Yankees’ star outfielder eyeing $500 million starting point on next contract

Syndication: Arizona Republic, juan soto, yankees, Mets
Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

If the Yankees really want to keep superstar slugger Juan Soto for the next decade, if not more, a contract extension will have to start at $500 million, according to The Athletic.

Similar to how the Los Angeles Dodgers structured Shohei Ohtani‘s contract, the Yankees may look to defer some of the money, allowing them to spend more in the near term with inflation ultimately reducing the overall cost of any deal they push into the future.

“He’s got big eyes,” a source told Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic. “I think he’s after the AAV (average annual value) Ohtani has, without the deferrals.”

The Yankees Will Have to Pay Big Money to Retain Juan Soto

Let’s assume that Soto would target a 13-year, $550 million deal, which would pay him $42.3 million per season, making him one of the highest-paid position players in the game.

The Yankees are known for their deep pockets and blank checks, so retaining a 25-year-old Hall of Fame caliber player should be an easy decision for owner Hal Steinbrenner. Soto will make them more money over that time based on production alone, not to mention jersey sales and other revenue streams. Soto not only draws eyes to the Yankees but may help them win their first championship in over a decade, which would certainly be a profitable expenditure for the front office.

To start the season, Soto has already flashed his dominance, hitting .345/.441/.483, including a homer and four RBIs, with an 182 wRC+. In the first series of the season against the Houston Astros, Soto put his brilliance on full display. He tallied nine hits with four RBIs, coming up clutch in several moments. He may be the kryptonite that the Yankees needed to take down the Astros.

Ultimately, Aaron Judge was unable to carry the entire team on his own last year, but Soto’s presence makes his job a little bit easier. Having those two locked down in the top half of the order for the foreseeable future would be a blessing for a team looking to bolster one of the best offenses in the game.

Obviously, the Yankees are also scheduled to lose Alex Verdugo and Gleyber Torres next off-season since both will be free agents. Torres seems all but gone, given his price tag and the Yankees likely wanting to allocate as much money as possible toward Soto’s hopeful extension.

However, the team has a number of outfield prospects climbing the system, including Spencer Jones and Jason Dominguez. It will be interesting to see how they utilize both players, especially if they retain Soto in the outfield and Aaron Judge remains a starting defensive player.

Two things can unfold: Judge either transitions to first base, allowing Dominguez to man left field and Jones in center, or the team eats the remainder of Giancarlo Stanton’s contract and rotates Judge in the outfield at DH.

One way or another, the Yankees’ future is bright and Soto makes it even brighter.

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