Toronto Blue Jays News

Soto’s rejected offer won’t help the Blue Jays in the future

Aug 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) talks with Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) talks with Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) during the fifth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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On Wednesday we learned that Juan Soto reportedly turned down a 13-year, 350 million offer by the Nationals, which is quite the development. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that this news will hurt the Blue Jays in an indirect way, at least in the future.

I say that because the Blue Jays have a difficult task ahead of them at some point over the next four years if they intend to extend one or both of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. The 22 and 23 year olds were first time All-Stars in 2021, and Vlad Jr. ended up finishing 2nd in AL MVP voting. They both had impressed at various points throughout their first two seasons in the big leagues, but last year was truly a coming out party for the emerging duo.

As things stand right now the pair is under contract with the Blue Jays through the 2025 season, when they will both be eligible for free agency. Of course, I’m sure Ross Atkins and the front office would like to push that expiration date a lot further into the future, and I’m sure efforts have already been made in that direction.

It’s going to be easier said than done though, and the latest development from Soto isn’t going to help Atkins’ cause one little bit. I had already worried that Fernando Tatis’ 14-year, 330 million dollar pact with the Padres signed last year was going to raise the floor for both Guerrero Jr. and Bichette, and I’m afraid this Soto news is even worse to that end.

The difference is that Tatis Jr. hadn’t even played 162 big league games yet when he signed his massive extension in San Diego. He impressed about as much as you could possibly ask from a young player, but the Padres were taking a bit of a risk by committing to him for the long haul after such a small sample size.

When it comes to Soto, it’s easy to forget that he’s still just 23 years old, which is the same age as Bichette and a year older than Guerrero Jr. In his case, he already has four seasons of elite production under his belt, which started when he was still just a teenager. He’s considerably more experienced than Tatis Jr. or even what Vlad and Bo have under their big league belts, and while it seems absurd that he would turn down such a gigantic contract offer, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Nationals threw an additional bag of money at him at some point either.

What does this mean for the Blue Jays? Well, it means the market for the truly elite young players is probably going to rise even more than it already has over the last few years, and that’s only going to make it more difficult to keep the dynamic duo of Guerrero Jr. and Bichette in Toronto beyond the next four seasons. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but I think the Blue Jays will have to both prepare to spend more than they planned in order to get it done, or possibly even re-think some of their long-term strategy. Soto’s situation isn’t going to impact anything in 2022, at least I wouldn’t think so, but that could change in a few years.

Next. Five options to fill out the 2022 rotation. dark

For now I wouldn’t be surprised if Guerrero Jr. and Bichette preferred to wait and see what kind of market a guy like Soto could set, especially because they are so close in age. The Blue Jays’ duo may not have quite the same track record, but they’re not far behind, and I would argue that they’re considered among the very top tier of young players in baseball, even if that could be a tick behind Soto. If the Blue Jays intend to keep them around then it’s going to be a very expensive venture, and after the latest news from Soto and the Nationals, the price may have just gone up a little more.

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