Padres plotting future international move after trade with Astros?

Are the Padres eyeing someone in particular on the international market?
2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training
2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

AJ Preller has made a trade. No, he didn't bring in an outfielder, nor did he swing a deal for a starting pitcher. Nope, this was a trade of the minor variety, but it could have some major implications.

Preller is relatively well respected among his peers and oftentimes thinking two moves ahead, so it wouldn't necessarily be shocking to infer that the San Diego Padres' recent trade with the Houston Astros is part of something bigger.

San Diego shipped outfield prospect Oliver Carillo to Houston in exchange for international bonus pool money. Don't take that to mean cash considerations, because it's not. This is entirely different, and allows the Padres to spend more money in the international market next offseason. Perhaps Preller has his eye on a certain someone who could be available next year.

Did the Padres-Astros trade set up San Diego to sign Roki Sasaki?

Roki Sasaki is eyeing a jump to Major League Baseball. The recent success of Japanese players like Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto has many baseball executives salivating at the possibiity of bringing Sasaki state-side.

Sasaki struck out 19 batters en route to perfect game while playing in Nippon Professional Baseball in 2022. At 22 years old, Sasaki has a bright future ahead of him, but some of the rules surrounding the posting system for Japanese players and international free agency are gumming up the works.

But Preller may have found a loophole. Under MLB's current rules, Sasaki is ineligible to be posted. Players must be at least 25 years old and have played six years in NPB in order to be eligible. But, clubs can offer what's available in their international bonus pool as a means to secure a player in Sasaki's position.

Such a move isn't financially prudent for Sasaki or the team he plays for in Japan, the Chiba Lotte Marines. Sasaki will miss out on the opportunity to land a massive payday somewhere in the neighborhood of what Yamamoto signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers this winter. And the Marines will miss out on the mega-dollar posting fee that would be headed their way if Sasaki was signed using the international bonus pool money instead of being posted.

But if Sasaki is set on making the leap to the big leagues, perhaps he'd be willing to forgo the idea of waiting until 2026 before being posted by the Marines. If that's the case, Preller may be trying to line his proverbial pockets with as much money as possible to lure Sasaki away from NPB next winter.