The annual MLB GM winter meetings always lead to a host of trade rumors involving some of the biggest names in baseball. This year’s event led to superagent Scott Boras squashing rumors by noting that he was under the impression that his client Juan Soto is “definitely” in the San Diego Padres’ plans next season.
Yet, other MLB industry experts weren’t so quick to buy what Boras was selling.
According to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez, several executives and agents are operating under the impression that Soto actually will be available via trade this offseason. One GM even went so far as to say, “I don’t think they have much of a choice, honestly.” ESPN’s Buster Olney agreed, saying “Absolutely, 100% he’s going to be traded before the season.”
Last season, the Padres set new franchise records with a team payroll of an estimated $255 million, which ranked as the third-highest in MLB. Yet, San Diego struggled, winning just 82 games and failing to make the postseason. Now, there’s a need to reduce costs, especially since the Padres will no longer benefit from a TV agreement paying roughly $50 million per season. That’s not even including the fact that the Padres also had to take out a massive loan just to cover expenses this past season.
Now, the goal for the Padres is to reportedly reduce the 2024 payroll from nearly $255 million down to around $200 million. Yet, with Soto estimated to make roughly $35 million in arbitration, clearing that amount from the books would go a long way toward helping the Padres accomplish their goals.
According to ESPN, many within the industry believe Soto will be on another team next season. This is in large part due to the desire to reduce payroll, while also needing to fill several roster needs, which could include multiple starting pitchers, adding bullpen depth, and more help to the lineup.
Meanwhile, Padres GM A.J. Preller revealed that the team and Soto will continue discussing an extension this offseason. Soto, has one year left on his contract before the three-time All-Star is eligible for free agency, which will surely be a factor both during extension negotiations or any potential trade discussions.