The Philadelphia Phillies rode an improbable five-RBI night from struggling young shortstop Bryson Stott to defeat the reigning champion Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Monday.

Both starting pitchers performed well, with Braves ace Max Fried striking out eight batters in six innings, allowing three earned runs, while Phillies starter Ranger Suarez gave up no earned runs in five frames.

However, despite Suarez's effectiveness on the mound, the Braves still scored three unearned runs in the second inning, with a fielding error allowing two runs to score, and then a wild pitch bringing home the third.

Later in the second inning, Stott put the Phillies on the board with a clutch two-out, two-run double, and then catcher J.T. Realmuto tied the game at 3-3 in the third frame with his RBI single.

The Braves edged back in front in the sixth through Marcel Ozuna's RBI hit – one of three hits on the night for the left-fielder – and that lead would hold until the bottom of the eighth inning.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Alec Bohm and Yairo Munoz knocked singles to get on base, bringing Stott to the plate for his big moment. He connected on a 378-foot home run to right field, making him responsible for five of the Phillies' six runs.

24-year-old Stott is having a rough season so far – with a batting average of .196 – but this was his fourth multi-hit outing from his last 10 starts, batting .355 over that stretch.

Despite the loss, it was still a strong showing from Braves power bat Austin Riley, who hit a pair of doubles to bring his doubles total to 25 this season – good for 10th in the majors.

India's grand slam lifts Reds 

Jonathan India's first career grand slam was the highlight of a dominant 11-2 win for the Cincinnati Reds against the Miami Marlins.

The Reds led narrowly 3-2 in the fourth inning, but the game got out of hand quickly after Brandon Drury blasted a three-run home run – continuing his vastly improved season that could see him traded to a contender.

An inning later, India blew things out with his 409-foot, no-doubt grand slam for the designated hitter's sixth long-ball of the season.

Soto show rolls into LA

The man being discussed as arguably the most valuable trade asset in MLB history, Juan Soto, flashed the skills that have put him in the position to turn down a $440million contract.

Soto batted in a pair of runs from his two hits in the Washington Nationals' 4-1 win away against the Los Angeles Dodgers, only a week after winning the Home Run Derby in the same stadium.

He did not send any balls over the fence in this one, but he hooked a two-run triple down the right-field line to give his side some breathing room in the fifth inning.

The players' union has rejected Major League Baseball's proposal to instil a draft for international players, keeping the current qualifying-offer system in place through the end of 2026.

The MLBPA issued its decision about eight hours before the midnight EDT deadline Monday.

A prospective international draft became a point of contention during last offseason's lockout and was delayed as a part of the March 10 settlement between the league and players. 

While an international draft could have stimulated the free agent market for certain veteran players, most internationals favoured keeping the current system, which allows teams to sign foreign players from a designated pool of money and pay with draft-pick compensation.

"Players made clear from the outset that any international draft must meaningfully improve the status quo for those players and not unfairly discriminate between those players and domestic entrants," the MLBPA said in a statement announcing its decision.

"Our draft proposals – unprecedented in MLBPA history – sought to establish minimum guarantees in player signings, roster spots, infrastructure investments, playing opportunities, scouting opportunities, as well as enforcement measures to combat corruption.

"We also made proposals to compensate international signees more fairly and in line with other amateurs, and to ensure that all prospects have access to an educational and player development safety net."

The current system, which ties international signing bonus pool money as a penalty to the free agent qualifying offer, has led to a stagnation in the free agent market for older free agents.

"We are disappointed the MLBPA chose the status quo over transitioning to an international draft that would have guaranteed future international players larger signing bonuses and better educational opportunities, while enhancing transparency to best address the root causes of corruption in the current system," MLB said in a statement.

MLB's final proposal would have set a limit of $191 million allotted to a potential draft in 2024, while the players' last offer was for $260million. 

Trayce Thompson drove in two runs and helped break the game open for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who claimed a four-game series sweep with a 7-4 win against the rival San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

Scores were tied at 4-4 following Darin Ruf's two-run homer off Clayton Kershaw in the fifth inning, as the Giants looked to deny their first sweep at Dodger Stadium since 1995.

