Amid Yankees’ funny moniker stunt, Juan Soto turns candid on contract talks

Juan Soto responds to a roll call by fans during his first Yankees game at Yankee Stadium on April 5, 2024.

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In honor of Star Wars Day, the New York Yankees decided to bestow a special nickname upon their All-Star slugger Juan Soto during Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

As Juan Soto stepped up to the plate, the jumbotron at Yankee Stadium showcased a cleverly edited image of the slugger sporting the iconic jacket worn by the character Han Solo, accompanied by the fittingly adapted moniker “Juan Solo.”

Drawing parallels between Juan Soto and the legendary Han Solo character, the Yankees have ample justification. The 25-year-old phenom boasts an impressive .318 batting average, with eight home runs and 42 runs batted in, all contributing to the Yankees’ commendable 22-13 record as of Saturday.

Juan Soto’s exceptional knack for getting on base has proven to be a game-changer for the Yankees. He currently leads Major League Baseball in walks and tops the American League in on-base percentage, playing a pivotal role in the team’s success.

Juan Soto or Juan Solo?

Juan Soto bows down to fans during his first Yankees game at Yankee Stadium on April 5, 2024.
NYY

A savvy X user, @Ben_Yoel, cleverly spun the “Juan Solo” nickname to hint at the possibility of Juan Soto departing New York after this season, shedding light on the slugger’s contractual status. Indeed, the slugger’s contract is due to expire after the 2024 season.

When questioned by Jon Heyman of The Post regarding his inclination to remain with the Yankees, Juan Soto indicated that it was premature to make such a decision at this stage.

Ahead of the Yankees’ 5-3 triumph over the Tigers, Juan Soto remarked that he is presently in the process of familiarizing himself with the team. He stressed that drawing conclusions based solely on one month of play would be premature, underlining the importance of observing the team’s performance over the entire season to grasp its dynamics fully.

“I mean, right now I’m still learning the team. You cannot tell from one month into the season,” he said. “You’ve got to see how it’s going to be all the way until the season ends.”

Nonetheless, Juan Soto doesn’t hide his enjoyment of being in New York. Unlike his time with the struggling 2023 Padres, it’s evident that he seamlessly integrates with the Yankees.

Juan Soto expressed his contentment with the experience, noting that he had been thoroughly relishing it. He described it as a fantastic opportunity, highlighting the camaraderie among the players. The Yankees slugger emphasized the positive team atmosphere, expressing that they all feel at ease playing alongside each other, which has made the overall experience truly enjoyable thus far.

The road ahead for Juan Soto’s Yankees contract

Yankees' Juan Soto at the plate on April 26, 2024.
X-NYY

Juan Soto epitomizes the qualities of an ideal Yankee—talented, resilient, and at just 25 years old. He consistently reaches base at an impressive rate, delivers towering home runs, and at times carries the team almost single-handedly.

The Yankees slugger consistently exhibits the right demeanor and words, usually accompanied by a smile. It’s evident that he genuinely enjoys his time in New York unless he’s as adept at acting as he is at batting.

One aspect he particularly cherishes is the Bleacher Creatures’ roll call.

When it comes to Juan Soto’s deliberation about his future with the Yankees, it’s reasonable that he’s taking his time to weigh his options. This cautious approach is understandable, considering his reluctance to commit to the Washington Nationals after spending 3 ½ years with the team, a tenure that included winning a World Series championship.

Reports suggest that the average annual value (AAV) of the Nationals’ $440M, 15-year offer, which came without deferrals, was slightly above $29M, a figure considered somewhat low by Juan Soto. Another factor contributing to his hesitation was purportedly the uncertainty surrounding the Nationals at the time, as the team was up for sale. Clearly, Juan Soto is in a position where he can carefully evaluate his choices.

Even superstar players sometimes encounter a limited market when they reach free agency, but this shouldn’t be the case for Soto, who has many prime years ahead of him.

At just 25 years old, it’s rare for players to enter free agency at such a young age.

One example is Alex Rodriguez, who secured a monumental $252M deal with the Texas Rangers in 2000, doubling the record contract for any North American team sport (previously held by Kevin Garnett’s $126M contract). Rodriguez’s contract also featured the first-ever opt-out clause, which has since become a standard inclusion in player contracts.

Similarly, Bryce Harper hit free agency at a young age and, despite a sub-2 WAR in his walk year, still inked a record-breaking deal worth $330M over 13 years.

Juan Soto may tread a similar path, but few players have navigated their careers as adeptly as he has. For now, the star slugger is simply postponing his response to the significant question surrounding his future with the Yankees.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

One thought on “Amid Yankees’ funny moniker stunt, Juan Soto turns candid on contract talks

  1. Soto’s not a fool. Even if he thinks he might like to be a Yankee longterm, he’s not going to say that & ruin his negotiation position.

    All we can do as Yankee fans is sit back and enjoy watching this extraordinarily talented player perform for us this year.

    One thing we’ve learned for certain about Soto is that he hasn’t wilted under the pressure of playing in NYC in his walk year. That tells us how Soto handles performing under extreme pressure, which is a good omen if we make it into the playoffs.

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