Juan Soto turned down an offer from the Washington Nationals for $350 million. Nothing less. The player himself admitted the news that journalist Enrique Rojas published on ESPN. And that recognition makes it possible to ask, then, how much is the Dominican star really worth?

It doesn’t matter that in 2021 he earned “only” $8.5 million. The base price is, for now, the one the Nats just set.

There is already at least one team that would consider it fair to pay $350 million for 13 seasons to the skilled left-handed slugger. And it’s clear that he and his agent think they’re worth more.

But how much more?

Only two players have contracts greater than the one that Washington has proposed to Soto.

Mike Trout’s actually encompasses two different firms. To his original 2014 deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, he added an extension that in 2019 made him the highest-paid player in history. That pact began with the two years remaining from the previous one and rose to the bicoca of 426 million in 12 tournaments, until 2030.

Mookie Betts follows him, with 10 championships and 360 million dollars with the Los Angeles Dodgers, until 2031. And Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor appears in third position, with 341 million for 10 games with the New York Mets, also until 2031.

But it is the owner of the fourth square, the Dominican Fernando Tatis, perhaps the most direct reference for Soto. Because Trout, Betts and Lindor were players with long journeys, who accumulated achievements in bulk.

Tatis was just 22 years old when the San Diego Padres gave him a 14-year, $340 million contract in 2021. He was gearing up for his third season in the big leagues and was — still is — one of the Big Show’s most iconic young faces.

Soto is part of that group, which also includes stars such as Venezuelan Ronald Acuña Jr. or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from Quisquey.

Tatis and Acuña (who in 2019 signed for 8 seasons and 100 million with the Atlanta Braves) decided to secure the bag at the time, one with more luck than the other.

Soto, on the other hand, is risking an injury taking him off the brilliant path he is on today. Or that a natural decline in his performance will drive him away from the empyrean he currently occupies. Not all junior superstars are for the rest of his career.

“Yes, they made me the offer a couple of months ago, before the strike we have in baseball,” the West Indian told ESPN. “But right now, my representatives and I think the best option is to go year to year and wait until I’m a free agent. My agent, Scott Boras, is in control of that situation.”

And you know what Boras’s reputation is. Several of the top contracts in the industry have been negotiated for him. And he likes to wait for six years of service from his representative, then go all out on the open market.

Soto causes enthusiasm for his talent. Even if his defense isn’t elite, his hitting is. Since his rookie debut in 2019, at age 19, he has never dropped below a .929 OPS. He hits for high averages, he gets on base with a frequency reminiscent of Barry Bonds, he can hit home runs. And the way he takes turns just hints that he’ll keep his rise for a while longer.

He still has three years of arbitration left. It means he will be able to be a free agent at the end of the 2024 tournament. And he will have blown out 27 candles on the cake when he goes out in search of that mega contract that awaits him.

Maybe Soto has what it takes to top Trout’s deal and even become the first major leaguer to get a $500 million deal. But every birthday he adds will weigh against him. Because the 13 seasons the Nationals are offering him right now will range from age 27 to age 39 if he makes it as a free agent, and that would be well past his most productive age. In due course, that will also be a negotiating factor.

For now, it is already known what the minimum value of this Dominican with gushing talent is. It is above 350 million, at least. We’ll see how far he goes and how far Boras can take him.

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