Kershaw was ultimately pulled in the fifth, giving up five hits and striking out six over 94 pitches, before Craig Kimbrel eventually came in for his 17th save and the Dodgers' eighth consecutive win.

Jake Lamb's double drove in the go-ahead run the game up for grabs in the seventh inning, before Thompson's drive deep to right-centre scored Max Muncy with his brother and Golden State Warriors star Klay in attendance.

The Dodgers maintained their six-game lead over the New York Mets atop the National League standings, extending their record to 64-30 with the victory.

Judge goes deep again in Yankees win

Aaron Judge hit his fourth home run from his past four games as he continues his outlier season, extending his league-leading home run tally to 37 in the New York Yankees' 6-0 away win against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

After starting the series against the Orioles with two home runs, and following it with four hits and two RBIs yesterday, Judge stayed hot as he connected on a 456-foot blast in the third inning. He now leads the MLB for home runs with 37, seven more than the next best in Kyle Schwarber.

On the mound, Nestor Cortes was at his best for the Yankees, giving up six hits and no walks in six scoreless innings, striking out seven. Clarke Schmidt then came in for the unconventional three-inning save.

Alcantara strikes out 10 for Marlins

Arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball this year, Sandy Alcantara struck out 10 batters as his Miami Marlins defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in extra innings.

In his six innings of work, Alcantara gave up two earned runs from just two hits and three walks, earning his 15th quality start of the season, one off the MLB lead held by Houston's Framber Valdez and Toronto's Alek Manoah.

According to Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement (WAR), Alcantara has been the most valuable player in all of baseball this season, and he is the only pitcher in the top-five.

Although David Ortiz was one of seven inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, the day clearly belonged to the former Boston Red Sox slugger.

Ortiz, the designated hitter known as 'Big Papi', played 14 of his 20 major league seasons with the Red Sox and made the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He was part of three World Series titles in Boston, including the championship run in 2004 that ended an 86-year title drought.

Known as much for his outsized personality as his powerful swing, Ortiz delivered a passionate speech and was sure to thank everyone who helped him throughout his baseball career.

"I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to be here today and for giving me the joy of being able to travel this path, this path that has allowed me to be here today and hopefully inspire everyone to believe in yourself," Ortiz said.

Ortiz completed his career with 541 home runs and finished in the top five of AL MVP balloting in five consecutive seasons over a period ending in 2007. Known for his clutch performances, Ortiz had 17 postseason homers, and his 61 playoff RBIs are tied for fourth all-time.

He batted .455 (20 for 44) in 14 career World Series games and was named MVP of the 2013 World Series win against St. Louis after going 11 for 16 with two home runs and eight walks.

Ortiz becomes the fourth Dominican-born player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, along with former teammate Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero Sr. And Juan Marichal.

''I always tried to live my life in a way... so I can make a positive influence in the world,'' Ortiz said. ''And if my story can remind you of anything, let it remind you that when you believe in someone you can change the world, you can change their future, just like so many people believed in me."

In addition to Ortiz, the 2022 Hall of Fame Class included former Dodgers and Mets star Gil Hodges, former Twins teammates Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, Minnie Minoso – who appeared in the majors in five decades (1949-1980) – and Black pioneers Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler.

The St Louis Cardinals will not have All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado available to play in Toronto this week as they have not received the COVID-19 vaccination.

Canada requires all travellers to the country to be fully vaccinated, so Goldschmidt and Arenado will miss the Cardinals' two games against the Blue Jays on Tuesday and Wednesday, as confirmed by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak to reporters on Sunday.

St Louis entered Sunday's MLB action trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by 1.5 games for first place in the NL Central, and with a one-game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies for the third and final wild-card berth in the NL.

Goldschmidt and Arenado have played a major part in that success.

Goldschmidt is batting .333 with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs in 92 games, while Arenado is hitting .299 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs in 90 contests.

They were both selected to their seventh All-Star Game this season. Goldschmidt homered in the NL's 3-2 loss to the AL last Tuesday, but Arenado sat the game out due to tightness in his lower back.

Mookie Betts hit a career milestone as the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak to seven games, defeating their rivals in the San Francisco Giants 4-2 on Saturday.

