Yankees’ 3-Time All-Star Predicted to Seek Record $46 Million Salary

Hal Steinbrenner

Getty New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner might have to offer a record salary to retain Juan Soto after this season

The early returns on the New York Yankees’ blockbuster offseason acquisition of Juan Soto couldn’t be much better, with the outfielder slashing .417/.517/.583 with four RBI and an AL-leading 10 hits in his first 24 at bats. Better yet, the team has opened the season with a five-and-one record.

Soto is currently on a one-year, $31 million deal with the Yankees and he’s set to hit free agency at the end of the season. As one of the greatest hitters of his generation, a three-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger it’s hard to imagine what kind of contract he might command, whether it’s the Yankees or another team that ultimately offers the highest bid. 

Reporting on the imminent bidding war for Soto’s services, Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic revealed that a source from Soto’s time with the Washington Nationals expects the slugger to pursue the largest yearly salary in MLB history.

“I think he’s after the AAV (average annual value) Ohtani has, without the deferrals,” the source said.

A $46 Million AAV for Juan Soto Without Deferrals Would Be a Hefty Price for the New York Yankees

Shohei Ohtani’s contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers carries a $46 million AAV, with its total $700 million value is deferred over a long timeline to reduce the impact on the team’s tax hit. Without similar deferrals, such a price for Soto would be a significant burden for any team, though it certainly seems possible he will achieve his salary goal.

“Of the half-dozen executives The Athletic polled, only one was wary of committing that much money to Soto, whose age and skill set — he already owns a 28.5 WAR — have virtually no free-agent comparison,” Ghiroli added. “Soto is months away from a massive payday somewhere.”

Ghiroli has previously predicted that the kind of annual salary Soto is looking for will be too much for the Yankees, though her colleagues at The Athletic, Chris Kirschner and Brendan Kuty have projected that his current team will be able to lock him up into the future with a $600 million deal. 

The New York Yankees Will Have Competition if They Seek to Re-Sign Juan Soto

If he does indeed hit the free-agent market, virtually every competitive team will likely seek to enter the sweepstakes for his bat. Writing for Bleacher Report, Zachary Rymer listed the New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs in addition to the Yankees as potential landing spots.

One of the only substantive measures of just how high Soto’s next contract might go is in the fact that he declined a $440 million offer from Nationals in 2022. Reflecting on that decision, the slugger framed the bet on his future value as one that could help future players secure the highest possible salaries.

“You cannot be selfish. You have to think about the guys who come in behind you,” Soto said, per Ghiroli. “And if I were to take anything down there (with what the Nationals offered) it would make it different, tougher for guys coming up.”

As a result, Soto seems likely to earn a record-setting contract for the 2025 season and beyond, setting a new precedent for the free agents that will come afterward.

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