensus on social media on Saturday, after Rosenthal disclosed his report on Soto, was that this is a pretty ballsy move by Soto, and that it's quite clear he has no desire to toil on a poverty franchise like Washington throughout his prime years. Soto wants to play somewhere else, and he will likely now be traded. More on that in a minute. Let me say this about Soto's business approach — I respect it. I mean, at least he isn't signing the contract, locking in HUGE guaranteed money, and then demanding a trade four months into his deal like some in other sports. Yes, I am looking right at you, Deshaun Watson and Kevin Durant.

NO, Astro fans, we shouldn't want to trade for Juan Soto
So Soto is about to get traded, and a little like Watson, whose availability as an elite, young, franchise quarterback was somewhat unprecedented, so too is the availability of a player like Soto in MLB, at age 23. He will cost a king's ransom, as speculated by ESPN.com's Jeff Passan:
Let me head this off right now, for you Astro fans — NO, the Astros should not be in on Juan Soto trade talks. Right now, their minor league system can't afford to empty the chamber on one player, albeit a great one like Soto. Also, if Soto's goal is to land a 10-plus year contract extension someday, we know the Astros aren't going to play in that space (see: Correa, Carlos). Let someone else dish out a ridiculous 10 or 12 year deal on this player.

What will Kyle Tucker get if he plays it out like Soto?
Another reason for the Astros to stay out of the Soto sweepstakes is that they've got expensive business of their own to attend to with guys already on this roster, most notably outfielder Kyle Tucker. Tucker is a couple years older than Soto, but is still a young player (25 years old). The Astros tried to do an extension with Tucker earlier this season, presumably for way less than 10 years, and Tucker passed on it. Tucker doesn't have the sizzle of Soto, and perhaps not as high a ceiling, but Tucker is an All Star and really good two-way player. Soto's contractual situation is worth watching for Astro fans, because it is most certainly being watched by Tucker and his camp.

This really puts into perspective how great Yordan’s contract extension is
While the Astros were unable to get a deal done with Tucker to lock him up for several future seasons, they were able to accomplish that with All Star DH Yordan Alvarez, who is in the running for AL MVP this season as he nurses a hand injury, currently. Alvarez's extension was a very reasonable six years for $115 million, and it bought out all of Alvarez's arbitration years along with his first three seasons of potential free agency. When you see a guy like Soto REJECTING $440 million, it really hammers home (a) how team friendly the Alvarez deal is, and (b) how comforting it is to not have to worry about Alvarez being here beyond his arbitration years, which would have ended after the 2025 season.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast