The Real Deal: Yankees will pay up for Juan Soto, ex-player says. $520M? ‘They’re not trying to cut costs’…

All that (fan) talk about Hal Steinbrenner and his New York Yankees being cheap … and thus having little chance to sign Juan Soto when he’s a free agent next offseason? A former player doesn’t buy it.


Speaking on the “Foul Territory” show on Thursday, Erik Kratz, a journeyman catcher who spent two seasons with the Yankees, explained why he thinks the Yankees will ultimately give Soto what he wants.

“Do they get everybody? They don’t get everybody?” Kratz asked, chuckling. “The last two years, they have gotten the best players available in the market. They got Carlos Rodón and they got Juan Soto. … They’re not trying to cut costs. They’re trying to win and it is very blatant.

“If Juan Soto has the year everyone thinks Juan Soto is going to have — (hit) .280 with a .400 on-base percentage with 100 (RBI) and the Yankees make it to the World Series, you know what, Juan Soto is going to cost $520 million and the Yankees will be talking to him because of a whole year of getting to know this guy.”

Former major leaguer Todd Frazier, who played for the Yankees and Mets, agreed with Kratz about Soto — and that Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ highest-paid player, would have no problem ceding that title. “He’s fit for New York,” Frazier said.

Soto has not even put the pinstripes on in a game yet, but the discussion about the 25-year-old’s future will follow him all season. As a Scott Boras client and one who turned down $440 million from the Nationals in 2022, per reports, Soto is a lock to test the market and take the best deal.

Even under the New York limelight, Soto is expected to thrive because over six years, he’s built a Hall of Fame-worthy start to his career: 28.6 WAR (Baseball Reference), .284/.421/.524 line with 160 home runs and 483 RBI (157 OPS+).

Steinbrenner would have to pay a lot more for Soto than he did for Judge in December 2022 ($360 million), and MLB sources told NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller they thought it was doubtful to happen. But NJAM’s Bob Klapisch wrote this week he saw Judge sending a signal that he’d be OK with Soto earning the bigger salary because it would mean a better chance at winning.

“If it’s within the realm of still being able to field a good team and it makes their team better … that’s what teams do, teams that want to win,” Kratz said. “They want to make their teams better at all costs. … So if Juan Soto will make them better for the next 12 years — like his contract could be — or 14 years, they will sign it.”

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