Sources: Washington Nationals open to listening to Juan Soto trade offers after $440M contract rejected

The Washington Nationals are willing to listen to trade offers for Juan Soto after the star outfielder rejected their most recent long-term offer, league sources confirmed to ESPN on Saturday.

Sources said Soto turned down a 15-year, $440 million offer that would have been the largest contract in baseball history.

Soto had told ESPN earlier this year that he had declined a 13-year, $350 million offer before the offseason lockout. He is eligible to become a free agent after the 2024 season.

But according to The Athletic, which first reported on the most recent rejected contract offer and the Nationals being open to listening to potential trades, some team officials no longer believe they will be able to reach any long-term deal with Soto.

If Soto were to consider taking an extension from the Nationals, it would be one of significant length as well as an average annual value among the highest in the game, sources told ESPN. The $29.3 million per year in the Nationals' offer would rank only 15th among players based on their 2022 salaries.

Asked about his contract situation before Saturday's game against the Atlanta Braves, Soto told reporters that he trusts his agent to handle negotiations and will focus on playing baseball.

The decision to listen to potential trades for Soto represents a change of plans for the Nationals, after president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo said last month that the team would not move the 23-year-old star.

"We are not trading Juan Soto," Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan on June 1. "We made it clear to his agent and to the player."

The expected return in a Soto trade would jump-start a Nationals rebuild. They are 31-63 at the All-Star break, sitting in last place in the National League East by 27½ games and on track for a third straight losing season after winning the World Series in 2019.

Soto noted his disappointment with the team's struggles, telling reporters Saturday, "I don't want to keep losing."

Another issue affecting Soto's future in Washington is the potential sale of the team by the Lerner family, who have owned the Nationals since 2006. The Lerners said in April that they are exploring the possibility of selling the Nationals and had hired a firm to find potential investors to buy part or all of the franchise.

Named an All-Star for the second straight season, Soto is hitting a career-low .250 in 2022 with 20 home runs and 43 RBIs in 91 games. He is set to compete in Monday's Home Run Derby.

The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 2.

Information from ESPN's Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers was used in this report.