Yankees are facing a ‘blank check’ situation with superstar slugger

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are 3–0 to start the 2024 season, taking down the Houston Astros for a third consecutive time on Saturday evening.

Another late comeback win was sparked by Oswaldo Cabrera, who smashed a two-run homer to right field at the top of the seventh inning.

Immediately after, superstar slugger Juan Soto drilled a line drive to left field over the outfield wall, giving the Yankees a 4–3 lead. Second-year shortstop Anthony Volpe capped off the win with a homer to left-center in the eighth inning, setting Houston back significantly to open the year and give the Yankees a substantial advantage.

“It’s three games in a long, long season,” manager Aaron Boone said. “But I love our mindset, I love our compete, I love our hunger. I feel like if we can maintain that and go out, we can be the team we want to be. But we’ve got a long way to go.”

However, Soto’s impact over the first three games has been legendary and representative of vintage Yankee baseball. On Saturday, he contributed two more hits, two runs, and an RBI. On the season, he’s hitting .500/.600/.833, including a 299 wRC+ with a 6.7% strikeout rate and a 20% rate.

“Winning the way we’ve been winning these games is incredible,” Soto said.

The Yankees Are Seeing the Fruits of Juan Soto’s Labor

At this point, the Yankees need to consider giving Soto a blank check next off-season when he inevitably hits free agency. At just 25 years old, not only is the Hall of Fame-level player in the middle of his prime, but he will be the face of the franchise for the next decade alongside Aaron Judge, who is six years older.

Judge has had a rather slow start to the season, so the impact of Soto has been welcomed with open arms. That dynamic duo will be unstoppable when both are hitting at a high level simultaneously, but the Yankees are beating one of the best teams in the game without Judge’s help, for the most part.

Soto hasn’t only been fantastic offensively; he’s also made a few stellar defensive plays, including gunning a runner out at the home plate on opening day and making a sliding catch on Friday. He’s already collected a defensive run saved for the Yankees in right field this season, putting together a historic start.

Soto could crack $500 million on a new contract, but the Yankees may try to defer some of his money in the hopes of spending more and reinforcing the roster. The Yankees still have Giancarlo Stanton under contract until 2028, so they will have to find ways to get creative and open up financial flexibility to add more talent, especially with Gleyber Torres and Alex Verdugo hitting free agency next off-season as well.

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