Yankees eyeing blockbuster extension for star slugger

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent podcast interview on YES Network, Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner expressed a strong desire to keep Juan Soto in pinstripes for the foreseeable future.

Soto, who joined the Yankees after a significant trade with the San Diego Padres, has quickly established himself as a key player. Not only is he one of the most formidable sluggers in baseball, but his skills as a contact hitter place him in the top echelon of offensive talents. This performance aligns with the high expectations set when the Yankees traded valuable pitchers for him.

Yankees’ Commitment to Juan Soto

Currently, Soto is in his final arbitration year, with a $31 million salary for the 2024 season. His future with the team beyond this year remains uncertain, as he is expected to test free agency, potentially escalating his market value.

Despite this, both Steinbrenner and General Manager Brian Cashman have publicly committed to trying to keep Soto with the Yankees for at least the next decade, a statement that might weaken their negotiating position slightly.

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

Strategic Moves and Soto’s Performance

Cashman acknowledged the challenge but remains hopeful about retaining Soto, stating:

“When we traded for him, we certainly hoped we could keep him,” Cashman said. “We also recognize he’ll be making his own decision either way. We hope we can make it hard on him.”

The Yankees typically avoid mid-season negotiations for extensions; however, Soto’s unique situation might prompt an earlier discussion. Renowned agent Scott Boras, known for maximizing his clients’ contracts, will likely seek competitive offers, adding pressure to the negotiations.

Soto is having an outstanding season, batting .309 with an .947 OPS, including 11 home runs and 37 RBIs. His on-base skills are highlighted by a 14.5% walk rate and a 171 wRC+. Despite traditionally being weaker on defense, Soto has improved significantly this season with the Yankees, achieving a perfect fielding percentage and contributing positively to their defense metrics.

The Yankees have strategically managed their payroll, staying below the $300 million mark this offseason to prepare for a possible hefty extension for Soto. With $31 million already committed to Soto this year, finding an additional $20 million could be facilitated by Anthony Rizzo’s contract, which includes a club option for 2025. This financial maneuvering demonstrates the Yankees’ commitment to securing Soto’s impactful presence in their lineup for years to come.

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