Yankees’ Hal Steinbrenner open to in-season contract talks with Juan Soto: ‘This is a unique situation and a very unique player’

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If there’s one thing we know about Scott Boras clients who are pending free agents, it’s that contract talks don’t normally happen in-season. Why create a distraction when you’re attempting to increase your value? There’s also the part about Boras creating an offseason bidding war for his client’s services to get as big of a deal as possible.

The New York Yankees have Juan Soto for the 2024 season, and given the way he and the team have started, ownership is hoping to keep him for the rest of his career.

On the latest episode of YES Network reporter Jack Curry’s “Yankees News and Views” podcast, team owner Hal Steinbrenner expressed his desire to have Soto in pinstripes forever.

“Well, I think we’d like to see him here for the rest of his career,” said Steinbrenner. “I don’t think there’s any doubt of that. His agent, Scott [Boras], doesn’t tend to normally do deals in the middle of the season. Neither do I. I think it could be a distraction, but as I said in spring training when I met you guys, I mean, this is a unique situation and a very unique player.”

Soto is off to a hot start, batting .310 with nine home runs and 34 RBI for the 30-15 AL East leaders.

Steinbrenner went on to say he “wouldn’t be shocked” if there were conversations with Boras in-season about a deal.

“I think it’s worth doing at some point,” Steinbrenner said. “I want to get Juan time to really settle in and make sure, you know, have a conversation with him at some point. Make sure that, obviously, the most important thing, is this a place he can see himself for a long time?”

Boras wouldn’t add much to Steinbrenner’s desire to keep Soto, telling Curry that he’s “happy” to speak with the Yankees’ brass and that his client’s “singular focus is winning.”

Soto, meanwhile, said after the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins the “door has been always open” about contract days.

“Whenever [Steinbrenner] wants to start talking to Scott and all his people, they’re always open to hear whatever he has,” Soto said. “For me, I just focusing on the game right now. It is really nice to see owners and GM talking about me on their team for whole life. But at the end of the day, I’m focusing on this year, what we want to do this year and how much games we want to win and how far we want to go.”

While with the Washington Nationals in 2022, Soto reportedly rejected a 15-year, $440 million extension offer. In August of that season, unable to come to terms, the Nationals traded him to the San Diego Padres, and he signed a one-year, $23 million deal.

In January, Soto and the Yankees reached a pre-arbitration agreement on a one-year, $31 million contract following a trade from the Padres.

That contract comes to an end after this season, and after seeing what Shohei Ohtani signed for this past offseason, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Soto’s next deal — whether with the Yankees or another team — could come close to or even eclipse what the Los Angeles Dodgers paid for the two-way star.

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