Juan Soto: Focused on bringing Yankees a title, not next contract

League: MLB

Posted on: 13 Dec, 2023 at 02:03 AM

Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Did the New York Yankees trade several assets to the San Diego Padres to get Juan Soto as a one-year rental, or will Soto sign an extension?

That's the question on Yankees fans' minds as the team introduced Soto via Zoom news conference on Tuesday.

Soto deferred contract talk to his agent, Scott Boras.

"Any contract stuff, they (the front office) know where to call and who to talk to," Soto said. "I'm here just to play baseball."

Soto is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2024 season. Boras' clients are known to go to free agency in search of headline-grabbing paydays.

"My priority is to get to know the team and get to know the guys right now," Soto said. "For me, I'm going to the team ... and try to get a good relationship and stick together to get to know those guys. And try to get the same goal on day one. That's my main thing right now."

The Yankees acquired Soto and fellow outfielder Trent Grisham from San Diego last Wednesday in exchange for right-handers Jhony Brito, Randy Vasquez, Michael King and Drew Thorpe and catcher Kyle Higashioka.

In Soto, New York added a much-needed lefty bat to try to better capitalize on the 314-foot "short porch" in Yankee Stadium's right field. Soto will share an outfield with Judge and Alex Verdugo, whom the Yankees acquired in a deal with the rival Boston Red Sox.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week that the team hasn't talked with Soto about an extension yet, but the team wants him to stay long-term.

"I don't think it's going to be that hard" to focus on baseball instead of his next contract, Soto said. "Scott Boras is my agent. I put everything on him and let him give his advice. My mindset is to come here to play baseball and try to win a championship."

Soto, 25, helped the Washington Nationals win the 2019 World Series and finished second in National League MVP voting in 2021 before the Nationals traded him to the Padres during the 2022 season.

Soto only stayed 1 1/2 seasons in San Diego. The Padres missed the 2023 playoffs before making the deal with the Yankees.

Soto played in all 162 games last season and led the majors with 132 walks while batting .275 and slugging .519. He had 35 home runs and 109 RBIs. He is a .284 career hitter with 160 homers and 483 RBIs over 779 games since debuting in 2018.

--Field Level Media