The New York Yankees landed LF Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster trade on Wednesday. After multiple reports confirmed the news, the Yankees announced the trade was official late on Wednesday night. Soto, 25, is set to hit free agency in 2025, entering his final year of arbitration. So the Yankees get Soto on the cheap for at least one season, but what does the acquisition mean for their payroll long-term? We investigate.
Juan Soto trade: Impact on Yankees’ payroll
The past few seasons, it appeared the Yankees were trying to be more prudent with how they spend money. There seemed to be a reluctance to hand out massive contracts to free agents or trade for big names. As a result, 2023 ended up being one of the worst Yankees seasons in recent memory. Still, the team was able to get to 82 wins and now New York has its All-Star LF in Soto.
Soto should make around $33 million in 2024 after arbitration. The Yankees are also expected to be in on Japanese star pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who could command a contract in the $300 million range. He’s also just 25 years old and that deal could be for up to 10 years. If that’s the case, Yamamoto would make $30 million per season. So for 2024, the Yanks would be adding north of $60 million in salary for Soto and Yamamoto on top of their other signings and players in arbitration. That could mean the Yankees’ payroll gets up above $300 million after being $290M in 2023.
What might Soto’s next contract look like?
If all goes well in the Bronx, Soto should be retained on a long-term deal by the Yankees. If that’s the case, Soto’s next deal could be record-breaking. For comparison, OF Aaron Judge is making $40 million per season after signing a nine-year, $360 million deal before the 2023 season. There’s a good chance Soto sets the mark for the richest deal in MLB history. So it could be in the $43-45 million range, if not upwards of $50 million per season. If that’s the case, it’s not a huge raise on the $33M Soto should make after arbitration. It’s also a much better deal than Judge’s considering their ages. Judge signed his deal at age 30. Soto would end up signing after turning 26 years old next October.
But what about Giancarlo Stanton’s bloated contract?
Stanton still has five years left on his massive contract but here’s a buyout in the final year. While Stanton is set to make $32 million per season the next two years, after that the Miami Marlins pay a big chunk of Stanton’s salary. So the Yankees should be able to get out of Stanton’s contract after the 2025 season. Once Stanton is completely gone, the Yankees would have Soto locked into a big deal, one for a player still in his prime.
Really, the Yankees just have to get by with Stanton mixing in at DH and LF for the next two seasons. Injuries are always the issue with Stanton, but in a decreased role, he can be a strong pinch-hitter. If by some act of God, Stanton can stay healthy and return to form, he’s an MVP-caliber bat. With Soto, Judge, Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, you’d have four of those in the lineup at times. Even if Stanton is hurt half the season, the Yankees have great depth in the OF now with Soto, Judge, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, plus prospect Jasson Dominguez once he returns from Tommy John surgery.
There’s never really a reason for the Yankees to be penny-pinchers with no salary cap. Last season was a good example of what happens when the Yankees don’t go out and spend. You end up with a skeleton crew of an outfield when injuries take place. The next move for the Yankees should be signing Yamamoto to a big contract. He makes for a solid second starter behind Gerrit Cole, who is making a ton but on a pretty good deal considering he just won the AL Cy Young.
With Soto and Judge, the Yankees have a good mix of superstars in their primes and some youth with SS Anthony Volpe and Dominguez. The Yankees could also explore trading Dominguez given the OF situation is pretty solid with Soto and Judge long-term. Soto, Judge, Cole and Yamamoto as your core should keep you in playoff/World Series contention for at least the next 4-5 seasons. Even without Yamamoto, there are options for Cashman to add to the rotation. Payroll should never be a concern for the Yankees. Just go out, get the players and win.