With Juan Soto and Josh Haider, Padres Go All-In for World Series

The franchise began in 1969, just another expansion team in strange uniforms that lost 110 games. Five decades passed, with some Hall of Famers but no championships. Then, after years of aggressive spending and trading by the front office, Juan Soto led the team all the way.

That scenario played out for the Washington Nationals in 2019, when they eventually won the World Series. The San Diego Padres are hoping for a sequel of their own.

The Padres—the expansion cousin of the Montreal Expos, which eventually moved to Washington—have never been particularly close to a title. Their last scheduled World Series game was against the Yankees in the Bronx on October 25, 1998, Game 7. They were swept away, and the game was never played. Soto was born on that day in the Dominican Republic.

Now Soto is a padre, on the next stage of a career with an almost unparalleled start. With his age-23 season still in progress, here are some of the 10 most similar players in history at age 22, according to Soto, Baseball Reference: Hank Aaron, Miguel Cabrera, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Mike Trout.

So that’s good. That’s why he can confidently turn down a $440 million contract offer from the Nationals last month. That’s why he commanded an exorbitant package of Padres players in a deal that hit the game on Tuesday’s trading deadline.

Washington sent Soto and Josh Bell – a switch-hitting force at first base – to San Diego for first baseman Luke Voight and five young players: shortstop CJ Abrams, pitcher Mackenzie Gore, outfielder Robert Hassell III, pitcher Jerlyn Susanna and outfielder James Wood. All five were highly regarded amateurs who have so far delivered on their promise. No one has played a full season in the Majors yet.

The move gives the Nationals almost nothing out of their championship team, largely discouraging poor investment and reminders of false potential. Stephen Strasberg Makes $35 Million But Can’t Avoid Injury. Patrick Corbin, who earned $23.3 million, has been 15-38 years old since the World Series. Outfielder Victor Robles, once a top-five prospect in the game, is a bust.

The team was unwilling to win in front of Soto’s free agency after the 2024 season. By trading Soto now – with three potential postseason runs for the acquiring team – the Nationals received extraordinary value in return. Building around Soto may have been the better option, but it was a risky bet with the sales team and agent Scott Boras’ history of pulling out top dollar in free agency.

Citizens have eagerly pursued BORAS’s best customers. General Manager Mike Rizzo, with support from the Lerner family ownership, created five playoff teams in the eight seasons through 2019, largely consisting of Team Bourse members such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Soto, Strasbourg and Jason Worth. I through.

But when you play at a high-stakes table, you can lose just like you won. And now the nationals are losing more than any other team.

The Padres also appear to be in for a big drop – eventually. They cannot maintain their spending levels forever, both in dollars and potential capital. But his general manager, AJ Preler, spent years preparing for life as a contender, and now he’s living the fantasy.

Some of his peers collect high-impact prospects like Preller, and some are more than willing to part with him. Within the past few seasons, Preller has traded in his primes for a full rotation of established starters: Mike Clevinger, Yu Darvish, Sean Manea, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell.

In 2019, he persuaded third baseman Manny Machado for ownership to make him the first $300 million player in baseball history, then paid even more money to shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. before last season: $340 million for 14 years. . Tatis was only 17 years old when Preller stole him from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for James Shields in 2016.

The deal for Soto and Bell also wasn’t the only headliners for the Padres on the deadline: Josh Hader, a four-time All-Star close, arrived in a trade with Milwaukee on Monday, and the versatile Brandon Drury (with .274 20) Home Run) joined a deal with Cincinnati on Tuesday.

The team also sent first baseman Eric Hosmer – who was initially part of the Soto trade before invoking his limited no-trade clause – to Boston for a prospect.

Other contenders boldly met the deadline. Houston acquired Trey Mancini and Christian Vazquez for their lineup and Will Smith for their bullpen, while Atlanta and Philadelphia each added a starter, a reliever and an outfielder: Noah Syndergaard, David Robertson and Brandon Marsh for the Phillies. , and Jake Odorizzi, Raicel Iglesias and Robbie Grossman for the Braves. The Yankees, Mets, Toronto, St. Louis, Seattle, Minnesota and Milwaukee also added several players.

But none acted with as much desperation as the Padres, who have waited many years for this moment. They endured nine consecutive losing seasons before making the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the only season since 1998 with a win in the playoff round.

Last year began with promise but ended with a bang: 18 games totaling .500 on August 10, the Padres had four games by the end of the season. They fired manager Jayce Tingler and signed Bob Melvin – a three-time Manager of the Year winner – away from Oakland.

Tatis hasn’t played this season after breaking a wrist in an off-season motorcycle accident, but he should start a rehabilitation job soon. Melvin has already put the Padres in playoff position at 58-46 from Monday – and he still hasn’t written Bale, Soto or Tatis into the lineup. That’s too much of a thump to fuel a league-average offense, and the Padres already have a top-10 pitching staff.

Plenty of other teams can dream of a post-season deep run – the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, Mets and Braves all reached a .600 win percentage or better on Tuesday’s trading deadline. They are the dominant elite, and the Padres aspires to join them.

Those five franchises, of course, have something else that the Padres lack: a World Series championship. Soto left the Nationals before his 24th birthday, and that’s a bit sad. But now he has a chance to put the other team on his first parade, and that chase will be tempting.

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