Juan Soto wearing a Phillies uniform just got a little more real

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner's recent comments cloud Juan Soto's future in New York and open the door a little more for the Phillies to possibly bring Soto to Philadelphia.
Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees
Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Juan Soto has been one of MLB's biggest stars since he debuted in 2018 with the Washington Nationals. Baseball fans could tell then he was going to be one of the game's best players. He has played a big part in the New York Yankees' excellent start in 2024. The 25-year-old leads the club with 64 hits and a .315 batting average in 53 games.

Soto is in a contract year and will be a free agent following the season. He is a client of agent Scott Boras, who is known for getting the best contracts for his clients in free agency (see the Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper deal in 2019).

Soto will be one of the most sought-after players by teams this offseason. Will the Yankees be in the mix to offer him a multi-year deal? Owner Hal Steinbrenner recently commented on the future of the organization's payroll, which brings up doubt that the three-time All-Star will be back in the Bronx beyond this season.

Juan Soto wearing a Phillies uniform just got a little more real

Could the Phillies be in the running to sign Soto away from the Yankees this offseason?

According to a piece by the New York Post's Dan Martin, Steinbrenner commented on the status of the Yankees payroll at the owners' meetings in Midtown, New York on May 22.

"I’m gonna be honest, payrolls at the levels we’re at right now are simply not sustainable for us financially," he said, per Martin. "It wouldn’t be sustainable for the vast majority of ownership [groups], given the luxury tax we have to pay. We’ve got a considerable amount of money coming off [next offseason]. We didn’t have a considerable amount of money coming off last offseason, which is why we’re at where we’re at."

Steinbrenner has been adamant about not having a contending club with a $300 million payroll. He does not deem it necessary. The Yankees have a payroll of $305 million, with $202 million already set for 2025 according to Spotrac.

"I’ve been a broken record [on this topic]: I don’t believe I should have a $300 million payroll to win a championship," Steinbrenner elaborated further, per Martin. "I believe I need a good mix of veterans, who are gonna make a lot more money, but also we’ve put a lot of money into our player development system in the last 5-10 years. And in my opinion, we have one of the better ones in baseball now.”

Soto represents the kind of rare talented player worth pursuing in free agency. The term generational talent is overused in all sports by the media. However, the outfielder is worthy of the title as he is that good of a player. Among his hitting talent, he has proven excellent at getting on base with over 100 walks in four of his previous six seasons.

Juan Soto already has Philly connections

He has played with a few Phillies players on the current roster during his time with the Nationals. Harper was a member of the team in 2018. Soto also played with Turner from 2018 until the middle of the 2021 season. Washington traded the shortstop to the Los Angeles Dodgers during this year.

Designated hitter Kyle Schwarber played with the Nats for part of 2021 until the team dealt him to the Boston Red Sox. Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long also had the same role from 2018 to 2021 with Washington. Could Soto be open to reuniting with his former teammates and hitting coach on a multi-year deal with Philadelphia?

Steinbrenner's long-term goals with the Yankees' payroll may put them out of the mix to sign Soto to a long-term multi-year deal. While the Phillies have over $235 million committed to their 2025 payroll, could they pursue the outfielder?

On Friday, Soto told media that he's wide open to listening to any team's bid in free agency, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

It will take some creativity from Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski to afford Soto but it may be worth it. His talent is rare and he would potentially put Philly in a great position to win a World Series, regardless of whether they win a championship in 2024.