Insiders predict two-team free-agency showdown for Yankees’ Juan Soto

    For a piece published on Tuesday, ESPN spoke with “28 MLB executives, agents and insiders” about the future of New York Yankees outfielder and pending free agent Juan Soto.

    Unsurprisingly, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel revealed that the Yankees and New York Mets “were by far the most common answer” regarding potential landing spots for the All-Star slugger.

    “Regardless of the roster math, given what Soto has done in his first two months in the Bronx, it’s hard to envision the Yankees anything short of all-in on retaining him this offseason,” McDaniel wrote.

    The Yankees acquired Soto from the San Diego Padres in December, and he quickly became an adored fan-favorite who recently had his name chanted when he was on the bench because of forearm inflammation. Across his first 65 games with the Yankees, Soto batted .318 with 17 home runs, 53 RBI and a 1.024 OPS.

    As of Tuesday afternoon, DraftKings Sportsbook listed Soto tied for third among the betting favorites at +475 odds to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award for this season. New York captain Aaron Judge was the overall favorite at +110 odds.

    In late May, Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay indicated that team owner Hal Steinbrenner was “not bluffing” when Steinbrenner said earlier this spring that the club’s current payroll is “not sustainable” long-term due to luxury-tax penalties. Meanwhile, one individual told ESPN that Soto could possibly ink a whopping 10-year, $655M contract in free agency.

    “The Mets are a bit harder to peg,” McDaniel continued. “President of baseball operations David Stearns is coming off a low-key first winter in that role, so how will he and owner Steve Cohen approach Soto’s free agency? Stearns hasn’t worked with a big payroll in the past, and he hasn’t tipped his hand yet on his style in high-dollar free agency.”

    Before Stearns officially joined the Mets this past October, he served as an executive with the Milwaukee Brewers from the fall of 2015 until he moved into an advisory role with the organization after the 2022 season. It’s widely assumed that Cohen, and not Stearns, will have the final say on how much the Mets will offer Soto after the 2024 World Series concludes.

    McDaniel pointed out that other franchises mentioned as possible suitors for Soto are “seen as secondary to the New York clubs at this point.” It’s unclear if Soto would instruct agent Scott Boras to give the Yankees a discount and reject more money from Cohen to stay with what’s seen by many as the more stable of the two organizations.

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