Yankees’ Steinbrenner Talks Juan Soto Possibly Topping Aaron Judge’s $360M Contract

Yankees’ Steinbrenner Talks Juan Soto Possibly Topping Aaron Judge’s $360M Contract
zach bacharContributor IFebruary 22, 2024

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Aaron Judge #99 talks with Juan Soto #22 of the New York Yankees during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 21, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by New York Yankees/Getty Images)

New York Yankees/Getty Images

New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner acknowledged that he hasn’t thought about the possibility of the team paying slugger Juan Soto a higher salary than Aaron Judge on a potential long-term contract.

“I’m not sure Judge would care if we got Juan Soto for many years to come,” Steinbrenner said on Thursday, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “But the market is what the market is, and he’s going to cost what he costs. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Judge signed a nine-year deal with the team worth $360 million in Dec. 2022, while Soto is slated to hit free agency at the end of the 2024 season.

New York acquired the three-time All-Star in a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres on Dec. 6 that involved seven total players switching organizations. Just more than a month later, the Yankees and Soto agreed to a $31 million salary for 2024 to avoid arbitration.

Despite lacking some of the individual accolades that Judge has earned, it’s certainly possible that Soto receives a larger contract in free agency. The 25-year-old is younger than Judge, who was 30 when he signed his deal, and has shown to be a bit more durable in recent seasons. Since 2021, Soto has appeared in 466 regular-season games compared to Judge’s 411.

It remains to be seen if the 2019 World Series champion will be receiving his long-term deal from the Yankees, however. General manager Brian Cashman didn’t appear optimistic about the team keeping him in New York beyond the 2024 season, telling reporters on Feb. 15 that “the odds are this is a one-year situation.”

“I don’t see too many things stopping him from reaching free agency,” Cashman said.

Steinbrenner was also non-committal about Soto’s future with the Yankees, explaining to the media on Thursday that he wasn’t able to decline the opportunity to trade for him “even if it is for one year.”

“Hopefully it’s not,” he added, per Hoch.

For now, the Yankees will focus on heading into their 2024 season with two of baseball’s top hitters in the lineup as they attempt to return to the playoffs after a disappointing 82-80 record in 2023.

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