The San Diego Padres seem to be at a crossroads between reportedly lowering payroll for the 2024 campaign and figuring out a way to keep superstar outfielder Juan Soto, the 25-year-old phenom who has one year left of arbitration before becoming a free agent. The Padres spent a lot at the 2022 MLB trade deadline to land Soto in a deal with the Washington Nationals, but one MLB executive believes Soto's time with the franchise is coming to an end.
MLB rumors: San Diego Padres forced to trade Juan Soto?
In an article for ESPN.com (subscription required), Alden Gonzalez provides a wrap-up from the recent GM meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., with a deep dive into the conundrum facing the Padres when it comes to Soto. While the franchise greatly values what he does at the plate (including the stats he produced last season to win a Silver Slugger Award), A.J. Preller and the front office knows that a big payday is coming soon for Soto, with an emphasis on "big" based on not only his talent, but that he is also represented by Scott Boras.
With all of that swirling, one "rival GM" was quoted by Gonzalez as saying about the Padres and their likely need to trade Soto, "I don't think they have much of a choice, honestly."
There is no doubt that Preller and company will have to get creative with the numbers in order to not only keep Soto, but also fill the other needs the team has heading into the season, including at designated hitter and in the rotation. It's a tall order, and one that seemingly has plenty of people looking outside in at the Padres and not seeing how the puzzle pieces fit together.
While Preller and Boras both said the right things about Soto staying with the Padres in 2024, there are plenty of whispers doubting San Diego's ability to make that happen.