Yankees’ Juan Soto opens up about a possible contract extension

MLB: San Diego Padres at New York Yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The hope is that the New York Yankees didn’t send four quality pitchers to the San Diego Padres for one year of Juan Soto. On paper, that is precisely what it looks like, but ownership should aggressively pursue Soto on a long-term deal, given he’s only 25 years old and in the middle of his prime.

After Shohei Ohtani landed a 10-year, $700 million deal, Soto is in line for a major payday as well after the 2024 season comes to an end. The Yankees have him locked into one year at an estimated $30 million in his final year of arbitration, and it is totally possible they will start negotiations for an extension before free agency comes around. However, the Yankees are hyper-focused on a championship next season, and Soto plays an integral part in that equation.

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The Yankees Need to Keep Soto Long Term

During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Soto brushed off any extension, suggesting that the Yankees know who to talk to: Super agent Scott Boras.

“On any contract stuff, they know where to call and who to talk to,” Soto said. “I’m here just to play baseball.”

Soto has to acclimate to his new team and begin to build some camaraderie in the clubhouse. Of course, it is still the off-season, and most players are away from the team facilities, but spring training is approaching in a few months, and Soto will have plenty of time to develop chemistry and comfortability. For now, his priority is getting to know his teammates and building relationships.

“My priority right now is just to get to know the team and get to know the guys, really,” Soto said. “Going to the team to New York to Tampa, wherever I’m gonna meet those guys and try to get a good relationship, try to really stick together, get to know those guys and push and try to get the same goal.”

Fortunately, the Yankees have the same goal as Soto, winning championships. The 25-year-old lefty star is coming off an elite season, playing all 162 games. He hit .275/.410/.519, including a career-high 35 homers, 109 RBIs, and a 155 wRC+. He’s a defensive liability in the outfield, but the Yankees will try to cover up that part of his game by starting him in right. Aaron Judge will transition to centerfield, and Alex Verdugo will feature in left field.

The Yankees have done a tremendous job overhauling their outfield in one off-season, but they still have a few pieces they need to add, notably star international picture Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Yankees are aggressively pursuing his services — Yamamoto would add a high-upside arm to the rotation at just 25.