Bold predictions from MLB insider include Yankees hit trade | To analyse

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Talk about a dynamic duo.

The Athletic’s Jim Bowden came out with his 22 bold predictions for the 2022 MLB season, which begins Thursday. Two of them include the New York Yankees.

Let’s start with the most obvious:

the Yankees announce that Judge Aaron accepted the terms of a 7-year extension worth $224 million and the Guardians announce that they have agreed to the terms of a new contract with third baseman José Ramírez for 7 years worth $196 million on the eve of Opening Day. Judge is eligible for free agency at the end of this season while Ramírez will be eligible after the 2023 season.

The Yankees and Judge want to reach a deal and have set a soft opening day deadline to complete contract talks.

Now for the doozy:

the Nationals increase their offer to the superstar right fielder Juan Soto from $350 million to $390 million and he rejects it, preferring to go to free agency in three years. The Nationals then traded him to the Yankees on Dec. 29 for a set of seven prospects that includes their top prospect, Anthony Volpe.

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That’s a lot to unpack.

Volpe, 20, is the Yankees’ top prospect and one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball. The shortstop is expected to reach the major leagues as early as 2023. But the Yankees also have highly rated shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza, giving New York the flexibility to move Volpe, the New Jersey native who was a first-round pick in 2019.

Soto, 23, is the real deal. He already has four major league seasons on his resume.

In 2018, he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting 22 home runs.

In 2019, Soto hit a career-high 34 homers and finished ninth in NL MVP voting, helping the Nationals win the World Series.

In the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, he won his first Silver Slugger Award and finished fifth in MVP voting.

Last year, Soto made his first All-Star team and finished second in MVP voting after hitting .313 with 29 home runs and 95 RBIs.

The lifetime .301 hitter is under the control of the team until 2024, according to Spotrac, and a monster contract is in his future.

But with Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton playing on $300 million deals, and Judge also facing a massive extension, would the Yankees be the club to pay for Soto? General Manager Brian Cashman has exercised fiscal restraint over the past two years. But for a generational talent like Soto, it’s possible Cashman (and Hal Steinbrenner) are ready to play ball.

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Mike Rosenstein can be reached at mrosenstein@njadvancemedia.com.

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