You've heard alllll about the Shohei Ohtani contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, so we'll spare you the repetition. In the end, it's a $700 million contract across the next 20 seasons, two numbers that were never floated during the rumor/speculation cycle over the past year and a half. But that's baseball. Expect the unexpected, and even when you do, be ready to be jarred in some way, shape, or form.
So how does this relate to the New York Yankees? Well, days before Ohtani made history, the Bombers made the first massive splash of the offseason by acquiring Juan Soto in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Exciting for 2024.
But how could anyone solely focus on one year of Soto? This is a generational 25-year-old hitting free agency next November at the most opportune time for all parties involved. Great news, right?
Well, yes and no. It was until Ohtani signed for $700 million. And he signed that contract, as of right now, as a designated hitter. He cannot pitch in 2024. It's unclear how his career as a pitcher will unfold after his second Tommy John surgery.
Previously, Ohtani's speculated number never topped $600 million, and that even seemed excessive based on estimations. Many were picturing $500-$550 million with incentives. But he just got $700 million guaranteed. So what's Soto going to get as an everyday position player after rejecting $440 million from the Washington Nationals? And can the Yankees try out some of those "deferrals" everyone's talking about?
Shohei Ohtani contract might've killed Yankees' chances of re-signing Juan Soto
General manager Brian Cashman and Soto's agent, Scott Boras, were both asked about the possibility of an extension both before and after the trade. Cashman expressed the Yankees are well aware this could be a short-term affair. Boras, based on his track record, has every intention of taking his client to free agency, so what's the point in even twisting our brains into a pretzel?
All we know is that Soto's price tag is probably going to be higher than anything anybody's previously projected -- barring a catastrophic occurrence (but we won't go deeper into that). Even with a down year, Soto's market will probably remain unaffected. He's a superstar, perennial MVP candidate, marketing icon, and international figure. That's an ironclad investment for any franchise.
It's unclear if Hal Steinbrenner is interested in making Soto a Yankee for life. It's unclear if Soto wants that. But the Yankees have some payroll complications they need to work out before a $500 million contract is considered, and that seems like it'll be the floor for Soto.
There was never going to be a discount for the slugger, but for a moment it felt like there was a possibility Ohtani's theoretical incentive-laden ~$500 million contract could've kept Soto's market in check. That's over with. And if the Yankees want to be serious contenders come next November, Steinbrenner will have to enter uncomfortable spending range once again.
The silver lining? It's nothing new for the Yankees' owner, so perhaps the safest gamble on an available international generational talent might help him throw caution to the wind when the time comes.