Yankees: Latest Juan Soto buzz complicating Aaron Judge extension talks?

The New York Yankees are at the forefront of the chase for impact position players like Corey Seager and Carlos Correa, showing that they are always going to throw their hat in the ring when a star becomes available.

So, while he may not be a free agent yet, you can bet the Yankees have eyes on Washington Nationals superstar Juan Soto.

Soto is just 23 years old, but he’s already had a more fulfilling career than most MLB players. As a four-year veteran, Soto has a batting title, All-Star game nod, two top-five MVP finishes, two straight years leading the league in on-base percentage under his belt, and a World Series title.

He’s been everything Washington could’ve hoped for, but not everyone remains convinced that the Nats will be able to keep him considering that they are likely headed for a lengthy rebuild. Is there a chance he’s traded before his time under team control is up?

Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required) thinks that Soto, represented by Scott Boras, may end up with the Yankees or Dodgers if he continues to seek a $500 million deal. Bowden thinks that the cost-cutting, rebuilding Nats will likely trade him at some point in the same way they dealt Trea Turner.

Obviously, if the Yankees can acquire Soto in a trade and are willing to spend the money needed to extend him, you make that trade 10 times out of 10. Very few players in the league are worth gutting the entire farm system for, but he certainly counts as one. Imagine that lefty swing in Yankee Stadium.

Only problem? He shares his primary position with Aaron Judge, who the Yankees likely need to make a big decision with this offseason.

Will the New York Yankees trade for Juan Soto?

While most young superstars are considered to be firmly entrenched within their respective franchises, Washington has had a bit of a history letting their best players go. Stephen Strasburg was retained, yes, but both Turner and Max Scherzer were dealt away at the deadline. Need I bring up how they bungled their pursuit of Bryce Harper (even though it didn’t really matter)?

The Yankees shouldn’t necessarily assume that Soto is going to get traded, but they need to prepare for the idea of him leaving in the not too distant future because the 23-year-old is only under club control through 2024 and is expected to shatter arbitration salary records (he’s due a projected $16.1 million this offseason). And with all the prospect capital the Yankees have at the moment, even if we’re factoring in a possible trade for Matt Olson, there’s no reason Nats GM Mike Rizzo wouldn’t seek out the Bombers as a top trade partner.

Is this why we’re still waiting for a Judge extension? The man’s said he wants to be a Yankee for life multiple times now. Perhaps the Yanks are willing to take their chances and let him hit the open market after 2022 and are prepping for Soto to be available next offseason.

This is mere speculation via connecting the dots with what Bowden provided us. At the very least, it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind with so many decisions that have to be made in the next few months.