There is no doubt the San Diego Padres could pay the asking price for Juan Soto of the Nationals. But will the team be able to afford the young superstar, and is it worth it for the Padres to make the trade?
The 2022 San Diego Padres need offense.
Recent rumors swirling indicate that the Padres and Nationals could come to an agreement on a blockbuster deal. Juan Soto may be traded after he rejected a deal by the Nationals of $440 million and 15 years. Washington first balked at the idea of trading their superstar but has changed gears in recent days.
It is not clear if the Nationals really intend to deal Soto before August, but they are surely listening to offers. Washington will get top dollar for their young outfielder as he has 2 1/2 years of service time under his current contract. The Nationals are looking to maximize the return for Soto.
The Padres are currently struggling to score runs, and the addition of Juan Soto could be huge for the Padres in 2022. A.J. Preller is never shy to make a trade, so there is some validity to these Soto to the Padres rumors that are circulating.
Could you imagine a lineup with Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, and Manny Machado in the middle of it? The Friars would immediately have the best trio in the game of baseball in regards to offense, and with Tatis and Soto in their early 20s, that could be a common theme in San Diego for the next decade.
But, hold up.
There is a major issue that does not include the price tag for Soto.
The Padres could easily pay the price to the Nationals, but the financial parts of this deal could get very tricky for San Diego when it is all said and done. Some reports indicate the Padres would be willing to explore a long-term deal with the outfielder. That will cost the team north of $450 million and 15 years to get done. With Machado and Tatis both due to make a large sum of money for the next six to ten-plus years, signing Soto to that kind of deal could be crippling in the long run when it comes to roster construction.
With Tatis, Soto (if extended), and Machado on the roster, the Padres would be invested at around $100 million per season for three players. Petco Park is the hip place to be, and there is no doubt the Padres will remain among the top teams in terms of payroll. The old days of the frugal Friars are long gone. Peter Seidler and his team of investors are geared for a dynasty-type run, but the management group of the Padres will need to be creative to fill out the rest of their roster with a limit on spending.
Can it be done?
A long-term deal with Soto seems far-fetched but never say never. The Padres did sign Manny Machado to the highest contract in North American sports history, only to eclipse it a few years later in terms of the total money owed to a player (Tatis). The team is selling out home games, and merchandise is flying off the shelves. The Padres have money, and they are and will invest it back into the franchise. Their concept of spending money to make money is not new, but it took a lot to turn around this once dismal franchise.
Juan Soto is making $17 million this 2022 season with two-plus years under his current contract. That means he will make somewhere around $35-45 million over the last two years of his deal and roughly $8 million for the rest of the 2022 season. That alone would be a heavy burden for the Padres as they have three pitchers who are about to head into free agency. Joe Musgrove, Mike Clevinger, and Sean Manaea are all in the last year of their contract and will hit the open market this winter. Musgrove is the #1 priority as the Padres would love to retain their native San Diegan pitcher. Manaea and Clevinger will not be as expensive as Musgrove, but they do eat up innings in the middle of the rotation and are veteran pitchers.
The Padres wish to remain under the luxury tax and are currently skirting the fence on going over. If the team were able to move some salaries this winter, then anything is possible. Eric Hosmer is due $39 million for the 2023 season through 2025 season ($13 million per season). His contract looks the most burdensome for the Padres, as Wil Myers will be a free agent following the 2022 season. Drew Pomeranz is making $10 million this season and another $10 million for the 2023 season. Health will dictate if his contract is worth the price tag. The Padres will eventually need to trim payroll and gain financial flexibility.
Adding Juna Soto would boost the offense, but the Padres would need to make some moves to distribute costly veterans elsewhere. A.J. Preller and his staff think outside the box, but the financials of adding Juan Soto could get very complicated. A long-term deal seems unfathomable, but this current era of Padres baseball is like nothing we have ever seen. Even 2 1/2 years of Juan Soto is extremely valuable. But the Padres will need to move some salary to get that done. These next few weeks will be full of rumors and excitement for Padres fans. Expect the unexpected.