Juan Soto is the Newest San Diego Padre
The Juan Soto sweepstakes are over! The superstar outfielder is on the move to San Diego along with Josh Bell as the Padres finalize a deal with the Nationals, per a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan. After weeks of speculation and rumors, both player and team are now moving on. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi has the details:
AJ Preller has finally made a big swing to bring yet another star to San Diego. Soto will now form one of the best Big 3s in Baseball alongside Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. However, there is more. While Morosi had most of the pieces of the record-breaking return for Washington, there are more pieced to add. Lefty MacKenzie Gore and another major league player are headed to the Nationals, according to Passan. It was going to take a whale of a deal to move a player like Soto at age 23, and that’s exactly what San Diego gave up. However, it seems they were able to keep ahold of MLB Top 100 prospect Luis Campusano. However, it was the No. 21 prospect Robert Hassell III, No. 88 James Wood, and more that were the headliners.
2022 and Beyond?
After acquiring Soto, AJ Preller’s next order of business would be locking him up to a long-term extension. With two more years of team control after 2022, Soto is due for a historic payday. From a purely financial perspective, that doesn’t look like an issue. Padres owner and chairman Peter Seidler will not shy away from using his wallet to help this team. He has forked over considerable sums in deals for Machado, Tatis, and most recently Joe Musgrove. They already have a number to work with after Soto rejected Washington’s 15-year, $440 million proposal. However, all we can do now is wait and see A) how Soto and the Padres do for the rest of the season, and B) see how much willingness there is from Soto to stay in San Diego for the long term.
Some would have called the Yankees the trade deadline winners before today. However, Preller and the Padres appear to be the big winners after back-to-back blockbusters. Acquiring Josh Hader was already a signal of intent, but Juan Soto is a step or two above that. It’s no secret that the Dodgers are nothing short of a superteam, but the Padres are not far behind. While Soto is the big name that grabs headlines, don’t sleep on the rest of the deal. Josh Bell is still a great player and is an upgrade at first base. Furthermore, they even reportedly got out of Eric Hosmer’s deal (he must be the other Major-League player Passan alluded to). It’s hard to grade trades only minutes after being done, but this is one that Padres fans could love for the next decade-plus.
We need to talk about Juan Soto. The guy is only 23 but everyone in baseball can tell you he’s destined for the Hall of Fame. He hit 34 homers and 110 RBIs at 19 years old and then, for his 20th birthday present, got to play and win the World Series in 2019. Nationals fans may have thought the sky was falling when Bryce Harper left for Philadelphia following the 2018 season. However, Juan Soto came in and was arguably better. You don’t see many Juan Sotos in your lifetime. This is a guy who once hit over .350 (!!!) in a season. Preller already emptied out the farm of prospects during the trade deadline. Now it’s time to splash some cash too.
He turns 24 in October and already has two Silver Sluggers and a batting title to his name. Since his career started, Soto’s 162-game average is absolutely crazy for someone so young. On average, he’s good for 34 Home Runs, 103 RBIs, and eleven stolen bases, all while batting at a .291 clip and getting on base nearly 43% of the time. Long story short, you can’t come up with many better alternatives from a Padres’ point of view. They’ve been trying to shake themselves of the “little brother” complex with the Dodgers. Soto’s arrival in San Diego gives them a good shot of making it happen.
So When’s The Debut?
It’s been a down year for Soto’s incredibly high standards. However, he was an All-Star, has knocked in 21 home runs to date, and even won this year’s Home Run Derby. Part of that could have been from a lack of motivation for playing in Washington. Whatever the case, he won’t have to worry about it. The Padres are built to win NOW. And the additions of Soto, Bell, and Hader help that tremendously. The window in San Diego has been busted wide open. Hammering out a long-term extension could make the Padres one of the best teams in the 2020s.
The NL West was already a bloodbath. We saw an NLDS for the ages last year with the Dodgers and the Giants. While the Rockies and Diamondbacks are nothing to write home about, just wait a few years. They could turn into the next Baltimore Orioles. Meanwhile, it will be a clash of the titans for the next few years when the Dodgers and Padres match up. As if it wasn’t already. I’m on my hands and knees hoping we see these teams face off this October!
UPDATE as of 12:50 p.m. EST on Aug. 2:
Padres’ infielder Eric Hosmer has reportedly vetoed being traded to Washington. While it’s a hurdle the teams can probably work through, we will now see how that impacts the deal.
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