MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 24: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals reacts against the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at loanDepot park on August 24, 2021 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yankees’ Juan Soto Makes Surprising Admission About His Old Team

Outfielder Juan Soto is getting ready to play for the New York Yankees in 2024. This will be the third MLB team the 25-year-old has played for in his short career. Depending on how his free agency goes next winter, he could be suiting up for his fourth squad soon enough.

But if you ask Soto about that, he initially thought the Washington Nationals were the only team he'd ever play for.

The outfielder sat down for an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, which was published on February 28. They discussed getting traded, when he started thinking about it, and also his time with the Nats. Kirschner asked Soto if he wished he could've spent his entire career in Washington. Here's how he answered:

"Yeah, 100 percent. I never wanted to leave Washington. It was a great team. I knew everybody there, from the bottom all the way to the top. I was really comfortable and it felt like home for me. I was happy. I had a house in Washington. I was really comfortable up there. Out of nowhere, they made that decision. They thought it was the best thing for the team. I just respected it because they were really clear with me. That's one of the things I really respected from (general manager Mike) Rizzo. He was really clear about the trade stuff. But definitely I never thought I was going to leave D.C. I was really thinking I was going to stay there for my whole career."

Soto made his MLB debut in Washington as a 19-year-old in 2018. He quickly cemented himself as one of the game's top hitters. Between 2018 and 2021, he won two Silver Slugger Awards and placed within the top 10 of National League MVP Award voting three times. Across parts of five seasons with the Nationals, Soto hit .291/.427/.538 with 119 home runs and 358 RBI. He also helped the club win the 2019 World Series against the Houston Astros.

Washington did try to keep the left-handed slugger in DC for the long haul. They offered him a 15-year, $440 million extension ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. It was declined by the Scott Boras client, and Washington promptly traded him to the San Diego Padres. He's widely expected to become the second MLB player ever to sign a contract worth more than $500 million this upcoming offseason.

He might not be a lifelong National, but getting a chance to don the pinstripes and play alongside Aaron Judge for the Yankees has probably softened that blow.

MORE: MLB Insider Weighs in on Yankees' Chances of Signing Juan Soto to Extension