John Tomase

David Ortiz wants no part of seeing Juan Soto in a Yankees uniform

Big Papi is a big fan of Juan Soto -- just not if he lands in pinstripes.

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David Ortiz has one wish for Juan Soto's next landing spot: anywhere but the Yankees.

One of the best young hitters in baseball, Soto could soon be on the move if the Padres decide to cut payroll. While Ortiz would love to cheer the three-time All-Star in a Red Sox uniform, he really doesn't want to see him in pinstripes, a rumor that has been percolating.

"He's a great kid," Ortiz said from Florida, where he's holding his 15th annual celebrity golf classic to benefit the David Ortiz Children's Fund. "He will be the perfect fit for any organization -- hard-working kid, we all know his talent. And I don't want to see him wearing the Yankees uniform."

Ortiz laughed, but he has a right to be worried, because Soto's talent speaks for itself. He just turned 25 and has already won a World Series and a batting title, while also claiming a pair of top-five MVP finishes and four Silver Slugger awards. His lifetime on base percentage of .421 ranks first among active players and 13th since 1900.

Ortiz knows Soto beyond his skills as a player. The two recently became neighbors in the same building in the Dominican, and they speak frequently.

"Anybody would like to have a guy like Juan Soto," Ortiz said. "Everybody knows what it takes to sign him. But I will say this -- I would (rather) have him on my squad than have to deal with watching him play somewhere else. It'll be interesting, what the organization is planning on doing with him."

Soto should top a record $30 million in his final year of arbitration and already turned down an extension worth more than $400 million from the Nationals, which prompted his trade to San Diego at the 2022 deadline. With over $300 million already committed to Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., and nearly that much earmarked for former Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the small-market Padres can't afford another massive extension.

That potentially makes Soto available, though it remains to be seen if the Red Sox will be willing to part with young talent to acquire him, especially for a possible rental. Further complicating matters is that they just signed Rafael Devers to a $313.5 million extension.

"That's a new thing in baseball nowadays," Ortiz said. "Everybody has a couple of $300 million guys on their roster, so I definitely would love to see someone like Juan Soto be part of the organization, because Juan Soto, he can be a franchise player any place you put him, because of his talent, his body language, his work ethic."

Ortiz noted that Soto lives with his parents, doesn't have a girlfriend, and is like "a very mature child" who's hyper-focused on doing his job. "When I talk to him, I feel like I'm talking to one of my kids," Ortiz said.

Soto's future currently sits in the hands of the Padres. The Red Sox haven't really been linked to him -- if they're going to trade for a Padres star, the right-handed hitting Tatis might be a better fit -- but the Yankees have, and that makes Ortiz uneasy.

"The guy has all the tools," he said. "And like I said, I would not be happy watching him play in pinstripes."

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