Sounds so wrong. Feels so right.
Soto, somehow already the most patient young power hitter since Ted Williams and coming off a 175 OPS+ campaign, is just 23 years old and can stake a claim as the best player in the game.
When he hits free agency, he’ll be 26, an obscenely young age to be blessed with generational earning power — and in a landscape that will likely be beneficial to the market full of players whenever the new CBA is ratified.
The Yankees, no matter what their payroll, budget and depth chart look like, should be all over him.
Will this article get passed around the worst forums on the internet, dedicated to declaring how Yankees fans “buy all their players”? Absolutely!
But let’s face it: the Yankees aren’t a monolithic symbol of wealth if they don’t actually do the damn thing.
Every time a player like Juan Soto rejects a $350 million contract from Washington’s management, Yankee fans’ brains are supposed to make a mental note. Otherwise, why are we here?
Projecting Juan Soto’s potential free agent deal with the New York Yankees
A 13-year, $350 million deal sounds like the height of luxury — and the Nationals certainly believed it to be, too, considering this is one of very few long-term offers the franchise has ever made that doesn’t include massive (and fairly embarrassing) deferrals, a detail thrown in by Bob Nightengale.
That type of money is par for the recent course, in terms of young player extensions well ahead of schedule. Fernando Tatis Jr. signed a 14-year, $340 million deal with the Padres to wipe out four years of his free agency, and Francisco Lindor, far closer to the cliff, erased his final year of team control as part of a 10-year, $341 million deal with $50 million deferred.
Soto turned down about $27 million AAV after watching Lindor get to the edge and sign for $34.1 million annually. No offense meant to Lindor — seriously, none at all — but there is almost no one like Juan Soto in this game’s history. It should take something above $40 million annually to secure his services, especially this far ahead of free agency.
Carlos Correa, balky back and all, is expected to shoot for $350 million for 10 years, or $35 million annually, when the lockout ends. Max Scherzer is making $43 million a year to close out his active baseball life with the Mets. How can Soto not be looking at these free agent contracts, looking back at his currently decimated roster, and considering getting out in three years rather than locking himself in right now?
If Soto goes to the Yankees or Mets in three seasons, after everything (well, most things … hopefully …) have been collectively bargained away, he can expect a 10-year deal worth at least $400 million, probably closer to $450.
You have been warned. You have also been prepared.
If the Yankees want to stay in the upper echelon and remain the filthy rich team that the baseball world loves to hate, they’d better start piling a sizable chunk on top of their luxury tax projections.