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In December, the New York Yankees acquired Juan Soto in a blockbuster, seven-player trade with the San Diego Padres knowing that he may be in the Bronx for only one season. That's because Soto is slated for free agency after the 2024 campaign, and the expectation is that he'll exercise those rights. 

That expectation became stronger on Thursday, when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman addressed that unknown. Speaking to reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, Cashman said that "the odds are this is a one-year situation" and that he doesn't see "too many things stopping him from reaching free agency."

Even though this has seemed like the reality ever since Soto was acquired, it's now coming from the GM in candid terms. As for Soto, he's a Scott Boras client, and star Boras clients tend to exercise their free-agent rights as soon as they're able to – i.e., as soon as they reach at least six years of MLB service time. Soto's also going to command a huge contract thanks to his consistently excellent production at the plate and his relative youth. 

Across parts of six major-league seasons, Soto has authored a slash line of .284/.421/.524 while averaging 133 walks and 33 home runs per 162 games played. He's highly durable, and he just recently turned 25 years of age. That .421 career OBP leads all active players, and his career OPS+ of 157 is third only to Mike Trout and new teammate Aaron Judge among active players. He's probably headed for a contract of more than $400 million next offseason, and Cashman knows it's going to be hard to nudge him off those plans. For what it's worth, Soto has in the past resisted efforts from the Nationals and Padres to sign an extension that buys out free agent years. 

If there's good news for the Yankees – beyond what Soto means to the 2024 lineup – it's that they'll still have a chance to sign him after he reaches the market. That's exactly what they did with Judge in the offseason of 2022-23. Yes, it'll be costly to bring back Soto on a free-agent contract, but the Yankees have more than enough resources to make it happen. 

Until then, though, the focus will be on Soto helping the cause in 2024. After that, it's probably open season for his services, and Cashman and the Yankees are fully aware of it as is the rest of the league.