The San Diego Padres had arguably the most disappointing season in Major League Baseball this past season, going 82-80 and missing the playoffs. This team had a ton of hype heading into the season following an NLCS appearance and a roster that looked even better, but didn't click until it was too late.
As we head into the winter, there's a good chance the Padres roster will once again have a new look. We know guys like Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. will be here, but San Diego has plenty of free agents and players with options to decide on.
As we inch closer to the offseason, let's take a deeper dive into some roster questions A.J. Preller is going to have to answer.
1) What will the Padres do with Juan Soto?
Let's address the elephant in the room right off the bat. The San Diego Padres have themselves a real dilemma when it comes to Juan Soto and what the franchise will opt to do with him.
On one hand, the Padres are going to try and win in 2024. No matter how you slice it, trading Juan Soto makes that a whole lot tougher. He's one of the best hitters in all of baseball and the Padres would not be acquiring close to the value Soto provides for the 2024 season.
On the other hand, while trading Juan Soto makes the Padres worse in 2024, it helps them a ton in the future. Soto is entering the final year of team control before he hits free agency. The second he becomes a free agent, he can walk out the door in exchange for nothing more than a compensatory pick. Given the fact that the Padres already have a ton of money invested in long-term contracts and the fact that Soto is going to be seeking an absurd payday that only a handful of teams can realistically afford, the chances of Soto departing after the 2024 season are quite high.
A.J. Preller has a choice to make. He can keep Soto around and put his eggs in the 2024 basket. He can also trade Soto and get a decent haul back. It wouldn't be close to what they gave up to get him originally, but the Padres can absolutely get something quite good for one of the game's best players.
Soto is such a hard player to trade, but he's also such a hard player to risk losing for nothing. We'll see what Preller decides to do here.