Can the Padres afford to extend Juan Soto?

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Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto is due for free agency after the 2024 season. Can the San Diego Padres extend the outfielder?

These are not your father’s Padres.

In 1994, the San Diego Padres owned the lowest payroll in all of baseball at roughly $20.3 million. The Tigers led the league in payroll with a total of $56.7 million committed to its players. Fast forward 29 years, and the Padres are committing $245.7 million to its payroll, which is the third-highest in all of baseball.

Peter Seidler and his ownership group have blown away the fan base with generosity and remarkable business sense. The Padres transformed Petco Park into a hip place in the city. This year, the team has already shattered its attendance record in terms of sell-outs. Fans are coming in droves to watch the Padres, and the team is capitalizing on the hype around the team.

In the last few seasons, the Padres have signed Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Xander Bogaerts to $280-340 million deals. With the extensions of Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, the team has committed one billion dollars to these five men for the next ten years. That is an incredible devotion to winning.

This is an excellent core group of players and men you can easily build around. However, there is one more player who is not signed long-term, and some would argue he has the best overall ability of all the men on the roster, including Tatis. Juan Soto is a phenom. The 24-year-old owns a .947 career OPS in six years in the majors. To put that into perspective, Tony Gwynn, who most consider one of the best hitters of all time, recorded a .847 OPS in his career.

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The Padres paid a hefty price tag for the services of Juan Soto last August. MacKenzie Gore and CJ Abrams are already making their mark at the major league level. James Wood and Robert Hassell are impressive young outfielders, and Jarlin Susana still throws triple-digit heaters in the minors. That is an excellent prospect haul, and the Nationals were swept off their feet for their star outfielder.

In making this trade, the Padres solidified the team for the present; The goal is to win now.

Juan Soto is a special talent. To retain his services, most pundits believe the price will be in the $400-450 million range.

Given Soto’s age, investing 10-13 years on a player who is 24 doesn’t seem as risky as giving an infielder an 11-year contract when they are 30 years old. The Padres did just that in signing Bogaerts, and only time will tell how that all plays out for San Diego.

With so much money committed already, do the Padres have the ability to re-sign Juan Soto?

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The short answer is yes. They most certainly do.

If you have taken a trip to Petco Park, you understand how this club is making its real money. Sure, TV deals and advertising brings in a pretty penny for the Padres, but each and every night, Petco Park is jammed with fans, and they are all spending lots of money at the old ballyard. Enjoying an evening at Petco Park is like going to Disneyland. You go there prepared to pay your hard-earned money, and you do it willingly. Money and spending it on payroll should not be an issue. The Padres discovered a winning formula.

In order to add Juan Soto to the list of players committed to the team, the Padres will need inexpensive talent for the next ten years to couple with this core group of players. Not an insurmountable task, but the team will need to be diligent in adding players and drafting. They need young, controlled players, and they will need them to continually arrive in San Diego one way or another.

Despite the failure of the 2023 team, retaining Juan Soto should be the San Diego Padres’ number one priority.

He is a generational talent, and the Friars must do whatever is necessary to ink him long-term.

Keep him in San Diego.

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