Rizzo, Boras disagree on Scherzer’s relevancy to Juan Soto contract talks

Rizzo, Boras disagree on Scherzer’s relevancy to Soto contract originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Juan Soto and Max Scherzer are on opposite ends of their respective careers, but the latter set a new precedent last offseason that could play a major role in determining the former’s future.

The Nationals offered Soto three separate contract extensions this season, President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday. He considered all three offers to be “above market value,” with the final offer representing a potential MLB record in total guarantees at 15 years and $440 million.

Soto declined all three. His agent Scott Boras said in a podcast interview with the New York Post last week that the $29.3 million average annual value of the deal was “really not even the range of consideration” when compared to other top contracts. No one has ever had a higher AAV than Scherzer, whose three-year New York Mets deal netted him $43.3 million per season.

For Rizzo, the Scherzer deal isn’t even worth mentioning.

“We’re talking about historic contracts with Juan and it’s hard to compare a 15-year deal, which 13 of those years are new money because we have him for two arbitration years, with a three-year contract for a 37-year-old pitcher,” Rizzo said. “It’s apples and oranges, to me, and we certainly would give Juan Soto a Max Scherzer-type of deal after his arbitration years are up but that wouldn’t work, either.”

At 23 years old, Soto is looking for a contract with more long-term security than Scherzer’s juiced pact with the Mets. Whether that deal comes with the Nationals, a team that acquires him in a trade or the highest bidder in free agency two and a half years from now, Soto is going to command top dollar in both total value and AAV.

The highest AAV for any contract of 10 or more years belongs to New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who signed a 10-year, $360 million deal over the 2019-20 offseason. Washington’s third offer didn’t come close to that $36 million AAV, especially considering Soto is already in line to make about $50 million in arbitration the next two years.

Boras compared Soto’s situation to that of Alex Rodríguez, another one of his clients. Rodríguez hit free agency at 25 years old and shattered the MLB records for both total value ($252 million) and AAV ($25.2 million). Those records have long been surpassed, but Soto will be a free agent at 26 with a chance to construct an even more impressive resume than Rodríguez.

Setting the AAV record would mean surpassing Scherzer, who holds that title over the second-place Cole by a whopping $7.3 million per year.

“That’s not the comp,” Rizzo said. “The comps are the Bryce Harper’s and the Mike Trout’s and the Mookie Betts’s and the [Fernando] Tatís’s of the world. Same type of ages, same type of years on these contracts and this contract blows all those away.”

The total value certainly did, but that’s not the only number Soto and Boras are looking at.