The Yankees will likely face a $500 million question next off-season

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Feb 25, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Juan Soto (22) celebrates a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees have a golden opportunity to contend for the World Series this season, bolstered by star slugger Aaron Judge’s recent surge, which has rendered their offense nearly unstoppable.

Yankees Sweep the Twins and Look Ahead

Having just completed a series sweep against the formidable Minnesota Twins, the Yankees are poised to take on the Chicago White Sox, who currently rank among the weakest teams in the league, in a three-game series. While Judge has found his rhythm, his hitting partner, Juan Soto, has experienced a slight dip in form.

Despite this, Soto had a strong start to the season, effectively balancing Judge’s earlier struggles and enhancing his prospects for a lucrative contract extension.

During a conversation on Thursday, Soto expressed openness to discussing a contract extension mid-season, remarking that his “door is always open.” This comes despite the usual practice of his agent, Scott Boras, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, preferring to negotiate during free agency.

MLB: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays, juan soto
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Soto’s Future with the Yankees

On Jack Curry’s podcast, Hal Steinbrenner expressed his desire to see Soto remain a Yankee for the remainder of his career, a sentiment echoed by many fans. At just 25, Soto already boasts over six years of MLB experience, including a World Series and consistent elite-level performance. This season, he’s batting .302/.403/.517 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs. His strikeout rate stands at 14.1%, with a walk rate of 14.6% and a wRC+ of 166.

Given his impressive track record and ongoing performance, the Yankees face a monumental decision potentially worth $500 million. Similar to Shohei Ohtani’s strategy, deferring compensation could allow the Yankees to allocate resources more flexibly, enhancing their ability to recruit additional talent while ensuring Soto is fully compensated for his contributions, which already total $31 million this season—a figure that’s considered a bargain given his output.

Moreover, Soto has also started strongly on defense this year, maintaining a perfect fielding percentage with one defensive run saved and one out above average over 394 innings.

Faced with a decision that could amount to half a billion dollars, the Yankees’ best move might be to offer Soto a blank check, aiming to secure one of the most formidable offenses in baseball for the foreseeable future.

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