In doing so, they have achieved their main objective for now by strengthening their vision beyond the 2024 season while achieving much-needed flexibility in their salaries for this season, which is winter.
Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that the Padres traded Juan Soto. It doesn’t matter what package you receive from New York; it’s always something that creates some kind of burn.
“We traded an impact player, a perennial all-star, a Hall of Fame-caliber player,” Padres general manager AJ Preller said. “It’s exciting when you get these types of players. Now it’s exciting and frustrating at the same time. You’re talking about a future Hall of Famer. “We’re on both sides.”
The Padres acquired Soto in a mega-trade. And then they came out of it with another mega change. Believe me, I get it; this last scenario is not very fun.
Here are some things to consider for San Diego today.
1. It will hurt to lose Soto, especially since the club never achieved the goals they set when they acquired the Dominican. 2022 was a success, but San Diego failed in 2023, and the sale of Soto is an acknowledgment of the team’s inability to reach its goals.
2. However, trading Soto doesn’t mean the Padres won’t find success. In some ways, this same change will help ease the Dominican’s departure, ensuring that the Padres can keep their window open to compete for a longer period of time instead of losing Soto for free next year through free agency.
“The ability to add players under contractual control for a few years and from a long-term perspective is something that opens up a lot of opportunities for us,” said Preller.
Of course, this is not a “garage sale” similar to what the Padres did in the 1990s.
“We have competitive salaries for the next five years,” said the general manager. “I think we have a competitive roster. But it’s about finding the best ways to use those dollars on a player.
“At the end of the day, we decided to add five players who could be on our roster this year.”
The padres’ core remains intact. Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr., Joe Musgrove, and Yu Darvish are still there for the long term. Now they are adding to that group the depth they are looking for.
All this at a very high, though not prohibitive, cost.
The offseason is still young. The Padres could make moves intended to bolster a postseason-caliber roster. It’s surprising how Preller and new manager Mike Shildt have reiterated that their goal is to win the National League West Division in 2024, something the club hasn’t achieved in 18 years.
And Preller explained again.
“You have to be good to win the NL West,” Preller said. “We’re going to do what it takes to balance our roster and have a competitive team. That’s what you need.”
The 2023 Padres were a disappointment. They started the year with their eyes on the World Series and finished with an 82-80 record, watching the postseason from afar. There are many reasons that could explain what happened. The lack of organizational depth is one of the most important.
That, in addition to the club’s inability to win the games they should have won,. The Padres are 9-23 in games decided by one run. They started 0-12 in duels decided in extra innings. These results often change from time to time. Given the talent on the roster, I don’t think it’s too bold to think things could improve in 2024, even without Soto.
Although, of course, none of what happened was Soto. The Dominican Republic has had an amazing campaign in 2023, after a great playoff last year. But the Padres, if they can add a few key pieces over the winter, could raise their sights again in 2024. That seems to be the case, even if the Soto trade still hurts right now.