After his three-run shot to give the Dodgers a 9-6 win to start the four-game series, Betts hit his 200th career home run in the win, going deep off Alex Wood in the third inning.

Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman also scored homers for the Dodgers, making it the first time this season all three have gone over the wall in the same game.

Julio Urias was solid on the mound, meanwhile, striking out five and giving up only two hits over 91 pitches in six innings.

The Dodgers have now won 14 of their last 15 games and now lead the National League by six games over the New York Mets, extending their record to 63-30.

Manoah makes life tough for Red Sox

The Toronto Blue Jays claimed an important win in the American League wildcard race, beating the Boston Red Sox 4-1.

Alek Manoah lowered his ERA to 2.24 for the season, giving up seven hits but striking out as many over 97 pitches in six innings, as he continues to establish himself as one of the MLB's best pitchers.

After pounding the Red Sox 28-5 on Friday to start their three-game series in the American League East, the Blue Jays moved to 9-2 head-to-head for the season, and are now 3.5 games ahead of Boston for the AL's final wildcard spot.

Verlander leads Astros to within touching distance of Yankees

Justin Verlander was in fine form as he became the first pitcher in MLB to win 13 games this season, propelling the Houston Astros to a 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Verlander was in impressive touch on the mound, giving up only four hits and striking out nine over 101 pitches in seven innings, while clocking 99 miles per hour on his fastball in the seventh.

Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel both hit RBI doubles in the fourth inning off Logan Gilbert to set up the win for the Astros, who moved to 63-32 and are now 1.5 games behind the AL-leading New York Yankees.

The New York Yankees’ bullpen took a serious hit when the team announced on Saturday that right-hander Michael King has been placed on the 60-day injured list with a fractured right elbow, possibly ending the key reliever’s season.

Pitching in the eighth inning of Friday’s win over the Baltimore Orioles, King walked off the mound in discomfort immediately after throwing a slider, calling for his team's training staff.

The New York Post reported late on Friday that King’s season is over.

King, 27, was on pace for a career year in 2022, posting a 2.29 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 51 innings out of the bullpen.

In his fourth year in the majors - all with the Yankees - King had settled comfortably into his role in the seventh and eighth innings, setting up breakout closer Clay Holmes.

The Yankees took advantage of relatively good health early this season and have an MLB-leading 65-30 record, but King's injury comes just a week after starter Luis Severino was placed on the injured list with a right lat strain.

The New York bullpen has posted an ERA of 2.96 this season, trailing only the Houston Astros (2.72), despite playing without Zack Britton, Miguel Castro and Chad Green.

Britton, who underwent Tommy John surgery last September will have a chance to return this season if his rehabilitation stays on track.

With King's injury coming more than a week before MLB's August 2 trade deadline, the Yankees could look to add pitching in hopes of making a World Series run.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' David Bednar and Chicago Cubs’ David Robertson - a former Yankee - are among the top relievers thought to be available at the deadline.

There is a chance, however, that New York keeps its bullpen intact, hoping for resurgent second-half performances from the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loaisiga, who have thrown just 20 1/3 innings each this season.

Chapman, formerly one of the game’s most imposing relievers, has a 5.75 ERA and has allowed at least one run in nine of his last 13 appearances.

Loaisiga was a breakout star in the Yankees’ bullpen in 2021, but his ERA has jumped from 2.17 last season to 7.52 this season.

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge extended his league-leading home run tally as he connected on number 35 and 36 for the season in his side's 7-6 away win against the Baltimore Orioles.

With the game scoreless in the third inning and with two outs, the Yankees were able to keep the frame alive with a walk to Joey Gallo and a base hit for D.J. LeMahieu, setting up Judge to bring them both home with a 436-foot blast over the left-field wall.

The Orioles struck back nearly instantly, starting their half of the third with a Ramon Urias single, followed by a Jorge Mateo RBI double and a RBI base hit for Cedric Mullins to trim the margin to 3-2.

All-Star catcher Jose Trevino made it 4-2 for the Yankees when his double brought around Josh Donaldson to score in the fourth inning, and an inning later Judge did it again, this time with a monstrous 465-foot solo bomb for his 36th home run of the season.

He is six home runs clear of Kyle Schwarber (30) in second place, and nobody else has more than 28.

