6:37pm: The team tested Soto on multiple occasions Thursday, and the results came back negative, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweets. But in order to return, Soto will still need two negative lab tests 24 hours apart.
1:35pm: General manager Mike Rizzo confirmed to reporters that Soto has tested positive, though thankfully, Soto is asymptomatic (Twitter link via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). The left fielder tested negative consistently in recent weeks but was positive on his most recent test, per the GM.
1:25pm: Nationals star Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss tonight’s season opener against the Yankees, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter). The team announced its roster shortly after the report, and Soto indeed is not listed with the club’s outfielders.
Soto, still just 21, missed the early portion of Summer Camp while quarantining after being exposed to someone who’d tested positive, but he was cleared to return to Nats camp a week ago today. It’s not known when the positive test occurred or whether he is symptomatic, but Soto will need a pair of negative tests before he is able to return to the Nationals’ roster.
The Nationals’ roster listed Victor Robles, Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor, Andrew Stevenson and Emilio Bonifacio as its five outfield options. Robles and Eaton will line up in center and right field, respectively, on the regular, so it seems that some combination of Taylor, Stevenson and Bonifacio will shoulder the bulk of the load in left field during Soto’s absence.
The obvious hope here is that Soto, one of baseball’s most exciting young stars, will remain asymptomatic and return as expeditiously as possible. But the positive test serves as a reminder that this sort of storyline will likely continue throughout the season. Players aren’t being tested daily, and we’ve already seen multiple instances of erratic and inconsistent positive/negative results that have delayed some in getting back to the field.