Yankees’ Juan Soto tosses his bat and looks to the...

Yankees’ Juan Soto tosses his bat and looks to the dugout on his two-run home run against the Houston Astros during the first inning of an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Everyone knows that Juan Soto’s asking price is going to be astronomically high. That was true when the Yankees traded for the soon-to-be free agent last December, and it somehow became truer as he continues to make his mark on the Bronx.

Fear of the bright lights? Not here. Despite carrying a mini-slump — 3-for-27 with six strikeouts in his last seven games — into Friday’s matchup at Yankee Stadium against the White Sox, Soto was slashing .302/.403/.517 with nine homers and 34 RBIs.

Fitting in with the Yankees’ resident superstars? Not a problem, according to manager Aaron Boone.

In fact, a day after Hal Steinbrenner went on Jack Curry’s YES Network podcast and said he hoped to make Soto “a Yankee for life,” even more reasons emerged as to why the Yankees should pursue in-season negotiations.

“Since very early on in spring training, I feel like he's fit in really well with the guys,” Boone said, adding that he “certainly” hopes Soto will be a Yankee for life. “He's made a huge difference with our team and our lineup. Obviously, his performance between the lines [has been great], but the way he goes about things, it's been fun to witness for me and fun to get to know him in that way and to see how serious he is about the game.”

Boone added that he didn’t think negotiations would be a distraction for the 25-year-old superstar, and Soto himself said Thursday that his “door is always open” if the Yankees wanted to talk. Granted, that door is guarded by agent Scott Boras, who will likely not take anything less than top dollar — especially since Mets billionaire owner Steve Cohen is also said to have an interest in acquiring Soto’s talents.

“Hal is going to do all he can to try to put the best team possible [out there] and how that manifests itself with [those] conversations is certainly not my department,” Boone said. “But I don't worry about that with Juan. Juan is fixated on winning and playing at a really high level. If and when those conversations happen, I don't expect that to be a distraction.”

And so far, that characterization has been in line with what we’ve seen of Soto: He’s highly competitive, extremely driven, but “he does such a good job of striking a balance,” Boone said. "[There’s] a carefree way about him and an easy way about him to where he's having a lot of fun playing the game.”

Soto also has taken an active mentorship role among young players, Anthony Volpe said earlier this year; it’s a tool that isn’t going to show up in a box score, but it’s likely one that Steinbrenner and company will value.

“I think the coolest part is what he does in here, in the clubhouse with the rest of the guys and with the young guys,” Volpe said. “He just brings the energy and we’re obviously all looking to him to see how he leads by example. I think the way he takes guys under his wing and is willing to help everyone else.”

Sometimes, Boone said, it’s easy to “forget that Juan is just 25 years old…"

“While he plays the game in a lot of ways like a kid [that’s having] fun, there's an old soul to him too, that I think understands the game. He loves it. That's what's been cool about him," Boone added. "It's like, man, you see how passionate he is about this game. And that has come across, and he shares that with his teammates.

"So, the interaction, that connection that group has, those guys have with one another, playing for one another, and then when you shrink it down to the hitters and the position player group, there's a camaraderie and a sharing of information that has been palpable and fun to witness.”

Notes and quotes: DJ LeMahieu (fractured right foot) began his rehab assignment with Double-A Somerset on Friday. Boone doesn’t anticipate that LeMahieu will be able to rejoin the team when they travel to San Diego next Friday, but he could be an option later on in their nine-game West Coast trip…Tommy Kahnle (shoulder) will pitch in a rehab appearance on Sunday and could be activated next week.

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