3 changes we'd already make to the San Diego Padres in 2023
Start watching Juan Soto more closely
This one may strike Padres fans as odd, but the truth is that Juan Soto hasn't been nearly the player on San Diego that he was as a Washington National.
Since arriving in Southern California, Soto's OPS stands at .770, as compared to the .966 OPS he posted in DC. Additonally, Soto's OPS+ as a Padre is 125, down from the 160 he had as a National.
Soto has now had quite a while (dating back to August of last season) to adjust to his new surroundings and find his footing amongst this loaded group, and so far, it's at least mildly concerning that he hasn't found that old stroke to this point.
Ultimately, few players on the planet possess the talent and tools that the 24-year-old outfielder does, so he has earned the benefit of the doubt in that regard. But that leash won't last forever.
For what's it worth, the Padres are internally concerned about Soto as well, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The team believes he's "badly pressing" despite the star proclaiming his increased comfortability in San Diego.
And don't be surprised if the rest of this season dictates how San Diego moves forward with Soto, says Nightengale.
"The Padres plan to be in heavy pursuit for free agent Shohei Ohtani, and if they land him, Soto could be the one traded, realizing they likely wouldn’t be able to meet his contract demands after already rejecting $440 million from the Nationals."- Bob Nightengale, USA Today
Soto's performance this season will be worth watching, especially in light of his early struggles.