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The $31 million man: Juan Soto sets new MLB record as Yankees avoid arbitration

Juan Soto and the New York Yankees have reached a historic one-year, $31 million deal, surpassing the previous MLB arbitration record set by Shohei Ohtani.

Acquired from the San Diego Padres in an offseason trade, Soto's record-breaking contract foreshadows the financial challenge the Yankees face as they contemplate securing the star outfielder long-term before he hits free agency at the end of the 2024 season.

Soto tops list of MLB arbitration salaries

The arbitration deadline on Thursday marked a pivotal moment in Major League Baseball, as teams and eligible players exchanged salary figures for the upcoming 2024 season.

For players with three to six years of MLB service time, arbitration becomes a key factor in determining salaries, leading to negotiations and potential third-party arbitration if agreements cannot be reached.

Juan Soto, designated as a Super Two with the ability to go through arbitration four times, is set to eclipse Ohtani's $30 million salary from the previous season.

This places Soto at the top of the list for the largest arbitration salaries in MLB history.

The largest arbitration salaries stand at:

  1. Juan Soto, 2024 Yankees: $31 million
  2. Shohei Ohtani, 2023 Angels: $30 million
  3. Mookie Betts, 2020 Dodgers: $27 million
  4. Nolan Arenado, 2019 Rockies: $26 million

The Yankees, eager to bolster their lineup, acquired Soto along with Trent Grisham from the Padres, solidifying their status as contenders for the 2024 season.

Soto focusing on 2024 production

During the press conference where Soto was introduced as a Yankee, he expressed his excitement for the upcoming season and emphasized his focus on winning.

"My priority right now is to get to know the team, get to know the guys...and try to get the same goal as they want,'' said Soto.

Regarding his future beyond 2024, Soto remained diplomatic, prioritizing team goals and leaving contract negotiations to his trusted agent.

"My contract stuff, they know where to call and who to talk to. I'm here just to play baseball. It's not going to be that hard because I have one of the best agents in the league."

Only time will tell if the Yankees can secure Soto's long-term commitment in the face of potential free-agent bidding wars.

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