The Nationals have avoided arbitration with star outfielder Juan Soto and first baseman Josh Bell, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter links). Soto will make $17.1MM, while Bell will collect an even $10MM.
It’s a massive second-year number for Soto, who had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $16.2MM mark. That’s a reflection of the 23-year-old’s otherworldly track record, as he’s coming off as good a year at the plate as anyone in the game. Soto hit .313/.465/.534 with 29 home runs in 654 plate appearances. That earned him a notable bump over his 2021 salary of $8.5MM. Soto reached arbitration last winter as a Super Two and is controllable through 2024.
Bell’s $10MM salary is an exact match for Swartz’s projection. The former Pirate is coming off a decent first season in the District, posting a .261/.347/.476 line with 27 homers. After a pedestrian first half, Bell caught fire down the stretch. He’ll try to keep that going this season and set himself up for a nice payday next winter, when he’ll reach the open market for the first time.
With those agreements in place, the Nationals now have around $135MM on the books, according to Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. That’s nearly $50MM lower than last year’s season-opening mark, as the Nats kicked off a retooling effort last summer.