Yankees Predicted to Lose 4-Time Silver Slugger Over $40 Million Salary

Brian Cashman

Getty The New York Yankees' blockbuster trade for Juan Soto might be a one-year rental if GM Brian Cashman can't extend him

The New York Yankees sought to field one of the most fearsome batting orders in MLB by acquiring Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres in a blockbuster trade this offseason.

As a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time All-Star who is widely considered one of the best hitters of his generation, Soto will dramatically improve the Yankees’ order by hitting just ahead of franchise star Aaron Judge this season. But then he’s set to hit free agency and projected to earn an annual salary that the Yankees won’t be able to afford, according to The Athletic’s senior MLB writer Britt Ghiroli.

“Under (owner) Hal Steinbrenner … the payroll has taken on an increased focus,” Ghiroli said during an appearance on SNY. “I don’t know if he would be willing to take on another salary that, let’s be honest, is probably going to be at least $40 million… I just don’t see how the Yankees are able to pay a guy like Soto.”

The New York Yankees Will Hit Payroll Limitations on Extending Juan Soto

Ghiroli added that Soto is looking to set a new record for the average annual value (AAV) of an MLB contract and that would be unworkable around the Yankees’ other financial commitments, which is set to include $40 million for Judge in 2025, $36 million for Gerrit Cole in 2025 and $32 million for Giancarlo Stanton in 2025

“Soto is hungry, he’s coming after the record for AAV,” according to Ghiroli. “Let’s keep in mind, Aaron Judge is on the books for quite a while, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton for the foreseeable future.”

The Yankees have already helped Soto set a record, agreeing to pay him the largest-ever salary to avoid arbitration at $31.5 million for 2024. While the Yankees could technically pay any player any amount that they wish, the significant tax penalties of increasing their payroll for 2025 and beyond seems to be something the team wants to avoid.

Those penalties were seen as the primary reason they were unable to add a much-needed star pitcher to the roster in Blake Snell this offseason.

“The Yankees have a projected $290 million payroll and are subject to some of the harshest luxury taxes if they sign more free agents,” Andy Lindquist reported for NBC Sports Bay Area. “While the Yankees have been over the luxury-tax threshold plenty of times in the past, the new collective bargaining agreement imposes stiff penalties on teams that are repeatedly over the limit.”

The New York Yankees Might Turn to Alex Bregman in 2025 Free Agency

If the Yankees are outbid for Soto’s services after this season, there could be some more affordable options on the market who also swing a strong bat. For instance, they have been linked to a potential free-agency battle for Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman.

Bregman might not fully replace Soto’s offensive potency, but he does have two All-Star bids, a Silver Slugger Award and two World Series championships on his resume.

Of course, Soto still has the chance to perform so well in 2024 that the Yankees have no choice but to match the offers to lock him up into the future. If the team realizes its World Series aspirations behind him, they might run it back in 2025 and for more years to come. But if even he does well while the team is losing games, Soto might price himself out of a return to the Yankees after this year.

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