The ice-cold Gallo also hit a solo home run to make it 7-3 in the seventh frame, and it proved to be a crucial run as Anthony Santander hit a three-run shot in the bottom of the same inning to make it 7-6.

But the Yankees bullpen was up to the task of defending the lead, with Michael King collecting three outs from the three batters he faced, before Clay Holmes came in for the five-out save.

With the win, the Yankees move to 65-30 for the season, two games clear of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros for the best record in baseball.

Blue Jays score 28 at Fenway Park

The Toronto Blue Jays made a mess of the Boston Red Sox, with an 11-run fifth inning headlining an outrageous 28-5 victory, the most runs ever scored by the Blue Jays in a single game.

There were some horrific fielding mistakes from the Red Sox, with none worse than center-fielder Jarren Duran losing track of a fly-ball in the third inning with bases loaded, allowing Raimel Tapia to come around for an inside-the-park grand slam. It was the first inside-the-park grand slam since 2017.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr finished six-for-seven at the plate, Tapia batted in six runs, Danny Jansen batted in six runs, and nine Blue Jays finished with multiple hits.

Astros snap Mariners' 14-game winning streak

The Seattle Mariners' winning streak has been broken at 14 games, one shy of their franchise record set back in 2001, losing to the Houston Astros 5-2 after rookie All-Star Julio Rodriguez was a late scratching due to wrist soreness.

A strong pitching performance from Astros starter Jose Urquidy kept the Mariners scoreless through the first five innings, allowing the visiting side to build a strong 5-0 lead highlighted by solo home runs to Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado.

The win ties the Astros with the Dodgers for the second-best record in the majors at 62-32.

The New York Mets were in the market for a power bat and made a move Friday to acquire left-hander Daniel Vogelbach from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for relief pitcher Colin Holderman.  

Vogelbach, 29, has spent most of his seven-year career as a first baseman, but has primarily served as Pittsburgh's designated hitter this season.  

He is batting .228 with 12 home runs, 38 RBIs and 29 runs in 75 games. His 11 homers from the DH position are tied for the second-most in the National League behind Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper. 

Vogelbach has been especially effective against right-handed pitching, with an .896 OPS, 12 home runs and 27 RBIs.  

His best season came with Seattle in 2019, when he hit 30 home runs with 76 RBIs in 144 games.  

The Mets had to part with Holderman, who is 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings during an impressive rookie season.  

Yordan Alvarez was full of belief that the Houston Astros could beat the New York Yankees, even before they went out and swept a double-header.

Houston claimed two wins over the American League leaders on Thursday, triumphing 3-2 and 7-5 respectively at Minute Maid Park.

That puts the Astros to within two and a half games of the Yankees, with the best records in the American League having gone head-to-head.

The Astros have now moved to a 5-2 record for the season against the Yankees, who have now lost seven of their past 10 games.

Alvarez homered in the second game and, along with Alex Bregman, combined for five RBIs as Houston won for the 61st time this season.

"I'm not going to say it doesn't mean anything," Alvarez told reporters. 

"They're a really good team, but we also know we're a really good team as well.

"Beating them feels good, but we know that we’re capable of doing it."

The next time the teams face off could be in the postseason, with the Astros - thanks to their positive season series record - holding home-field advantage should that be the case.

"We were trying to chase a team and wanted to really win this first game, and that put us in a position that if we end up tied, we won the tiebreaker," said Astros coach Dusty Baker after the first game, having taken a risk by utilising his best pitchers in the early encounter.

"We really didn't want to take that into the second game. We went through our bullpen in the first game and that's why it was important for us to win it."

The Astros and Yankees faced off in the 2017 American League Championship Series, with the home team winning all seven games and Houston triumphing. Two years later, the Astros again succeeded, this time thanks to a walk-off home run from Jose Altuve in Game 6.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone understands the recent history of the rivalry, though his hope of claiming two victories failed to come to fruition.

"I'm aware of that, but it doesn't change the fact that we're going to try to win this game and win the night game," Boone said before the games.

"We're in the business of being the best team we can be right now and trying to win every time we are out there."

The Houston Astros started their second half of the MLB season in positive fashion, claiming a double-header sweep over the New York Yankees on Thursday.

