Last summer, Dodgers fans clearly admired Juan Soto, who was rumored to be on the market (no matter how nonsensical that sounded) around 2022's All-Star Game.
Soto, standing and basking in the Dodger Stadium light, was bathed with chants meant to goad and influence him. Of course, he didn't really have a choice of his next destination. He wasn't a free agent. It only seemed logical that it'd be LA, considering no team's farm system was quite as stacked and built to absorb that level of blow.
Somehow, some way, Soto was available and the San Diego Padres, of all teams, made it work. Not only was Soto not headed to Hollywood, but he'd be part of the rejuvenation process for a franchise trying to reach the Dodgers' heights? Say it ain't so. Worst-case scenario. Surely, the next 2.5 years of his contract and resulting extension would be a nightm -- oh.
With two months to go in his second-to-last season in SD (probably?), the Padres appear to have mostly surrendered. This year has not gone the way Soto or anyone envisioned. The Pads have the run differential of a 62-53 team, but the record of a 55-60 club. Every time they nearly draw themselves back into the Wild Card race, they seem to wilt further below .500 and closer to the ground.
Conventional wisdom is that Soto will explore free agency again next winter. Remember how he and Scott Boras turned down a reported $440 million extension offer? Yeah, he's not relenting this time. And, when he does explore free agency, will he give the Padres a shot at the first offer? Or will he be trying to bolt a team that he accused of mysteriously giving up with the sweep on the line Wednesday night in Seattle?
Juan Soto's Padres have given up, I guess? Man. Dodgers fans must be playing the smallest violin.
"I don't get it. You know how it feels like we give up all the time? Is that on us, you think? Ah, well, we'll figure it out. Maybe. Probably not." Wow, was that General MacArthur? Inspiring!
According to FanSided's MLB insider Robert Murray, keeping Soto for 2024 and not thinking about the future is the most likely outcome. That puts trading Soto and extending him on near-equal footing entering the offseason. AJ Preller probably won't pull the trigger, but ... Soto probably won't listen to him on the other thing ... so ... ?
The Padres might not be thinking about Soto's next stop, but Soto sure seems to be. Maybe he'll find his way to a team that scratches and claws until the very last out someday. Or maybe that's a symptom he brings with him wherever he goes. Either way, we should find out in 2025.