Though the Juan Soto trade rumors have taken MLB by storm, it’s still hard for fans to see him dealt before the Aug. 2 deadline. Why? Because once-in-a-lifetime trade packages simply don’t materialize over the course of two weeks. Sorry to those Los Angeles Dodgers fans who might’ve been excited at the prospect of landing the generational star.
Right before the All-Star break, Soto rejected a monster contract extension from the Washington Nationals, who promptly, per reports, began listening to trade offers. The Dodgers were obviously among the teams associated to the star outfielder, and have since been linked to the talks via insiders.
Another issue with Soto hitting the market is that rival executives view the San Diego Padres as the favorites to land him due to their stacked farm system and general manager AJ Preller’s consistent aggression. Whether that’s the case before the deadline or in the offseason, how worried should LA truly be about that being a possibility?
The Dodgers are 5-2 in their first matchups against the Pads this season, but that’s been without Fernando Tatis Jr. on the field. Wil Myers has also been dealing with injuries for much of the year and Trent Grisham has been one of the worst performers in all of baseball.
Adding Soto to the mix to essentially take Myers’ spot would be the ultimate upgrade, and when Tatis Jr. is able to take the field again, San Diego’s lineup would be fearsome. But right now, they still have a lot of work to do.
Should the Dodgers be worried about the Padres trading for Juan Soto?
Right now, here are the Padres’ ranks for a few major offensive categories:
- Batting average – .241 (16th in MLB)
- On-Base Percentage – .316 (13th in MLB)
- Slugging Percentage – .375 (26th in MLB)
- OPS – .691 (22nd in MLB)
- Home Runs – 81 (25th in MLB)
- RBI – 408 (15th in MLB)
- Runs Scored – 423 (15th in MLB)
- Stolen Bases – 30 (27th in MLB)
Clearly, if anything’s been holding the Padres back, it’s been the offense. They have a top-10 pitching staff in the league (as they cross their fingers for MacKenzie Gore) and one of the best defenses.
In 2022, Soto is experiencing a dip in average and slugging percentage likely because he’s surrounded by awfulness in Washington. That would theoretically change in San Diego, but he wouldn’t help their struggles with stolen bases (37 for his career), nor would he improve their defense (he’s widely regarded as a below-average defender).
But such a deal further complicates things for the Padres. Unless San Diego’s ownership has shifted its tune in regard to the luxury tax threshold, it’s doubtful Preller will be going past the $230 million mark, and with Soto’s ~$8 million coming before the deadline, that would force the team to part with other talent or find trade partners willing to eat salary.
Unless there’s a concerted effort to have other lateral moves address the bullpen (17th-ranked batting average against and 28th in strikeouts) and rotation (is Blake Snell gone? how much longer will Sean Manaea be tolerated?), then the Padres will have a messy deadline ahead that could be filled with more confusion than direction.
The Dodgers have the second-best offense in MLB and a top-five pitching staff. The Padres adding Soto and welcoming back Tatis won’t propel them into LA territory. And with Friedman expected to make some pitching additions at the deadline, the team will be well-equipped to handle a possible Padres-Soto pairing.
The spark notes: Dodgers fans shouldn’t be all that concerned. Let San Diego gut its farm system and continue on a rogue path.