Which New York Team Will Land MLB’s New HR Derby King?
Newly minted MLB Home Run Derby champion Juan Soto put on a show Monday night in Los Angelas. The 23 year-old Nationals outfielder is fresh off of declining a 15-year/$440 million offer from Washington to stay put in the nation's capital. Only a few teams in Major League Baseball seem willing to stomach contract numbers like that and two of them reside in the Big Apple.
Both New York teams head into the second half of the 2022 season in first place with eyes on a realistic shot at a World Championship. Both quests in the Bronx and in Queens could be a lot more obtainable if provided the services of the power-hitting corner outfielder. But who needs Soto more, the Yankees or the Mets?
The obvious answer, to me, would appear to be the Bronx Bombers. How many times can Yankees fans stomach watching Joey Gallo and his paltry .164 batting average come to the plate and hit a home run with the team up by seven, only to watch him feebly strike-out with the game on the line? Well, it's a lot easier when you own a 13 game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. But, general manager Brian Cashman knows opportunities to win a World Series can be fleeting. Juan Soto in the middle of that line-up would almost guarantee the first ring for the Pinstripes since 2009.
However, if the Yankees were to meet the Washington Nationals asking price, of a ton of top-tier prospects for the new HR Derby King, would they be willing to let him walk away after the season? If Cashman wouldn't give the ever popular Aaron Judge the $300 million contract that he desired, how could he possibly be open to the $400 million it will take to sign Soto? He won't. And that is why Soto isn't going to the Bronx.
Mets owner Steve Cohen is determined to give (buy) the Amazin's faithful a World Championship. Juan Soto is better than any player on his roster. Cohen is one of MLB's owners that is willing to open up the wallet to the level that Soto is looking for. It didn't take Max Scherzer very long to figure that out.
But will the Mets brass be willing to part with enough talent to their Eastern Division rival to land the 23 year-old outfielder? That is the tricky question. Do the Mets really want to make Washington that much better and that much deeper with prospects? Doing so could be very short-term thinking. However, when you have not won a World Series Championship in 36 years, how long-term do you really need to be thinking? In my opinion, Juan Soto is a better fit for the Yankees and their championship quest. However, the Derby King just might be the player that gives Steve Cohen the World Series ring that he and every Mets fan desires. It should be a fun couple of weeks.