In late July, when Juan Soto first thought of donating his all-star week earnings to Olympic athletes from the Dominican Republic, he called a former teammate and now trusted friend. Emilio Bonifácio was set to play for the country’s baseball team in Japan. But when Soto explained his intentions, Bonifácio offered insight that helped shape the next steps.

“I just told him to consider others beyond baseball,” Bonifácio recalled in a recent phone call. “He was already going to. He wanted to help as many people as he could. The thing some people don’t realize is that a few of us baseball guys got to make our money in the States. The boxers, the runners, they are doing this because it is what they love. And they are doing this for our country with little financial gains.”

So Soto used his shares from the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game in Denver — around $200,000 — to sponsor a mix of baseball players, boxers and track and field athletes. A Santo Domingo native, Soto still spends every offseason at home, hanging with family and working out on the beach. As one of the sport’s best hitters and a credible National League MVP candidate for the Washington Nationals, he has become a superstar in his baseball-crazed country. He turns 23 on Oct. 25.

One day last winter, Soto was training at the same facility as a handful of Olympic-bound runners. He was amazed by how quickly they rebounded for another sprint. When they challenged him to a race, he laughed, politely declining. This September, while discussing his donations, Soto joked that if his life depended on excelling in track, he’s not sure he would make it. They earned his full respect and then some.

“I know where they all came from and what they have been through,” Soto explained. “The process we have to all go through is hard. We have to go from one side of the country to the other for practices. We had to go hours and hours without eating sometimes. We have to practice and have no proteins, or no shoes, or not the right clothing or equipment. So it’s pretty tough to do that and still be motivated. What they did for the Olympics, it’s just amazing.”

Supporting other Dominicans is something Soto learned from the veteran Latin American players who immediately embraced him in the majors. Among them were Gerardo Parra, Asdrúbal Cabrera and even Bonifácio, a 36-year-old utility man who had brief stints with the Nationals in 2008 and 2020. There have been many more, whether they play in Washington or elsewhere.

Before Soto’s second season, he received a FaceTime call from Robinson Canó, one of his childhood idols, who told him to keep being himself. Quickly, though, Soto found himself in a position to prop others up.

“When I got to Nationals camp, he told me: ‘I’ve always watched you. It’s such honor to play with you,’ ” Bonifácio remembered. “I laughed because this is Juan Soto. I’m the one who is honored and lucky. Everyone in the Dominican knows who Juan is now. He’s huge, and that’s why him supporting these athletes is such a big deal here.”

“The first thing about Juan’s commitment to his country and to his community is that this is not an athlete who has already established a long-term contract foundation,” said Scott Boras, Soto’s agent. “Juan, for the first time in his career, received a salary above the league minimum this past year [$8.5 million]. So at this stage of his career, for him to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars is significant.

“Normally in an elite athlete’s career, their charitable thoughts and actions come after they’ve established themselves in the salary structure. But Juan was very committed to the idea.”

The Dominican Republic finished with three silver medals and two bronzes in Japan. The silvers came in the women’s 400 meters, the mixed 4x400-meter relay and men’s weightlifting. The bronze medals came in women’s weightlifting and baseball. Soto noted that, despite popular belief, the Dominican is not only a baseball country, expressing admiration for the women’s volleyball team, too. Bonifácio added that Soto’s donations could help shift that perception.

“If you see a Dominican coming out of the country, coming into the States, and he don’t have anybody, just take him to where there are other Dominicans,” Soto said. “Because they’re going to love him; they’re going to be together like they are family. We all know how hard we have to work to come to the States and help your family, help your people and make everybody proud.”