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The Tuesday Discussion: Soto and Who Else?

May 21, 2024

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This week we asked our writers the following:


The Yankees have indicated they are willing to negotiate with Juan Soto during the year to get a contract done.  Let's assume that it gets done and the Yankees decided to prevent one other player from hitting free agency among Alex Verdugo, Clay Holmes, or Gleyber Torres.  Which one player do you keep and what is the contract gets it done?


Here are their responses:

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Cary Greene - Bob Nightengale is reporting that the Yankees have almost no chance at all to sign Soto to an extension in season and I'm not a fan of making assumptions, but for the fun of it and in the name of entertaining our readers, let's assume the Yankees get a deal with Soto done and prevent him from reaching free agency at the tender age of only 26. Most free agents first get to explore free agency when they are between 29 and 31-years of age - Aaron Judge was 30 when he signed his massive deal. Given that Soto is so young, it's conceivable that he sets a record not only for AAV, but he may get the longest contract ever in terms of years, so "assuming" the Yankees land him, Hal Steinbrenner's outlay of cash will be beyond significant - so much so that there will likely be nothing left over for other upgrades and that includes other in-season extensions for players like Verdugo, Holmes or Torres. 


My answer is therefore very simple. No other players would be extended if Soto were to be signed to an extension during this season and I write that statement with absolute certainty. Not only are the Yankees now three-time CBT offenders, but extending Soto would be one of the most expensive transactions any baseball team has ever made - in fact it might even be the most expensive move ever made


That said, here would be my reasoning if one of the three players we're centering on could be extended during this season after Soto was locked up. Age is always part of any extension criteria and though Gleyber Torres is the youngest of the three player's we're focussing this discussion on, he Yankees have many infield prospects in the pipeline and they really have no reason to want to sign the underperforming Torres to an extension. While Alex Verdugo is young and he's a decent two-way outfielder, the Yankees have Jasson Dominguez in their future plans so they really don't have much motivation to bring Verdugo back, especially since Trent Grisham will be back next season. 


Extending Clay Holmes would make the most sense and considering that he's one of the best closers in baseball this season but also factoring in that he'll be 32-years old next season, if the Yankees were to extend him it would likely be on a shorter term, high AAV deal. A short term, high AAV would certainly be off the table if Soto were miraculously extended, but out of the three players who are today's extension conversation candidates, Holmes would be the player the Yankees would want to extend in season. 

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Paul Semendinger - The day before the Soto trade, Bob Nightengale wrote:


"There's not enough eggnog in all of Manhattan to make them trade pitcher Michael King, pitching prospect Drew Thorpe, and a handful of other prospects while also taking on Padres center fielder Trent Grisham's projected $5-6 million contract," USA Today's Bob Nightengale wrote of the Yankees..." (https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10099622-juan-soto-rumors-yankees-wont-trade-king-or-thorpe-volpe-not-in-talks-with-padres)


Forgive me if I don't put much (any) stock in a writer who got it so wrong so definitively. Now he says, "A deal won't get done." Okay. He was wrong, drastically, before...


I have learned that a lot of inside reports turn out to be wrong. It happens all the time.


If the Yankees sign Soto, they will still have plenty of money to sign other players. We have to stop pretending that we understand the gigantic finances that MLB teams, especially the Yankees, have. According to Forbes, the Yankees revenue in 2022 was $657 million. That was 2022. It's gone up since then.


Further, The seating capacity of Yankee Stadium is 50,000 (50,287, but let's make this easy).

Let's say the average ticket price per post season game is $200.


50,000 seats x $200 a seat = $10,000,000. A game! Five games in the post season, just in ticket sales, would pay a player's $50 million salary.


In regard to the question- I think Alex Verdugo will be a one-year Yankee. The Yankees have outfielders coming up. I don't see a spot for Verdugo on the 2025 Yankees. I wouldn't sign him to many years (and he'll deserve many years). Gleyber Torres, overall, has been a plus player, but he's been much too erratic. I wouldn't give him a long term contract. Thus, of the three, the player I'd sign would be Clay Holmes. I wouldn't go many years for a closer, but I would offer three years. I'd offer 3 years at $18 m per year.

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Ethan Semendinger - The Yankees and Juan Soto are not going to break-up. There may be a messy "will they, won't they" period during some in-season and/or offseason negotiations, but Juan Soto will be a Yankee for the rest of his playing career.


