Juan Soto signals, ex-GM points to slugger’s readiness for long haul with Yankees

Juan Soto strikes a pose during the Yankees spring training games in February 2024.

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With speculations rife over the future of his with the Yankees, Juan Soto has come up with hints about his willingness to continue in the Bronx after the upcoming season. During a recent interview with The Athletic, he tried to clarify his refusal for a contract extension with the Nationals and tried to present himself as one who fans can rely on for long-term commitment.

Initial speculations suggested Juan Soto might stay for a single season before entering free agency. This aligns with the fact that the Yankees’ attempt to initiate long-term contract negotiations before spring training was rejected by both the slugger and his agent, Scott Boras.

Even general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged the likelihood of Juan Soto having a one-year stint with the Yankees, stating to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, “the odds are, this is a one-year situation.” However, a $31 million contract agreement was reached between Juan Soto and the Yankees, setting a new record salary for arbitration-eligible players.

This development has fueled speculation about the possibility of Juan Soto not extending his stay in New York. Former MLB General Manager Jim Bowden, a contributor to The Athletic, expressed this sentiment, offering hope to fans who wish to see the slugger remain with the Yankees beyond the upcoming season.

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When asked about Juan Soto’s potential location for Opening Day 2025, Bowden speculated that the star slugger would likely be with the Yankees. He expressed the belief that the Dominican would enjoy playing in New York and anticipated a mutual affinity between him and the team.

If the initial indications are a telltale, his prediction might hold true: Juan Soto and Aaron Judge have swiftly formed a close bond. The former mentioned that his connection with Judge surpasses his initial expectations.

“I knew he was a great guy, but I didn’t know he was that good,” Juan Soto told about Judge. “Everything, his vibe, everything is good. He’s just thinking positive and he’s just trying to win as much as he can.”

The Yankees captain also expressed reciprocal feelings by stating, “He’s a New York Yankee. His first year here, I wanted to make it a good one. I want it to be his best year. If he’s feeling right and he’s doing his thing, that’s only going to take us one step closer to a World Series.”

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Cashman mentioned that if Juan Soto appears to genuinely enjoy his time with the team, they might consider fostering an environment where such opportunities can arise.

Certainly, Juan Soto might opt to remain in New York. But with the Mets tightening their budget and economizing this season, owner Steve Cohen may eventually feel inclined to open up his checkbook once more, making the slugger the most coveted free agent available next season.

Juan Soto harps back on love for old team to indicate his commitment for long run

Juan Soto, set to begin his tenure with the New York Yankees in the coming weeks, will have played for his third major league team before turning 26. While his future free agency holds the potential for a record-breaking contract, possibly with the Yankees or another team, the star outfielder acknowledges a sentimental connection to the Washington Nationals, the organization that initially drafted and developed him.

In an interview with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, Juan Soto expressed his fondness for the Nationals, stating that he “would have loved the opportunity” to spend his entire career with the team.

The slugger expressed his reluctance to leave Washington, emphasizing his strong attachment to the team. He mentioned feeling comfortable and at home there, having known everyone from the bottom to the top of the organization. Juan Soto indicated that he was content and had established roots in Washington, even owning a house there. Despite this, the decision to trade him came unexpectedly. He respected the team’s decision because they communicated it clearly, particularly highlighting his respect for general manager Mike Rizzo in handling trade matters transparently. Juan Soto admitted that he never anticipated leaving D.C. and had envisioned staying with the team for his entire career.

In the 2022 season, Juan Soto was presented with a contract extension offer from the Washington Nationals valued at $440 million over 15 years. He ultimately declined the offer, a decision that could prove financially beneficial based on current projections.

Juan Soto as a San Diego Padres' player
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Industry analysts currently anticipate Juan Soto to command a contract exceeding $500 million upon reaching free agency after the 2024 season. This potential future windfall may have played a role in his decision to decline the Nationals’ extension offer.

The emotional reaction displayed by Juan Soto during his trade from the Nationals to the San Diego Padres in the summer of 2023 likely stemmed from this significant juncture in his career, marking his departure from the organization that drafted and developed him.

Juan Soto acknowledged that ultimately, the team demonstrated to him the realities of the business side of baseball, emphasizing the need to navigate and learn from such experiences. This way, the slugger tries to dismiss efforts at presenting him as a player without a long-term commitment to a team.

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