The two best records in the American League (AL) faced off and the Astros bested the Yankees once again, moving to a 5-2 head-to-head record for the season with respective 3-2 and 7-5 wins at Minute Maid Park.

After splitting a four-game series in the Bronx in June, Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman both homered and combined for five RBIs to hand the Astros the third win at home this season over the AL leaders.

In the earlier game, Bregman, Korey Lee and rookie JJ Matijevic combined for RBIs while Cristian Javier struck out three but only gave up two hits over 99 pitches in five innings.

With the sweep coming out of the All-Star Game, the Astros suddenly moved to within three games of the AL-leading Yankees, who have now lost seven of their past 10 games.

Gray gets Rangers rolling

Jon Gray led the way for the Texas Rangers as they commenced an 11-game road trip, shutting the Miami Marlins out for an 8-0 win.

Gray struck out five and conceded only four hits over 94 pitches in six innings, while Adolis Garcia homered and drove in three runs.

The Marlins slipped further away from the National League's wild card race with the defeat, now six games back with a fourth consecutive defeat and extending their scoreless streak to 34 innings.

Betts denies Giants comeback

Mookie Betts saved the day for the Los Angeles Dodgers after they almost squandered a big lead, eventually claiming a 9-6 win over their rivals in the San Francisco Giants.

Things were looking good early for the Dodgers, taking a 5-0 lead after the opening three innings off star Giants pitcher Carlos Rodon, with Freddie Freeman scoring a solo home run in the first inning with two out.

The Giants fought back in the seventh through Evan Longoria and Darin Ruf, though, with the two scoring home runs to set up a five-run inning.

A Trayce Thompson triple drove Gavin Lux home to tie after Thair Estrada was walked in the eighth, before a three-run shot from Betts off Jarlin Garcia gave the Dodgers the eventual win.

Betts confirmed the win with a great defensive play in the following inning, making a spectacular sliding catch deep in right-field to retire Joc Pederson.

Despite the American League's (AL) 3-2 win in the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, Clayton Kershaw relished pitching the opening inning, conceding it "meant a lot" to him.

After nine All-Star selections and six appearances, the three-time National League (NL) Cy Young Award winner visibly savoured the moment as he approached the mound.

After the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 2020, Kershaw had effectively achieved everything could as a pitcher in baseball today, but had never started in an All-Star Game.

Achieving it in front of his home fans at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, the usually measured 34-year-old could not hide his excitement. 

"It was actually a lot of fun today to be out there, and the crowd was awesome," Kershaw said after his opening inning. "I can’t say enough good things about Dodger fans, people in LA in general, just how much these last few days, how much they wanted me to do this. It meant a lot to me.

"I tried to take a minute at the beginning to take it all in and look around, which I usually never do. Being here at Dodger Stadium, a place where I’ve been now for 15 years, and to get to do something like this with the best in the world, is really fun.

"And it was also really personal for me and my family, everybody. I’m excited it’s over."

Leading off for the AL, Shohei Ohtani was able to claim a single off Kershaw's first pitch, but the Dodgers' starter caught him trying to steal second, before striking out Aaron Judge.

Paul Goldschmidt gave the NL a 2-0 lead in the opening frame after Mookie Betts drove Ronald Acuna Jr. in, crushing a solo home run up the middle off Shane McClanahan.

The AL team were able to claim the lead with a three-run fourth via Giancarlo Stanton's two-run shot, before Byron Buxton followed up with a solo homer of his own.

Coming in to pinch hit in what could be his final at-bat in an All-Star game, Albert Pujols sent a ball deep into left-field off Paul Blackburn in the bottom of the fourth, but Andrew Benintendi eventually made the catch with the crowd at Dodgers Stadium seemingly willing his hit over the wall.

The AL bullpen started to take over proceedings after Alek Manoah came onto the mound, keeping the NL without a hit between the second and fifth innings.

Emmanuel Clase spectacularly closed for the AL's ninth consecutive win in what was a dominant pitching display.

Los Angeles Angels All-Star Mike Trout revealed Monday that he will serve as the United States team captain for next year’s World Baseball Classic.