We have seen it before, and it's where Hal Steinbrenner does deserve a lot of credit: he has a very good track record for getting/keeping HIS GUY. Recent examples of this are: Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge. Yes, Yoshinobu Yamamoto got away, but his going to the Dodgers feels more like him following Ohtani than the Yankees letting him be the one who got away.


All that being said, Juan Soto is not enough of an offseason for the Yankees.


But, are any of those players worthwhile to keep around going forward?


Alex Verdugo is fun. He's hitting. He's a great fielder. He seems like a great clubhouse guy. However, he is going to be entering free agency for the first time in his career. He is going to want to get a long-term contract to ensure his wealth is taken care of forever. I don't see the Yankees making him a deal to match that financial level. (Especially not with Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones waiting in the wings.)


Gleyber Torres is a player without a position on a healthy Yankees team. DJ LeMahieu is a better fielder and a better hitter who will be making less money per year than what Torres is going to want to get on the open market.


That means, Clay Holmes will be the guy to bring back. The question for him is also how much. Top tier closers make great money, and Clay Holmes has been a great reliever over the past few seasons. But, is he going to be worth the money that a guy, like Josh Hader, makes? The Yankees have been great at making great relievers out of nobodies. Is it worth it to hold up nearly $20 Million in a relief arm? In this scenario that I'd have to sign one of them, I'd say yes. You can never have enough great relief arms.

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Mike Whiteman - Of the three players listed, I'd try to hang onto Clay Holmes. Last night's game notwithstanding, I think he's an excellent relief pitcher, and seems to have the temperament that a closer needs. While the Yankees are essentially a relief pitcher factory that seemingly churns out new guys every year, it's good to have some continuity. The challenging thing with relief pitchers is to choose the right one to lock up. I think Holmes is the right pitcher. 


I'd offer up a three-year deal for about 18 million. 

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Tim Kabel - Of those three players, I would sign Clay Holmes. Gleyber Torres is having an awful season and could be replaced this season. Alex Verdugo will be expendable with Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones on the roster. I would sign Holmes for 4 years at 50 million dollars. 

13 Comments


etbkarate
May 21

I'm with you Paul, Nightengale regularly reports fake news! Regardless, based on Soto's history, I serious doubt he will sign during the season, and still say he is a 1 year rental.


He/Boros penny pinched Washington twice, and will do so in NY.


And if he did sign for a crazy amount, we can all say goodbye to other type A free agents for a long time. Like it or not, they will not break the bank for 1 guy, unless of course he wants to defer for 10 years, and the NYY can escrow a portion of that each year, so they don't get clobbered in 10 years. But based on his Washington actions, that isn't going to happen,…


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Alan B.
Alan B.
May 21

Due to the CBT rules, signing any player during the season, even a futures deal, is very problematic for the current season. But I can see a deal being announced once the regular season is over.


Grisham - the smart move would be to non tender him, especially if Pereira is still here. That saves $5.5M


Verdugo- With Soto signed, and Domingeuz ready, no need for him. Another $8.7M saved


Torres - I've never thought he was ever being extended past free agency unless he became the 3B. Well, that's not happening. Another $14.1M (I'm doing this off memory so if my figure is slightly off, I'm sorry).


I've already saved over $28M to be re-allocated between Soto and Holmes.…


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Cary Greene
Cary Greene
May 21

My main point wasn't to ride Bob Nightengale's coat tails as I formed an opinion. What people aren't factoring in is that Soto declined a 15-year, $440 million offer from the Nats, knowing that by the time he hit free agency, he'd be three to four years younger than the average first time MLB free agent.


Knowing and likely being advised that if he kept performing from the time he declined the Nat's offer through the end of this season, the Soto camp would be in position to possibly help him become the highest played player in the game. Soto knew it could/might be the perfect storm brewing and certainly, Scott Boras knew/knows it as well. 


Therefore, Soto stays out of any…


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Cary Greene
Cary Greene
May 22
Replying to

Do you think Soto will get an offer stronger than 12-years and $580 million if he waits until free agency though? I do. Oh, and yes, Soto is playing above average defense in right field this season, so by all measures, the numbers support your assessment.

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fuster
May 21

it is, of course, the wrong discussion question.


if the Yankees are able to re-sign Soto, keeping his bat in a line-up that would also feature Judge, Volpe and Dominguez, the offense will be in great shape.


the more interesting question, the one I would imagine to be in the on-deck circle, is the one exploring the alternatives

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jjw49
May 21

Torres, Verdugo and Holmes will not be signed..... the first two are obvious and Holmes less so but I think the Yankees in the end will let him walk because of money....

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