MLB rumors: The ‘cold truth’ about Yankees’ Juan Soto contract negotiations

Yesterday’s price is not today’s price.

New York Yankees player Juan Soto

Juan Soto is pretty good at baseball. All right, that’s a pretty big understatement, but what can’t be understated is how much his performances this season have helped the New York Yankees superstar in potential contract talks.

The Yankees, who acquired Soto from the San Diego Padres in the offseason, have Soto under contract for just this season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. By having him on the team, the Yankees are the only team that can speak with Soto about a new contract for the moment, which, in theory, gives them a much better chance of signing the Dominican slugger to a big deal before other teams can throw their proverbial hats in the ring and drive up the price in free agency.

The reality is, though, that Soto has little incentive to ink a new deal before the offseason. While he could eliminate the risk of a downturn in play or serious injury affecting his contract by signing an extension with the Yankees during the season, Soto, like many athletes, is probably going to bet on himself and wait until multiple teams can officially give him offers in the winter.

MLB insider Bob Nightengale of USA Today even said there is “absolutely zero chance” Soto signs a deal before the offseason.

“While Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said he’s interested in engaging in contracts talks with right fielder Juan Soto and agent Scott Boras to avert free agency, with Soto saying he’s willing to listen, the cold truth is there is absolutely zero chance Soto will sign before he’s a free agent,” Nightengale wrote. “He turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals two years ago. So, what’s another six months? Soto can keep on hitting, sit back, and watch the bidding war emerge between the Yankees and Mets.

“Let’s see who blinks first and gives him $500 million.”

Juan Soto’s red-hot 2024 season driving up contract figures

New York Yankees player Juan Soto

Juan Soto knows he’s going to get paid very well regardless, but he has done everything through the first quarter of the 2024 MLB season to prove that he’s worthy of one of the largest contracts in the sport’s history. The aforementioned $440 million deal he was offered by the Washington Nationals during the 2022 season would have been the largest deal in MLB history, surpassing Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.

It’s probably unlikely Soto will ink the largest deal ever now, however, as two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million deal this past offseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But it’s fair to believe Soto will earn the second-largest deal, especially with how he has played in pinstripes this season.

In his first season with the Yankees, Soto has dominated. The AL leader in hits and total bases, Soto boasts batting splits of .317 AVG / .414 OBP / .561 SLG / .975 OPS. Additionally, he has tallied 11 home runs and 37 RBIs as the Bronx Bombers have got out to a hot start.

The Yankees currently have the best record in the AL (and second-best in MLB) and appear to be one of the favorites to win the 2024 World Series. If the Yankees could do it and Soto plays a big part, delivering the Yanks their first World Series since 2009 would certainly bode very well for Soto and his agent Scott Boras.

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