The New York Yankees will have a lot of explaining if they don’t make a splash at the 2022 trade deadline, with several gaps that need fixing and several core names on the market. The most exciting potential trade target is Nationals mega-star Juan Soto, who made himself extremely available last weekend when word leaked that he’d rejected the Nats’ long-term overtures.
Soto was given a 15-year, $440-million contract offer that opened many eyes … but not his or agent Scott Boras’. Though the deal looks exciting to the naked eye, it only constitutes a $29.3 million AAV, which would rank 20th in baseball history. Soto, a slugger unlike many this game has seen with the power and patience of Ted Williams, can become a 26-year-old free agent, and clearly has every intention of doing so.
$440 million is generational money. That doesn’t mean the 1-of-1 Soto can’t do better.
What followed seemed exceptionally petty. Somehow, the Nationals managed to withdraw their offer of a charter to the All-Star Game, leaving Soto and Boras to fend for themselves. The Nats haven’t claimed responsibility for the contract leak, but both Soto and Boras have insinuated that the team is at fault for their current dissatisfaction in the public square.
And that brings everything to a head on Thursday night. Yankees legend Derek Jeter, while watching Episode 2 of “The Captain” air on ESPN, tweeted his now-famous nugget about one-way loyalty. Soto seemed to agree with Jeter before quickly backtracking and deleting the whole thing.
Yankees’ Derek Jeter quote resonated with Nationals’ Juan Soto
Do the Yankees have any hope of taking advantage of Washington’s disloyalty? It still feels unlikely, despite earlier columns arguing a Soto deal would be “make-or-break” for the current regime.
The Yankees are reportedly unwilling to absolutely gut their farm system to bring Soto to the Bronx, in lockstep with the Mets on that assertion. Soto would be an astounding get, but … there’s no precedent for this. The game’s brightest stars don’t typically get traded with 2.5 years of control left, at the age of 23, and less than three years after securing a World Series as a franchise player.
Washington — if they’re really going to do this — would be best-served to pounce in the next week, giving whichever lucky team acquires Soto three full potential postseason runs with their high-priced acquisition before he must be extended. The Yankees have more pressing concerns in the rotation, it would seem, especially without Luis Severino for quite a while. Add in the fact that any warm body would be an upgrade over Joey Gallo, and it’s easy to see why the Bombers aren’t the favorites in this completely unique chase.
Unless, of course … Soto wants to be loyal to The Captain.