Juan Soto drops a bombshell on Yankees plans to seal an in-season deal

Yankees' Juan Soto signals to sky after hitting a home run against the San Diego Padres, May 24, 2024, in San Diego.

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Amid talks of the Yankees eager for an in-season deal to keep him in pinstripes for the long term, Juan Soto has clearly indicated his willingness to keep the free-agency option open.

While speaking to reporters before his revenge game at Petco Park, the Yankees slugger maintained a businesslike approach when addressing his future and a potential massive payday looming in free agency next offseason.

“We ain’t closing any doors,” Juan Soto responded, via Sammy Levitt of 97.3 The Fan when asked about his free agency plans. “Whoever wants to talk about deals and stuff, I’m open to deal with anybody.”

Juan Soto’s remarks a shock to Yankees fans

The 25-year-old outfielder said he wasn’t closing any doors, according to remarks he made prior to his home run in the Yankees’ 8-0 rout of the Padres on Friday night. Juan Soto put the Yanklees at par with other suitors and said he was open to negotiating with any team interested in discussing a deal, but that would be for the future, explaining his current focus is on the 2024 season and winning a championship.

“We’re going to see if we make it to the future, but right now,” he said. “I’m focusing on 2024. I’m a Yankee right now. My goals are really clear, to win a championship.” 

Yankees' Juan Soto rounds after hitting as homer against the padres that came in the backdrop of boos at San Diego on May 24, 2024.

Juan Soto’s comment about making it to the future seemed to hint at leaving the door open for an in-season extension with New York, something owner Hal Steinbrenner recently said he hoped to discuss, though it still appears overwhelmingly likely the outfielder will reach free agency.

It wasn’t long ago that the Padres and Nationals before them were the ones discussing extensions to keep Juan Soto in their respective organizations long-term.

Juan Soto said he thought he’d still be a Padre this year until about a week before the December trade that required the Yankees to part with prospects Michael King, Drew Thorpe, Randy Vasquez, Jhony Brito, and Kyle Higashioka. He called the situation a little uncomfortable but part of the business side he learned about with Washington. The slugger made it clear that there were no hard feelings and he was preparing to stay in San Diego before they changed his plans by trading him to the Yankees’ storied franchise.

The superstar outfielder, however, admitted that he was happy to be playing in pinstripes.

Juan Soto’s willingness to discuss an in-season extension with the Yankees has gained traction after reports last week suggested the slugger was “open to in-season negotiations” with his new club. He was acquired by New York ahead of the 2024 season in a trade with the Padres, a risky move considering he could hit free agency after just one year in the Bronx.

So far, the gamble appears to be paying off. Juan Soto is hitting .315/.413/.581 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs. He is the current AL MVP favorite, per DraftKings odds, and has propelled the Yankees to a 36-17 start atop the talented AL East.

Yankees' slugger Juan Soto at Yankee Stadium on May 17, 2024.

While re-signing the 25-year-old star seems like a no-brainer, the Yankees’ massive payroll presents an obstacle. The team entered 2024 with the second-highest payroll behind only the Mets, and Soto’s $31 million salary already has them headed toward a hefty luxury tax bill. He is poised for a huge contract in the range of beyond $500 million given his stellar career production.

However, with Juan Soto joining three teams in the last three years and his comments about keeping the door open for all, the Yankees’ chances of keeping him for long term is surely going to be tested.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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