It was a heck of a few days for Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. First, shortly before arriving in Los Angeles for the All-Star festivities, it was reported he rejected a record contract from the Nats and that the team would now begin exploring trades for him.
Then, Soto won the Home Run Derby on Monday night in what was a thrilling battle against Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez. That led Dodgers fans to start thinking, “Hey, this guy looks damn good hitting dingers in our home park.”
Though Soto’s All-Star Game performance was a whole lot of nothing (he went 0-for-3 in the NL’s 3-2 loss), there was a moment that still endeared him to the home crowd.
At one point, when Soto was in center field, Dodgers fans in the crowd started chanting “Fu-ture Dod-ger!” in his direction. It was so loud, the slugger turned to acknowledge them … which now has gotten the buzz going even more.
What’s even better about this clip? Soto turns to the fans, gives a big smile, and doesn’t even realize the inning is over! He turns to get ready on defense only to see the rest of his teammates already at the dugout. There’s something mesmerizing about Dodger Stadium, isn’t there?
Juan Soto acknowledging Dodgers fans’ chants at the All-Star Game was awesome
Perhaps Andrew Friedman saw this clip and has begun building some trade packages for the Nationals? Though the topic has been a bit polarizing among Dodgers fans, there is a way this can work out nicely.
Soto is signed through the 2024 season, meaning the Dodgers would get 2.5 years of control over one of the game’s best players. A lot of the discourse from those opposing a trade suggests the Dodgers would be gutting their farm system and then would be unable to pay someone like Trea Turner, who has been an integral member of the team’s success this season.
Sure, the farm system would be gutted, but the Dodgers always find a way to recoup talent and accelerate it through the minors. Do fans really think Bobby Miller, Michael Busch, Andy Pages, Miguel Vargas and a few others are going to be the fabric of the next great Dodgers’ contender? It’s possible, but it’s so far from guaranteed.
Without a long-term commitment to Soto before 2024, the Dodgers will have the flexibility to continue building around the current group they have. And if they let underperformers like Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy go in the offseason, that’ll save them over $30 million.
There’s a way to make this work. And if Soto is smiling at the prospect of being a future Dodger … maybe you just have to do it.