Athletic columnist explains why Yankees will avoid Juan Soto issues from San Diego

New York Yankees v Houston Astros
New York Yankees v Houston Astros / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Newly-imported New York Yankees superstar Juan Soto appears to be an early-season culture changer for the team -- and he hasn't even played a home game yet.

But his reputation in San Diego, which preceded him to the NYC spotlight, hinted at underlying issues behind the scene fueled by clubhouse discord. Who was at fault? Who was the antagonist? Did Soto cause problems, or shrink away when the going got tough? What, exactly, was making him -- and the rest of the underperforming 26-man roster -- uncomfortable?

The Athletic's Britt Ghiroli published a deep dive this week into what exactly makes Soto tick, an extra pertinent examination after an American League Player of the Week honor after his first series in pinstripes. Soto, patient and powerful, has been a galvanizing force for the Yankees.

So ... why didn't that happen in San Diego? And why won't things turn sour in New York, or whichever team opts to pay him $500+ million next? Ghiroli believes it was an issue of comfort, not motivation, which the Yankees have already insured against.

Why Yankees centerpiece Juan Soto will continue leadership journey in the Bronx

First and foremost, in an interview with Foul Territory, Ghiroli wanted to insist that Soto is motivated by winning rather than individual accolades. If there was an acceptance of losing in San Diego's clubhouse, it rankled Soto instead of originating with him.

"This guy cared more about winning than arguably anyone on that Padres team ... but he is a guy who has trust issues," Ghiroli explained passionately.

However, when it comes to creating comfort, the Yankees accounted for Soto behind the scenes in ways that most fans probably weren't even aware of. Assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler, an addition that flew under the radar in January, could very well be the key to maintaining the relationship.

"I think New York doesn't have to worry about that because they have Pat Roessler, who has had Soto before when Soto has had success. Who has worked with Kevin Long who, as I mention in that story, is a very close friend of Juan Soto, and was his only hitting coach for years and years," Ghiroli continued.

If communing with Long's camp is key, the Yankees would be wise to maintain that connective tissue. And, if a Soto bidding war does break out this winter, it's worth remembering that at least Long is no longer with the Mets; he's in Philadelphia now.

Don't discount a Phillies splurge, either, but the Yankees have accounted for plenty here, and seem focused on making Soto's singular year in the Bronx as pleasant as possible, clearing a path for a long-term pact.