Juan Soto signals to Yankees: ‘Winning. That’s all I care about’

Yankees acquired Juan Soto via trade on Dec 5, 2023.
MLB
John Allen
Wednesday December 13, 2023

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In his initial media appearance since joining the Yankees in the recent transformative trade with San Diego, Juan Soto emphasized his goal of securing a championship for the Bronx.

“My mindset has remained consistent since 2018 when I entered the league: Winning; that’s all I care about,” stated Juan Soto, attired in a Yankees hat and a gold chain featuring his No. 22, during a virtual introductory session on Tuesday.

The slugger emphasized that his primary focus revolved around winning. Every time he stepped onto the field, his sole objective was achieving victory. Reflecting on his experience winning the World Series in 2019 with the Nationals, Juan Soto described it as a fantastic feeling and expressed his desire to pursue that success once more.

The Yankees’ relentless pursuit of a championship, a hallmark of their World Series-focused strategy, motivated them to trade a substantial five-player package to the Padres for the highly productive Juan Soto. It’s worth noting that the slugger holds the potential to enter free agency after the conclusion of the 2024 season.

The Yankees love of Juan Soto

Yankees acquired Juan Soto via trade on Dec 5, 2023.
theyankeereport

On the evening Juan Soto officially joined the New York Yankees, he found himself engaged in a game of Nintendo with his friends when he received a call from San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller. For weeks, Soto had been the subject of persistent trade rumors as the Padres sought to reduce payroll.

Upon hearing from Preller that he was bound for New York, the 25-year-old experienced a mix of positive and negative emotions. Despite being comfortable in San Diego, Juan Soto revealed that after the trade, he had conversations with Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts and right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. about the missed opportunity of staying together. Nevertheless, he was also excited about the prospect of joining the Yankees.

“It’s just great,” Juan Soto said. “More than excited to be right here, to be in the spot that I am. It’s really exciting to see this organization and try to be part of it for the next season. I’m really excited to join the team.”

Since their last World Series victory in 2009, the Yankees have faced a dry spell, culminating in an 82-80 season without a playoff appearance, marking their poorest record in thirty years.

Despite Juan Soto’s online introduction being less extravagant than previous player unveilings, such as Derek Jeter assisting Alex Rodriguez into his pinstriped jersey in 2004 or Gerrit Cole revealing a homemade Yankees sign from his youth in 2019, Tuesday symbolized a significant day for the 27-time champions.

Juan Soto mentioned his determination to maintain a positive outlook and bring daily energy to the team. He emphasized that his primary contribution would be fostering a positive atmosphere, supporting his teammates, and striving for a championship, placing more importance on creating a good vibe and mutual support than just the numbers.

“I’m going to be positive,” he said. “I’m going to bring energy every day. I think that’s what I gotta bring to the table. Everybody knows about the numbers and everything, but I think my main thing is just to bring the energy and give those guys a good vibe, to support each other and try to win a championship.”

Juan Soto ready to usher in a new era

Certainly, Juan Soto’s statistics are exceptional. At just 25 years old, he has already secured four top-10 finishes in NL MVP voting, clinched three Silver Slugger Awards, earned a batting title, and achieved three consecutive seasons as the MLB walks leader. His career on-base percentage of .421 ranks as the 19th-best in MLB history.

The Yankees are optimistic that pairing Juan Soto with the equally outstanding Aaron Judge can revitalize an offense that languished in the previous season, ranking 27th among MLB teams with a .304 OBP. Following the trade, Juan Soto disclosed that Judge, along with teammates Cole, Anthony Rizzo, and Gleyber Torres, reached out to him.

Juan Soto mentioned that the team expressed genuine excitement about having him join them. He mentioned their anticipation of meeting him during spring training, exchanging ideas, and connecting as a group. He found it meaningful and special that they reached out to convey their enthusiasm, considering it a significant gesture.

