After contract extension discussions between the Washington Nationals and outfielder Juan Soto hit a major snag, MLB teams are rushing to determine whether the superstar slugger would be a good fit for their ballclub. It’s not purely about talent, if it were, all other 29 teams would be calling the Nationals.
But with Soto rejecting a 15-year contract extension reportedly worth up to $440 million, other organizations will need to ensure they have enough set aside to lock Soto down long-term. Aside from the enormous salary Soto’s in line to earn with a new contract, any team acquiring him should be prepared to sell the moon.
San Diego Padres an early favorite to acquire Juan Soto
One ballclub who just might be prepared to meet the Nationals’ expected asking price for Juan Soto is the San Diego Padres. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Padres are eyeing a situation where they can pair Soto with Fernando Tatis Jr., forming a duo as dynamic as any other in baseball.
General manager A.J. Preller has shown he’s not afraid to swing a blockbuster trade or even spend big bucks in free agency, and trading for Soto would be his biggest move yet.
Soto, 23, is already a two-time All-Star, having won the Silver Slugger twice, and has even performed on the biggest stage, helping the Nats win a World Series in 2019. A player who gets on base at a high rate in his career (.427), while launching home runs into the night sky, Soto would instantly be the heart of the order in any organization.
Of course, a trade for Soto won’t be easy to pull off. He’s one of the best, brightest players in all of baseball and amazingly still has room to grow. The Padres also already have the fifth-highest payroll in the MLB, with Tatis and his 14-year, $340 million contract leading the way.
Yet, the Padres are in second place of the NL West, 9.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division lead. The St. Louis Cardinals are hot on their trail, tailing the Padres by just 2.5 games for the final NL Wild Card spot.
There’s also so real rush for the Nationals to trade Soto, as he’s still under team control until 2024, so any team hoping to land him now will have to pay through the roof.
Meanwhile, the Padres have several young pieces other teams covet, such as shortstop C.J. Abrams, pitcher Mackenzie Gore, and many others. But none of those are producing at levels even close to Juan Soto just yet, which is why the Padres are one of the teams expected to be major players for the young Dominican whenever he’s traded.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.