Trout made the announcement during a media conference at Dodgers Stadium for Tuesday’s All-Star Game, in which the three-time American League MVP will be unable to participate after suffering a ribcage injury that has been causing spasms in his upper back.

The future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer has been mostly healthy this season and is tied for third in the AL with 24 home runs and fourth in OPS (.967) while recording 51 RBIs and a .270 average in 79 games.

His production has dropped off as of late, however, as he’s hit .200 with a .697 OPS in 18 games since June 20. Trout has struck out 25 times in 65 at-bats over that stretch.

Trout chose not to compete in the most recent World Baseball Classic in 2017, citing personal reasons. The tournament was scheduled to be played in 2021 but wound up cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I’m looking forward to playing for our country," Trout said. "It’s going to be awesome to have ‘USA’ across my chest. It really means a lot to me. It’s going to be fun."

The 31-year-old center fielder missed the Angels’ final four games prior to the All-Star break with the injury and was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday, retroactive to July 12. Trout said he’s hopeful of being back in the lineup when first eligible, which would be the Angels’ visit to Atlanta on Saturday in their second game following the stoppage.

"It’s just one of the things that’s got to get right before I start swinging," Trout said. "It is frustrating for sure. I can’t really pinpoint what caused it, it just started to bother me."

Trout was elected to a 10th career All-Star Game – and ninth straight as a starter – but will miss the contest for a second straight year due to injury. He sat out the 2021 edition due to a strained right calf that limited him to a career-low 36 games last season.


The man at the centre of the the biggest potential trade story of the season, Juan Soto, gave another display of his value on Monday as he won the MLB Home Run Derby.

Soto, 23, recently rejected a 15-year, $440million extension with the Washington Nationals, sparking rumours that the franchise would instead try to cash-in on him for what is expected to be one of the greatest trade hauls in league history.

He went second in all three of his matchups, meaning he never had a chance to bat out his full time and put up a monstrous score, but he chased down his target relatively comfortably all three times.

He defeated Cleveland Guardians star Jose Ramirez 18-17 in the first round, setting up a surprise matchup with future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols after the legend shocked top seed Kyle Schwarber 20-19 in a swing-off after tying 13-13 in regulation.

Pujols could not repeat the heroics in the second round, getting eliminated 16-15 as Soto booked his place in the final.

On the other side of the bracket, Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez would steal the show, crushing the highest total of the day with 32 home runs as the very first batter of the event, eliminating Corey Seager.

Rodriguez then showed up the reigning back-to-back champion, Pete Alonso, with a score of 31-23, storming into the final opposite Soto.

Ultimately, Rodriguez ran out of juice, only putting up 18 in the decider, which Soto was able to chase down with 30 seconds to spare to claim the crown. Soto also finished with the longest home run of the day at 482 feet.

As one of the brightest young stars in baseball, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was once thought to be untouchable on the trade market.  

Shortly after rejecting a 15-year contract to stay with the Nationals, however, Soto finds himself on the trading block, and he isn’t sure what to think about it.  

"It feels really uncomfortable," Soto told reporters ahead of Monday’s Home Run Derby in Los Angeles. "You don't know what to trust. But at the end of the day, it's out of my hands in what decision they make."

Over the weekend, Soto rejected a 15-year, $440million contract extension offer, leading to fresh speculation that the 23-year-old slugger is available with the August 2 trade deadline fast approaching.  

That deal would have carried the largest total value in baseball history, but the average annual salary of $29.3 million would rank 16th in the league this season – not enough to appease Soto’s representation.  

By the lofty standards he set for himself, Soto had a slow start to this season and is hitting .250 at the break, although his 20 home runs have him tied for 14th in the majors.  

Soto admitted that, despite his best efforts, his future has been on his mind during this season.  

"Here and there, you know. But you can't blame that on your stats or anything you can do on the field," he said. "At the end of the day, I just try to forget about everything outside for three hours, and try to be the 12-year-old that I've been and play baseball as hard as I can and try to enjoy it as much as I can." 

After winning the 2019 World Series, the Nationals have been well below .500 in the past two seasons, and are 31-63 this campaign.  

Washington have already traded other pillars of that championship team – notably, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner – and Soto’s situation leaves general manager Mike Rizzo on the verge of a total organizational rebuild.  

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