“They told me they’re really excited to have me on the team and they are looking forward to meeting me in spring training and to get together and share thoughts and everything,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be really fun. That means a lot for me. That was really special that they reached out to me and let me know how excited they are.”

Anticipating a smooth integration, Juan Soto envisions aligning effortlessly with an organization that, according to him, genuinely prioritizes the well-being of its players. The duration of his tenure as an impending free agent in New York remains uncertain, sparking curiosity. However, Juan Soto emphasizes his current concentration on the game of baseball.

Juan Soto expressed his immense enthusiasm about his current situation, describing it as fantastic to be in the position he was in. He found it thrilling to observe the organization and looked forward to potentially becoming a part of it in the upcoming season. His excitement to integrate into the team was palpable.

Juan Soto is focused on winning the World Series

Yankees' target Juan Soto during a game in the colors of the Washington Nationals.

During his introductory news conference in a Tuesday videoconference, Juan Soto conveyed his enthusiasm about transitioning from one championship-contending team to another. He highlighted maintaining the same winning mindset he adopted since joining the league in 2018. His sole focus remained on winning, a perspective he carried onto the field every day. Reflecting on the incredible feeling of winning the World Series in 2019, Juan Soto expressed his desire to replicate that success. His unwavering mindset revolved around pursuing victory, a stance that persisted throughout his career.

In addition to contributing to the Yankees’ quest for a championship, a significant narrative in the upcoming season revolves around whether Juan Soto will commit to a long-term extension before entering free agency or opt to explore the market in the following offseason, possibly resulting in a brief, one-year association. Given that Scott Boras represents Juan Soto, there is a strong expectation that the Yankees won’t negotiate a new contract with him until the next winter. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged last week that he comprehends the likelihood of Soto exploring opportunities with a different team around the same time next year.

Nevertheless, the Yankees have an entire year to persuade Juan Soto that the Bronx should be his permanent home throughout his career.

Juan Soto emphasized that his immediate focus was on familiarizing himself with the team and building relationships with his teammates. He mentioned that regarding any contract-related matters, the appropriate contacts were aware of whom to reach out to and how to proceed. His primary objective remained centered on playing baseball and contributing to the team.

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Ultimately, this city boasts the largest media market in the nation, and the Yankees command the most attention. The persistent question of whether Juan Soto will choose to remain in New York is poised to be a recurring theme over the next 12 months. The most straightforward path for the Yankees to persuade Juan Soto for a long-term commitment is through winning. Soto expressed that facing the impending free agency in the upcoming season won’t be challenging for him, as he trusts in having “the best agent in the league” and relies on him to work his magic on his behalf.

Juan Soto articulated that he plans to utilize the next year to deepen his understanding of the team and organization, aiming to determine if the Yankees are the optimal fit for his long-term aspirations.

The slugger expressed his excitement about the prospect of meeting Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, jokingly commenting on their impressive stature. He looked forward to the experience and anticipated getting comfortable with the team dynamics while observing their growth together.

The Yankees are optimistic that the addition of Juan Soto to their lineup, forming a formidable duo with the 2022 American League MVP Aaron Judge, will serve as a catalyst for an offense that ranked 25th in MLB for runs scored. There’s a belief that his numbers, particularly his home run tally, could see improvement with the Yankees.

For Juan Soto, playing for the Yankees holds special significance as he has uncles residing nearby on both sides of his family, and a number of his friends from the Dominican Republic have relocated to New York City. The Dominican community, particularly in the Bronx, is substantial and ranks among the largest in the United States. Notably, Robinson Cano, another player hailing from the Dominican Republic, enjoyed immense popularity among Yankees fans. Juan Soto, proud of his Dominican heritage, now stands as the most prominent Dominican star for the Yankees since Cano. Consequently, he is poised to become one of the team’s most beloved players, especially within the vibrant Dominican community in New York.

Despite the potential for popularity, Juan Soto’s primary focus is not on winning a contest for fan favor. His commitment to the Yankees is driven by the desire to secure his second championship in his career.

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