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What Does Juan Soto's Next Contract Look Like?
Juan Soto, the 24-year-old outfielder for the San Diego Padres, has become the focal point of one of the most intriguing contract and trade sagas in recent MLB history. His 2023 season was nothing short of impressive, boasting an average of .274, hitting 35 home runs, and racking up 108 RBIs. His OPS stood at .927, placing him 9th in the league. These stats not only make him one of the most valuable players on the Padres but also one of the most sought-after talents in the league.
Soto's projected arbitration contract is expected to break records, with estimates suggesting it could be around $33 million. This would surpass the previous record of $30 million set by Shohei Ohtani just last year. While the record-breaking contract is noteworthy, the Padres' General Manager has stated that their "first path" is to extend a contract for Soto, although a trade is not off the table. Recently, there was news that the Padres want to stay around $200 million payroll. With Snell and Hader coming off the books, this is possible. However, it seems unlikely that Soto will be able to stay in San Diego long-term.
This has led to rampant speculation about Soto's future, with various teams interested in acquiring him. The New York Mets, for instance, have been contemplating what kind of package it would take to bring Soto to the Big Apple. Ironically, the Mets called it quits mid-season and traded away big pieces. They then said they are looking towards 2025. With that in mind, wouldn't it be more prudent for the Mets to wait till next December and sign him then? Of course, but the cross-town rival Yankees are also allegedly looking at Soto. But wait, don’t they have millions already invested in Stanton and Judge? And to get Soto would they have to give up Jasson? Yes, yes, and yes.
Most of the current rumored trade partners for Soto don’t make much sense. Even the Phillies, who have been said to be looking into him, took down the Braves handily. They can spread that hypothetical Soto money around and get more pieces.
No matter what, though, he is going to need to sign a deal. So, let’s take a look at what that could look like.
The financial aspect of any deal involving Soto is another point of contention. It's estimated that any extension for Soto could cost between $35-40 million per year. Given his young age, this could translate into a 14 or 15-year contract exceeding $600 million in total value. This would make it one of the largest contracts in sports history, eclipsing even Patrick Mahomes' $503 million contract in the NFL.
Interestingly, Soto had already turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer in July, leading to an eight-player deal with the San Diego Padres that was believed to shake the MLB landscape. At this point, that has not happened. The Padres missed out on the post-season after an abysmal year.
The saga surrounding Juan Soto is a complex interplay of talent, money, and strategic planning by MLB franchises. While Soto's record-breaking arbitration contract is almost a given, his long-term future remains a subject of intense speculation and debate. Will he stay with the Padres, move to another franchise like the Mets or Yankees, or perhaps become the centerpiece of another blockbuster trade? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: Juan Soto will continue to be one of baseball's most closely watched figures for years to come.
The Financial Breakdown
Given that Soto's arbitration contract is projected to be around $33 million, assuming that any long-term contract would start at a base salary of at least $35 million per year is reasonable. This would place him among the league's highest-paid players, comparable to Mike Trout and Mookie Betts.
Considering Soto's age (24 years old), a long-term contract could span anywhere from 10 to 15 years. A 14 or 15-year contract has been suggested, which would be one of the longest in MLB history. This would lock Soto in through the prime years of his career and potentially even to the end of it.
Total Contract Value
If we take a conservative estimate of $35 million per year over a 14-year period, the total contract value would be $490 million. On the higher end, a 15-year contract at $40 million per year would total a staggering $600 million. Again, it is important to remember that he turned down a massive deal with the Nationals in large part because he felt he deserved more money. That was $440 million dollars. You have to imagine he still has the same confidence and believes he deserves at least half a billion dollars.
Incentives and Bonuses
Most MLB contracts also include performance-based incentives and bonuses. Given Soto's talent and potential, it's likely that any contract would include incentives for MVP awards, All-Star appearances, and other individual achievements. These could add another $5-10 million to the total contract value.
Given the length and size of the potential contract, opt-out clauses could be a significant point of negotiation. These would allow Soto to re-enter free agency at specific points during the contract, should he wish to renegotiate or sign with another team.
Given the trade rumors surrounding Soto, a no-trade clause could be a key component of his contract. This would give him the power to veto any trade, providing an extra layer of security and control over his career.
The Final Tally
In summary, a potential contract for Juan Soto could look something like this:
Base Salary: $35-40 million per year
Contract Length: 14-15 years
Total Contract Value: $490-600 million
Incentives and Bonuses: Additional $5-10 million
Opt-Out Clauses: At least one, possibly more
No-Trade Clause: Likely
The Juan Soto saga is a fascinating case study in the economics of modern baseball, offering a glimpse into the complexities involved in signing a young, immensely talented player. Whether he stays with the Padres, moves to another team, or becomes the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade, his contract will undoubtedly set a new standard for player compensation in the MLB.