Juan Soto (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Soto, 25, is estimated to receive a salary of $30 million or more in his final year of arbitration in 2024. The Padres, following the collapse of their broadcast deal with Bally Sports San Diego and resulting revenue losses, are looking to cut payroll around 20% to $200 million. With eight players—Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis Jr., Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim and Robert Suarez—set to make more than $115 million alone and a roster full of holes, trading Soto is the most efficient way for the Padres to meet their dual needs of cutting payroll and filling the out the roster.
That said, the Padres won’t trade Soto without getting considerable talent back. Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has long been enamored with Soto, and the Padres paid a historically high price to acquire him. The team intends to contend in 2024 and won’t trade him unless it makes sense from a baseball perspective, not just a salary perspective.
The Padres have three clear needs: starting pitching, first base and center field. Any Soto trade that doesn’t fill one or more of those needs would not be practical for the organization, and likely would not be accepted by the team. Any potential trade partner would have to match the Padres needs and be willing to pay a high price, even with Soto only under team control for one more year. If they don’t, the Padres are content to simply keep him.
Given the level of talent needed to acquire Soto and the payroll space required to absorb his salary, only a few teams actually have what’s needed to pull off a deal.
Here are five teams who realistically have the pieces to trade for Soto, as well as the means to pay him.
Realistically, this won’t happen. The Dodgers are saving their money for a run at Shohei Ohtani, and the Padres aren’t going to trade one of their best hitters to a hated rival they’re trying to chase down in the National League West. From a pure talent perspective, however, the Dodgers have the most to offer the Padres and can blow away any other team’s trade package. Bobby Miller isn’t going anywhere, but Emmet Sheehan, Gavin Stone, Nick Frasso and Landon Knack lead a deep group of major…