Juan Soto should be Yankees’ top target this winter

Juan Soto Mets Yankees
San Diego Padres’ Juan Soto, right, celebrates with Ha-Seong Kim (7) and Austin Nola after hitting a three-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday, July 1, 2023, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

If the New York Yankees are willing to make a huge splash for Juan Soto, it’s going to turn some heads this winter.

The Bronx Bombers aren’t the only ones who could have their eyes on the All-Star outfielder this winter as his future with the San Diego Padres is uncertain to the point of a trade potentially going down in the coming months. The former Washington-National-now-Padre is a superstar who has truly proven himself to be one of the best young bats (still) in the game.

As it stands, at least according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Yankees and Padres have yet to hold talks.

For a franchise known for being the team that racks up World Series rings, though, a 14-year championship drought could spark general manager Brian Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner to do something big. As it stands, Soto is under team control for one more year — and he’ll be going through arbitration where he’s expected to make roughly $27 million in 2024, per Spotrac.

The Yankees currently have a projected $41 million in competitive balance tax space, meaning they could fit his pricetag at least for 2024. But for a roster full of holes and Soto likely calling for much more in 2025 and beyond, the Bronx Bombers would have to shed some more space so Steinbrenner can keep his wish of staying under the CBT. 

Soto, who just turned 25 this past Wednesday, played in all 162 games in 2023 and slashed .275/.410/.519. He held the league lead in the MLB for 132 walks to go with 35 home runs and 109 RBI. It would immediately provide more juice to a lineup that struggled mightily last season — especially when Aaron Judge was sidelined due to a toe injury. Soto’s left-handed pop could wreak havoc for the Yankees.

Of course, it all comes down to the asking price of the Padres and then Soto’s contractual demands should such a blockbuster happen.

A package of top prospects like Spencer Jones and Jasson Dominguez would likely be the starting ask from San Diego. Even shortstop Anthony Volpe, who made his MLB debut in 2023, could also be a talking point.

Two seasons ago, Soto rejected a $440 million extension from the Nationals before he was traded to San Diego. Knowing that Soto is represented by Scott Boras, it might take a little more than that to secure him long-term. That’s another massive contract to add to a current crop of players like Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton, all of whom are making over $30 million per year.

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