Deal Struck: Yankees Set to Extend 4-Time Silver Slugger With Record $701 Million Deal….

The New York Yankees made the most impactful trade of the offseason by acquiring Juan Soto, a four-time Silver Slugger and three-time All Star in the prime of his career who will now wield perhaps the best left-handed bat in the big leagues just ahead of Aaron Judge.

Soto and the Yankees agreed on a record-breaking one-year, $31 million deal to avoid arbitration for 2024 and now he is poised to hit free agency after the season unless they agree upon an extension.

Making a “bold prediction” for 2024, Eli Ben-Porat of Baseball America wrote that the Yankees will retain their new star with a 15-year, $701 million deal, which would become the richest contract in MLB history.

“It would be a rather shocking outcome if the Yankees were to let a 25-year-old future hall of famer walk away in free agency,” Ben-Porat noted. “Does this really count as a bold prediction, projecting Juan Soto will get the biggest contract in history? Perhaps not, if you assume the Yankees do whatever it takes to keep him.”

Shortly after Soto was traded to the Yankees, two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to become the highest-paid player in MLB history by a long shot. This easily broke the record set by Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels, a $426 million 12-year extension from 2019.

Assuming he delivers on expectations this season, Soto is sure to see a robust market for his services if he does enter the free-agent market. To prevent him from doing so, the Yankees would likely have to make it clear that Soto won’t receive more from any other team — something they historically tend to do with players they want.

It’s been over a decade since Robinson Cano shocked the baseball world and left the Yankees to sign a free agent contract with a different team,” Ben-Porat added. “This happens very rarely to the Yankees, as they tend to do what it takes to retain their marquee players.”

At $701 million, though, the Yankees could be overdoing it, even for a player that’s widely seen as a generational talent who is just entering his prime years. Ohtani is an unprecedented dual threat in the batter’s box and on the mound, and he might carry some extra marketing value as a star from Japan, so his contract total might not be comparable for Soto.

Zach Britton of The Athletic has projected that Soto will earn a 14-year extension worth $540 million. But Ben-Porat projected that the Yankees will have to break the record to keep Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, from exploring other options.

Juan Soto is only a batter, and doesn’t pitch, so in any other situation, it would be unlikely he’d command as much as Shohei Ohtani,” he wrote. “However, with a top-shelf talent like Soto, making history with the largest contract in history will be a key priority for Scott Boras.”

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