Nationals’ Juan Soto wins 2022 Home Run Derby

Juan Soto

Juan Soto
Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — They cheered on Juan Soto at Dodger Stadium last night.

And rightly so. The Washington Nationals superstar left fielder won the HR Derby in impressive fashion.

He defeated Seattle Mariners rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez in the Finals to claim the crown. For his efforts, Soto won $1 million. It was only fitting that he was the man of the hour on a fine night to see the bombs leave the field at Chavez Ravine.

Ahead of the All-Star festivities, it was reported that Soto turned down a historic 15-year, $440 million contract extension with the Nationals.

This was also the reason why many made fun of Soto. Most rational people watched in disbelief as a 23-year-old would scoff at a nearly half a billion dollar contract.

It sounds obscene, disconcerting. Maybe “greedy” is a better word.

The Nationals didn’t have to. They have contractual control of Soto until the end of the 2024 season. That’s when Soto would be eligible to become a free agent.

As the August 2 trade deadline nears, it’s rumored that Soto could possibly be treated for a carry. After all, he is one of baseball’s most talented players. And did I mention he’s only 23?

Of course, the Derby was another feather in the cap of a career that has been stellar from the start. He has a lifetime average of .293 with 118 CF over his four and a half year career.

Soto became the second youngest to win the HR Derby, only Juan Gonzalez was a day younger when he won the Derby in 1993.

It’s amazing that he’s related to JuanGon.

Prior to the 2000 season, Gonzalez turned down a $140 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. He thought he would get more in free agency. At the time, it would have been the richest contract in MLB history.

The wheels fell out of Gonzalez’s career that season in Detroit. The following year, he signed a one-year, $10 million contract with Cleveland. He continued his career and never came close to the level of money offered by Detroit.

It’s a mistake Gonzalez no doubt regrets.

Soto betting on himself is not the same as Aaron Judge, who turned down the Yankees’ $213 million extension before the start of the season, betting on himself.

The judge estimated he was worth closer to $300 million and decided to bet on himself.

And so far, he’s been right. Going into the Midsummer Classic, Judge led the Majors with 33 home runs and is on course to hit over 60. And best of all, his Yankees are off to an incredible start and could set the record for most home runs. regular season wins. .

But Soto was not offered a deal below the market value of a current superstar.

Earlier this year, he told ESPN he turned down a 13-year, $350 million offer before the offseason lockdown.

Soto was named to the NL All-Star Team for the second straight season. He entered the game with a career low .250 with 20 home runs and 43 RBIs in 91 games.

Those aren’t exactly the numbers that justify backing up the Brinks truck and unloading stacks of cash.

But to be fair, he was impressive early on in his career. Former MLB manager and current MLB Network analyst Bo Porter calls him the best hitter in the game. Not to be sneezed at.

However, there is a huge risk when you bet on yourself after being offered the moon and the stars.

Either way, you cut it, $440 million is a lot of loot to counter it. Especially because you don’t know what the future holds. Soto could be seriously injured. It could fall into a bad patch that would make an owner reluctant to pay that amount of money.

Most long-term agreements don’t work. Albert Pujols took the extra money to outfit the Cardinals with the LA Angels. In 2012, Pujols obtained a pact of 240 million dollars over 10 years. He didn’t measure up.

It will probably be the same with Soto.

San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatís, Jr. has been offered a contract similar to Soto’s. He landed the 14-year, $340 million contract at age 22. It is the eighth richest contract in the history of the sport. And since signing that deal, Tatís has been hampered by injuries. It is the unknown of the sport. You just don’t know.

Ultimately, Soto has the right to do what he believes is best for himself and his family.

But if fans want to poke fun at him for wanting more, for being greedy, it’s hard to blame them.

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