The recent eye-popping 14-year, $340 million contract for 22-year-old Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has sparked the questions: Who will be the next to ink such a monster deal, and which homegrown players will sign massive contracts to stay with their original teams? Both can be asked of Washington's two National League Most Valuable Player Award candidates, who addressed their futures on Wednesday following the Nats’ first full-squad workout of Spring Training.
“I would love to play my entire career here. I would love for him to play his entire career here,” Turner said. “But we'll see. Those are big, big questions, and you’ve kind of got to take it day by day. If it happens, that would be special.”
What’s in the future for Soto?
After Tatis signed his deal, the baseball world buzzed with speculation over whether Soto would be next. The 22-year-old became the youngest player to win the NL batting title last season, and the slugging left fielder was recently ranked the No. 5 player in all of baseball by MLB Network.
“For me, right now I’m playing baseball,” Soto said in regard to a potential contract. “I forget about it. I’m happy for [Tatis], he got his deal, but for me, my mind is in baseball. Since I got here, I tried to disconnect my mind from the world and just try to enjoy it with my teammates, to come here to the field and play baseball with my teammates.”
Soto avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility by agreeing to an $8.5 million deal for 2021. He still has four seasons remaining before the prospect of free agency.
“We signed, developed and brought Juan to the big leagues in very, very short order and at a very young age,” general manager Mike Rizzo said last week. “We see him as hopefully a National for a long, long time. But we’re still in the early stages of discussions. We had some discussions with him on a long-term deal last Spring Training, and they didn’t go very far. Since the COVID season of 2020, we really haven’t re-engaged on that. But our plans are to make an effort, like we’ve made efforts in the past to our really great young players, to keep him in a National uniform for a long, long time.”
What’s in the future for Turner?
Turner has played all six of his Major League seasons in Washington after being acquired from San Diego as a Minor Leaguer in 2015. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top shortstops in the game, as well as a dangerous hitter and baserunner atop the Nationals’ batting order.
“I've said it in the past, I've always liked it here and don't think the grass is greener on the other side, necessarily,” Turner said. “But it's a business, and things change. But as of right now, I would love to play here for my entire career. I love it here. I love the atmosphere and the ballclub that Rizzo and the coaching staff have put together every single year. Those talks have happened in the past, and hopefully they'll happen in the future. But as of right now, we're taking it day by day, I guess.”
The Nationals have also expressed their desire for Turner to be a long-time member of the organization. The 27-year-old agreed to a $13 million deal this winter to avoid arbitration in his third year of eligibility.
“I've always told them, he's one of the most exciting players in the game. He really is,” manager Dave Martinez said. “The things that he can do out there, the sky is the limit. The good thing is he wants to get better, he wants to be the best. … I thought he was a candidate to be an MVP last year, and he's only going to get better.”