Even if the weather holds up Thursday night, you won't see Washington Nationals' superstar outfielder Juan Soto in the lineup against the New York Yankees.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Soto has tested positive for COVID-19. Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo told the collective media, including MASN's Mark Zuckerman, that Soto is asymptomatic. Still, as part of MLB's protocols, Soto will have to pass to COVID-19 tests "over a span of more than 24 hours," meaning it's entirely possibly he could miss a good chunk of the first week of the season.
While Soto did play in a scrimmage against the Baltimore Orioles the night of the positive test, there's no evidence yet that he spread Coronavirus to anyone else. If there are any positive developments in this story, it's that Rizzo says all other tests from the past 48 hours have come back negative, meaning this doesn't appear to be a situation where this has spread throughout the entire team.
Soto emerged as a playoff hero for the Nationals last season, hitting five postseason home runs en route to the franchise's first World Series title. Affectionally referred to as "Childish Bambino," Soto tagged Hyun-jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander for home runs during the postseason run.
After slashing .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and 110 RBIs, the Nationals were expecting an even bigger output from Soto in 2020, after Anthony Rendon left in free agency to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. In a highly-competitive National League East, Soto missing any extended period of time could be the difference between the Nationals making and missing the postseason.