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Yankees outfielder Juan Soto is reportedly seeking an Ohtani-sized contract in free agency this offseason

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Photo credit:© Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Georges
20 days ago
New York Yankees outfielder Juan Soto is reportedly seeking a free agent contract that rivals the AAV of the deal Shohei Ohtani signed this past winter. The hope among Yankees fans was that maybe a deal could get done either before the 2024 season started, or sometime during. As he nears closer to cashing in, one source told The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli “He’s got big eyes… I think he’s after the AAV Ohtani has, without the deferrals.”
“We recognized when we went into this situation that the odds are that it’s a one-year situation before free agency,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the MLB Network. “Certainly, that can change, I guess, but the odds are certainly against that. He’s this close to free agency. I don’t see too many things stopping him from hitting free agency.”
As he enters his sixth Major League season, it’s hard to imagine that the slugging outfielder is just 25 years old. Perhaps that is what happens when you break into the league at 19 and never look back.
Soto is one of the most consistently elite hitters in today’s game, ranking seventh in fWAR last season (6.1) and ninth since his rookie season with his 28.2 fWAR value. His patience is where he excels above and beyond his peers, as he’s led the Major Leagues in BB% in each of the last four seasons. Considering that a 10% walk rate is considered a high standard at the Major League level, Soto is consistently around 20%. This gives him an unbelievably high on-base floor, with .401 being the lowest OBP he has put up in any one season (2022) while leading the league in this category in both 2020 and 2021. He’s also coming off his best power season, mashing 35 home runs for the San Diego Padres last season.
Is there a chance that the Dominican outfielder could cash in on a similar deal to Ohtani’s? There’s a chance he could enter that territory, but it would be tough to count on it being a sure thing at this time.
It doesn’t matter how good of a hitter you are when you’re being compared to a guy who can hit and pitch at an elite level. However, the biggest reason why Soto may be able to match the AAV of Ohtani’s deal is his age. Teams may be more willing to shell out the big bucks and commitment to sign Soto since he will only be 26 years old this off-season. Comparing this to Ohtani being 29, it’s easy to see why teams would be willing to give a long-term deal to the current Yankee.
Even though a deal seems unlikely to be signed during the year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Yankees firmly in the mix to sign Soto this offseason.
There are probably only a handful of teams that can afford the kind of contract that he demands, so it will be interesting to see how it shakes out. Since Soto is a Scott Boras client, it’s fair to assume that a massive contract is the target and it won’t be until the offseason. However, with the down year that this past offseason was for Boras (can agents have down years?), we’ll see whether the trend of his clients asking for too much money continues with Soto.

 

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