It doesn’t sound like an extension is possible
It’s not every day that a superstar hits the trade market, and it’s even more rare when they are still just 23 years old. That’s the case for Juan Soto, and naturally it makes a big difference in his value to any acquiring team.
The reason that the Nationals have reportedly decided to shop Soto is because he has turned down multiple extension offers from Washington, including the recent reports of a 15-year, 440 million dollar offer. It would make sense for the Nationals to lock him up for the long-term as the centre piece of their rebuild, but it’s understandable that they’re shopping him if he’s not planning to stick around.
Soto has 2.5 seasons before he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, and while his camp hasn’t come out and said they’ll refuse to sign an extension, the wording being used by his agent, Scott Boras, suggests that testing the open market is likely part of the plan. From Boras’ interview with “The Show: A NY Post Baseball Podcast”:
"“… remember, you get Juan Soto for one, two, three postseasons runs and have complete control over him”"
If that’s the case, you have to look at Soto as a rental, even if the possibility of an extension still exists. Granted, this is a player that will be available for three playoff runs for whatever team acquires him, and that makes some sense for the “win-now” Blue Jays. That said, I also feel like it significantly shortens their window of contention. Even if they could re-sign Soto, they likely won’t have the money to do the same with all of their young stars including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah, Alejandro Kirk, and more. Making this kind of move would be about heavily betting on the next three seasons, never mind what the deal would do to the farm system.
It’s possible that Soto and Boras entertain an extension with a new team should he be traded, as they mentioned other factors like the possible sale of the Nationals, and the state of the rebuild in Washington as other reasons why the extension talks ultimately didn’t work out. However, at the end of the day I expect that Soto will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2024 season regardless of where he ends up.
Is it worth it for the Blue Jays to potentially shrink their window of contention to three years? I’m not so sure.