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Nationals 'not trading Juan Soto,' says GM Mike Rizzo

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It doesn't sound like Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is going anywhere.

General manager Mike Rizzo said as much when discussing Soto's future with the team Wednesday.

He told The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan that the Nationals "are not trading Juan Soto" before MLB's Aug. 2 trade deadline.

"We made it clear to his agent and the player," Rizzo added. "We have every intention of building this team around Juan Soto. We've spoken to his agent many, many times — recently sat with him when he was in Washington D.C. — made it clear to him that we are not interested in trading him and I guess the rest of the world just doesn't believe it. But that's our position."

Complicating factors in Soto's future

The Nationals may have every intention of keeping Soto — who won't be a free agent until after the 2024 season — but that doesn't mean the 23-year-old wants to stay in Washington. Soto reportedly turned down a 13-year, $350 million extension prior to MLB's lockout earlier this year, according to ESPN.

"Yes, they made me an offer a few months ago, before the lockout," Soto said in February. "But right now, my agents and I think the best option is to go year by year and wait for free agency. My agent, Scott Boras, has control over the situation.

"Anyway, I still think of Washington as the place where I would like to spend the rest of my career, so we will see."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the team he's played with since 2018.

The Nationals want to squash the Juan Soto trade rumors. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals OF Juan Soto has been the subject of trade rumors all year. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Soto's trade value isn't very high right now, either. He's batting .232 with just nine home runs and 16 RBIs through 51 games after averaging .301 over his first four seasons, including a National League-best .351 in 2020.

It doesn't help, too, that the Nationals have been awful since winning the World Series in 2019 and traded way tons of veteran talent last year. Washington finished last in the NL East over the past two seasons and looks to be trending that way again after an 18-33 record prior to Wednesday's match with the Mets.

A possible sale of the team makes things even more complicated. Mark Lerner, the principal owner of the Nationals, told the Washington Post in April that he was exploring ownership changes that included the outright sale of the team. Nothing is imminent, but the Nationals look like a team searching for clarity and hope Soto can provide that.

That is, if Soto sticks around long enough to be a part of the rebuild Rizzo wants for the Nationals.

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