Juan Soto is just unpacking his bags at Yankee Stadium, trying to get acclimated to his third team in two years following the New York Yankees’ trade with the San Diego Padres to land the 25-year-old superstar.
But while Yankees fans are more than elated for Soto to be among their ranks, whether he sticks around after this season will be a burning question until the three-time All-Star outfielder makes his decision.
The contract questions were already asked by reporters on Tuesday during Soto’s introductory Zoom news conference, so it will be something to get used to for him. However, he was quick to turn the Yankees’ attention to his agent, Scott Boras, who was also on the call.
“My priorities right now are just getting to know the team, getting to know the guys,” Soto said, per the New York Post, “going to New York, going to Tampa [the Yankees’ spring training complex], whenever I’m going to meet those guys, and try to get a good relationship and really stick together, get to know those guys; try to get the same goal on day one. That’s what my main thing is right now.”
“About any contract stuff, they know where to call and who to talk to. I’m here just to play baseball and try to keep concentrating on playing baseball.”
The Yankees know they traded Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez, Jhony Brito and Kyle Higashioka for Soto and Trent Grisham, knowing the superstar was going to be a one-year rental.
Boras’ clients are notorious for going to free agency with the expectation that their long-term contract will be the most lucrative it can be.
But Boras is aware that the Yankees are a different breed in MLB when it comes to shelling out millions. And getting Soto within their walls for the 2024 season at least gives them the opportunity to discuss what Boras and his client are looking for in a new deal before other teams have the same access to him.
Yankees longtime GM Brian Cashman noted he hasn’t spoken to Boras about an extension, and he didn’t indicate the front office was going to do so anytime soon.
So, until that time, it’s all baseball for Soto, who won a World Series with the Washington Nationals in 2019 and helped the Padres reach the NLCS in 2022; the Yankees had a disappointing 2023 campaign in which postseason baseball wasn’t achieved.
They want to win a World Series. In fact, they’re desperate for one despite being the most winning franchise in MLB with 27 world titles. The Yankees haven’t been to the Fall Classic since 2009, when they won it all.
“It’s been the same mindset since 2018 when I got to the league: winning. That’s all I care about,” Soto told reporters.
“Right now I’m more than excited to get there and see those guys and see how big is Aaron Judge and [Giancarlo] Stanton. It’s going to be pretty cool. That’s what I’m looking for right now, is just to get comfortable on the team and watch how it’s going to be and how we’re going to grow.”
While the Yankees can certainly schmooze Soto by meeting his financial goals and show him all that New York has to offer, there’s nothing quite like winning, especially if another ring is involved.
Soto’s arrival makes their chances better to achieve that in 2024.
So, that’s his focus. The contract remains in the background.
“I think it’s not going to be that hard because I have one of the best agents in the league. So, I put everything on him and let him do his magic. For me, my mindset is coming here to play baseball and try to win a championship.”