HomeMLB RumorsHal Steinbrenner Comments On Possible Juan Soto Extension

Hal Steinbrenner Comments On Possible Juan Soto Extension

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Yankees chairman Hal Steinbrenner appeared on the Yankees News & Views podcast today and host Jack Curry of the YES Network asked him about the possibility of extending superstar outfielder Juan Soto. The YES Network shared a video clip on X.

“I think we’d like to see him here for the rest of his career,” Steinbrenner said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt of that.” He goes on to say that Scott Boras, Soto’s agent, doesn’t normally do extensions midseason. Steinbrenner says he generally prefers to avoid talks during the season as well so that they don’t become a distraction, but that Soto is a special case.

That’s due to Soto’s obvious talents but also since he’s only been a Yankee for a few months, having been acquired from the Padres in December with just one season left to go before he’s slated to reach free agency. Steinbrenner said he wanted to give Soto some time to get to know the organization before getting into talks about long-term plans. “I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a conversation or two had, possibly during the course of the season.”

In the latter half of the clip shared above, Curry relays that he contacted Boras about what Steinbrenner said. Boras said he is always willing to talk to Steinbrenner but that Soto is focused on winning.

Soto himself was asked about the comments after this afternoon’s game and echoed what Boras said, with the YES Network sharing a clip on X of those as well. “My door is always open,” Soto said. “Whenever he wants to start talking with Scott and all his people, they’re always open. They’re always open to hear whatever he has. And for me, I just focus on the game right now.”

The topic of Soto’s future free agency, or an extension to prevent that free agency from happening, has been a topic of conversation for quite a long time. That’s on account of how he debuted at such an unusually young age and also due to him finding immediate success that he has maintained or improved. Soto debuted with the Nationals in 2018 when he was only 19 years old. He hit 22 home runs in 116 games while drawing walks in 16% his plate appearances. His .292/.406/.517 batting line translated to a 146 wRC+.

He’s never provided much in terms of speed or defense, but his combination of power and plate discipline is exceptional and has remained quite consistent. He currently has 169 home runs in his career and an 18.7% walk rate, while striking out just 16.9% of the time. He has slashed .286/.420/.525 overall and has a 155 wRC+, which includes a .310/.408/.530 line and 170 wRC+ as a Yankee this year.

Those skills and his age put him on course for a massive contract. Most free agents reach free agency for the first time in the vicinity of their 30th birthday but Soto is still just 25. He’ll turn 26 on October 25, just before he’s slated to hit the open market.

The fact that Steinbrenner is interested in an extension is somewhat notable since the club doesn’t do them very often. MLBTR’s Contract Tracker shows that they have done just three in the past decade, which were for Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks and Aroldis Chapman. Those deals didn’t go especially well for the most part and the club may not be thrilled at doing more extensions in general, but Soto is clearly in a different stratosphere than those players. That Steinbrenner is willing to make an exception here is unsurprising, but actually getting it done won’t be cheap.

Back in 2022, the Nationals reportedly offered Soto $440MM over 15 years. When he rejected that overture, they decided to trade him instead, which is how he came to be a Padre. While that may be a massive sum to leave on the table, he’s already earned himself a decent chunk of that. Since turning down that deal, he made $23MM last year and is making $31MM this year, his final two arbitration seasons. That means any contract higher than $386MM will prove that he made a wise financial decision in turning it down.

Last month, Boras revealed that the late Peter Seidler tried to get a deal done to keep Soto in San Diego. However, Seidler’s deteriorating health got in the way of the talks and he passed away in November. The next month, Soto was traded to the Yankees as the Padres’ financial situation forced them to make budget cuts.

Keeping Soto away from the open market is obviously going to be a challenge. Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman admitted as much in February. “The odds are this is a one-year situation,” he said. “I don’t see too many things stopping him from reaching free agency.”

There has been all kinds of speculation about what kind of number it would take to get Soto’s signature on a contract. The round number of $500MM is often thrown around as a speculative ballpark figure, but that’s really just a guess.

Since Soto is now just a few months away from the open market, there’s little incentive for him to accept anything except free agency prices. The largest contract in MLB history is Shohei Ohtani’s recent ten-year, $700MM pact with the Dodgers. The heavy deferrals on the deal make the net present value closer to the $435-465MM range, though that adjusted figure still makes it the largest ever, both in terms of total guarantee and average annual value.

Soto obviously doesn’t have the two-way abilities of Ohtani nor the same international marketing power, but Ohtani is now 29 and about to turn 30, meaning Soto will be marketing three to four extra prime years compared to Shohei. That youth is clearly valuable to teams, as was recently seen with the Yoshinobu Yamamoto free agency. Going into his age-25 season, he drew widespread interest despite having no major league experience. He eventually shattered expectations when he signed for $325MM over 12 years, plus a posting fee of over $50MM.

The Yankees have long been one of the biggest spenders in baseball, but they have a decent amount of money on the books already. Between Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Rodón, they have four players making $25MM or more through 2027 or longer. The Marlins are paying down a bit of Stanton’s deal but the Yankees already have almost $150MM committed to books three years down the line, per Roster Resource.

For a generational talent like Soto, they likely wouldn’t care much about adding another huge contract to the pile. Still, Boras might want to wait a few more months to see what teams like the Mets, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Phillies or others have to offer. Getting them to the table would increase the chances of a bidding war driving up prices and the Yanks might have to put down a huge number to stop that from happening.

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