Elian Soto, Juan Soto‘s younger sibling, has verbally agreed to join his brother’s Washington Nationals just days after declaring his intentions to sign with the New York Mets, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
Elian Soto, a 16-year-old outfielder and third baseman, wouldn’t be eligible to formally sign until next year’s international free agent class in January 2023. The younger Soto posted an Instagram video of himself working out in full Mets gear on Dec. 31 and had reportedly been given a $50,000 bonus but has since changed course.
Soto’s decision was first reported by Washington City Paper.
The Nationals’ offer is believed to be bigger. The discrepancy in money and a greater familiarity with the Nats’ minor league system — as opposed to a Mets system seemingly in transition under new general manager Billy Eppler — were the main factors in Soto’s decision, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
The presence of Juan Soto, a 23-year-old superstar who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, certainly didn’t hurt, either.
Elian Soto, a left-handed hitter, isn’t considered a premium international prospect but is still young enough to develop into one. Amateur players and their trainers in the Dominican Republic often make handshake agreements with teams long before they’re old enough to officially sign a contract, allowing them to intermittently train at the team’s facility and preventing them from showcasing themselves to evaluators from other organizations.
There appears to be a strong possibility that an international draft will be baked into the new collective bargaining agreement, which is still being negotiated between the owners and the players. But the current international signing rules could still be in place next year in order to give teams and prospects more time to get acclimated.
Elian Soto, like his brother, is represented by the Boras Corporation, and adding him could play in the Nationals’ favor when it comes to extending Juan Soto, who is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season under the current CBA.