Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeSportsYankee fans' outrage forced an all-in bet on Juan Soto trade

Yankee fans’ outrage forced an all-in bet on Juan Soto trade

The Yankees make this big trade for Juan Soto, make it with no guarantee that he will be with them past next summer, for the best reason in the world, and sometimes the only one that still matters in sports:
They had no choice.
We still don’t know what else they’re going to do, what other moves they’re going to make, and if somehow they can spend their way back to the World Series the way they did the last time they made the Series, back in 2009, when they were willing to spend nearly half-a-billion dollars to sign CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. But we sure are about to find out.
“You can call us anything you want,” Brian Cashman said after the ’09 Series, after the Yankees had won Game 6 against the Phillies, “but you have to call us world champions.”
They haven’t won the Series since, or been back to the Series. And just because the Yankees have landed one of the durable young stars in baseball in Soto — at a time when they’ve so rarely kept Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the field over the past several seasons, Soto played all 162 for the Padres last season — doesn’t mean that Cashman still knows how to build a team that can go all the way.
But what we know for certain right now, knowing that Soto is on his way to Yankee Stadium, that at least for one season they are getting the kind of young star made for the Stadium the the way they most certainly did not get Bryce Harper, is that at least Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner can still read and hear. That means they can read what their own fans have been saying about them, and they can hear what their fans have been saying about them.
It is one of the big pieces of what happened on Wednesday. The Yankees got Soto, and Yankee fans got heard.
You better believe the Yankees take a great, big swing here, you better believe they do, because if they are going to keep Soto — a great, big Scott Boras client, you bet — in New York after this season, they are going to have to pay him more, and most likely a lot more, than the $360 million they paid Aaron Judge a year ago. That was when Judge was the one who had them over a barrel; when he was the player the Yankees had to keep, when he was the player the Yankees simply couldn’t afford to lose.
It wasn’t so long ago that Soto turned down a long-term, $440 million deal when he was with the Nationals. It’s how he ended up essentially being a rental in San Diego. You know what Boras is going to want if Soto doesn’t just come here and deliver himself, but delivers a World Series in the process? He’s going to want a crazy contract that will resemble the one Shohei Ohtani is about to get from the Dodgers or somebody else.
If the Yankees have made it back to the Series eleven months or so from now, the negotiation with Boras to keep Soto in pinstripes will remind you of a story the late Bob Wussler told me when he was running CBS in the old days, and was asked what it was like to negotiate a new contract for that network with the NFL, back when Pete Rozelle was the commissioner.
“It was really quite pleasant,” Wussler told me. “You’d go over to Pete’s office, and make some small talk, and he’d ask if you wanted coffee or tea. Then finally he’d come around his desk, stick a sack over your head and a gun in your ear and tell you how much the new deal was going to cost.”
The Yankees had to give up young pitching to get Soto. In the short run, that didn’t matter, either. They had to get this player. They had to make this trade. They still want to blame everything that happened to them last season on injuries and, of course, injuries had a lot to do with the bottom falling out at Yankee Stadium. But even without those injuries, and even with the way Anthony Rizzo was having a very nice season before he got concussed, the only reason to watch them — before he got hurt again — was Judge, and the chance that he might hit another one out of sight.
Then Judge was hurt and the product was as dreary at Yankee Stadium as it had been in years, and you started to get the idea that New York City FC scored more than they did. You looked at the numbers and saw their offense down there with a JV team like the Oakland A’s. It only made Yankee fans more angry, and much louder than they had ever been about the firm of Steinbrenner and Cashman.
They didn’t want the owner or the general manager to tell them things were going to change. They wanted to be shown. You know what really just happened here? Steinbrenner and Cashman were like high-profile ballplayers getting booed by their own fans, and they didn’t like it.
They know there are no guarantees Soto will stay in New York past the 2024 season. Something else that didn’t matter in the end, the way the cost of young pitchers didn’t. This is Juan Soto and they didn’t just want him. They needed him, and badly. In so many ways, Soto, at the age of 25, younger than Ohtani and a lot younger than No. 99, fits their needs as well as Ohtani would have, and the Yankees were never getting him.
The Yankees go all-in on Juan Soto. Maybe the best deal Yankee fans ever made.

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