Let’s get one thing straight: The New York Yankees acquiring Juan Soto would be a fantastic move, and the batting order would improve significantly in the process.
In fact, securing his services for the 2024 season would suppress any bad memory of missing out on Bryce Harper. However, there’s a massive risk to acquiring Soto since his agent, Scott Boras, never settles for an extension and prefers to take his players to the open market, where they can get the best deal possible.
At just 25 years old and in the middle of a Hall of Fame-level career, Soto will be trying to get every last dollar, which makes sense given he rejected a 12-year, $440 million extension from the Washington Nationals before he was traded. His salary will breach the $29 million AAV he was originally presented, likely getting closer to $40+ million per season.
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The Yankees Need to Get Younger, and Juan Soto Helps
The Yankees have spent a lot on far less in the past, especially with the degradation of Giancarlo Stanton and the bad contracts given to players like Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees need a young asset who is controllable for the future and barely in his prime. Soto is younger than some of their elevating prospects and has already put together six elite MLB seasons. He’s played over 150 games for three consecutive years and played all 162 this past campaign for the San Diego Padres.
Soto hit .275 with a .410 OBP, .519 slugging rate, including 35 homers and 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+ this year. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Padres need to clear salary after taking out a $50 million loan to cover expenses in September, so general manager AJ Preller has minimal leverage.
The Bombers don’t have to give up premium-level players, but they will have to give a decent haul of upside in exchange for Soto, and the two sides are already negotiating on potential pieces to be moved.
The Yankees may have to take on another contract like Jake Cronenworth, who signed a seven-year, $80 million deal that expires in 2031. if Brian Cashman is willing to take on that salary, he will likely refuse to give away even more top talent in the process. Releasing those two players would clear the Padres of any financial struggles, but it would strap the Yankees with another bad contract.
The major risk here is that Soto heads free agency, and the Yankees are outbid by a team like the New York Mets, who may be in a better spot come the 2025 off-season.
The Yankees have a chance to land both Soto and star international pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, two young and durable pieces. They would transform the starting rotation and batting order overnight, which is precisely what the team needs after a disappointing 2023 season.