The Padres have remade their reputation in recent years, changing from a small market team to one of the heavy hitters that is seemingly in on every notable free agent and trade candidate. That included nabbing Juan Soto last year, arguably the highest profile deadline deal in recent baseball history. Players with that much talent, youth and years of control don’t usually become available, which made it a headline-grabbing frenzy when it actually did happen.
Soto recently spoke with Stephanie Apstein of Sports Illustrated and was quite candid about how he actually didn’t enjoy the process as much as he expected. The firestorm kicked off when it was reported in mid-July that Soto had rejected a $440MM extension offer from the Nationals, which is what led to him being available in trades. It seems the outfielder wasn’t happy that those extension talks got leaked. “I wanted to do it with the Nationals, but they just made it public,” he says. “I didn’t like that at all. I hated it. I told them we weren’t speaking anymore, because they just threw everything out there.”
Although a trade seemed inevitable at that time and Soto prepared himself for it, he admitted that it hurt him more than he expected when it finally became real. Nelson Cruz, then his teammate in Washington and now again in San Diego, had to console a tearful Soto and remind him he was going to a better situation. He says that his anxiety finally abated when he returned to Washington and got a standing ovation in Nationals Park. “I really felt relieved,” he says. “I could leave that in the past and focus on Cali.” The Friars ultimately qualified for the postseason, their first playoff appearance in a full season since 2006. They knocked off the Mets and the Dodgers before falling to the Phillies in the NLCS.
Another part of the Padres’ aggressiveness has been extending their incumbent players, with Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jake Cronenworth and Joe Musgrove all getting notable deals recently. It’s fair to assume they’d like to do the same with Soto, though we might not hear much about it, given his preferences. “If [the Padres can keep negotiations private], I can do it any time. I have no problem with it,” he says.
The news of him leaving nearly half a billion dollars on the table also caused a lot of stress in his inner circle, with Soto saying it put “all the fans, all the Dominicans, even my family against me.” It seemingly crept into the locker room as well. “A lot of teammates were like, ‘We respect your thinking, but that’s a lot of money,’” he says. “I’m like, ‘Guys, I’m trying to do what’s best for me and what’s best for my family.’ And you gotta go out there and perform. And you try to perform for guys that doubt you. And that’s one of the things I hated.”
The concern from those family members and teammates is presumably that Soto is taking a risk by leaving that kind of money on the table. There’s always a risk in any athlete turning down significant money, as an unexpected injury could then diminish their earning power. But Soto still has plenty of things working in his favor to get a huge payday. Since he rocketed to the majors at such a young age, he’s still only 24, younger than many top prospects who have yet to even debut. He’s slated for free agency after 2024, when he will have just turned 26 years old. This past offseason saw superstar players like Aaron Judge and Trea Turner get to $300MM and beyond, even though they were going into their age-31 and age-30 seasons, respectively. Soto is already getting $23MM this year and will get another raise via arbitration for 2024 before hitting the open market at an exceptionally young age. It’s seems well within the realm of possibility that he ends up getting more than what he walked away from.
Some Padre fans have expressed concern that Soto isn’t living up to the hype so far, as his production was a bit diminished after the trade and he’s off to a slow start here in 2023. However, the underlying numbers suggest he’s due for some positive regression. He still walked more than he struck out after coming to San Diego and the same is true again here this year. His Statcast page is still bright red, meaning there’s no reason to suspect his .185 batting average on balls in play so far this year will stay more than 100 points below his career BABIP of .306. Even with that terrible luck so far, his .175/.366/.365 batting line amounts to an above-average 106 wRC+. Once the baseball gods start smiling on him again, he should move closer to his career batting line of .283/.422/.521 and 152 wRC+.
Despite all the attention and the doubters, Soto maintains he’s in a good place. “I feel great right now,” he tells Apstein. “Forget about all this stuff. Now I’m focused on the San Diego Padres.” The club is out to a slow start, currently at 8-11, but once Soto’s fortunes change for the better, that should apply to the club as well.
Turning to other parts of the roster, the club will also be getting a boost to its rotation soon as Joe Musgrove is set to make his season debut on Saturday, per Dennis Lin of The Athletic. The righty suffered a fractured toe in a freak weight room accident back in February and has been working his way back to health since. He’s coming off arguably his best season yet, as he posted a 2.93 ERA over 30 starts last year, as well as a 2.89 ERA in three postseason starts. The club has been employing a six-man rotation recently and will have to decide who gets bumped to make room for Musgrove. Yu Darvish and Blake Snell are locks to stick, with one of Michael Wacha, Ryan Weathers, Seth Lugo or Nick Martinez in line for a move to the bullpen or the farm. Weathers is the only one of that group that can be optioned to the minors, though he also has a 2.81 ERA in the early going while Martinez and Wacha are at 5.60 and 6.06, respectively.
The bullpen could also be in line for a reinforcement in the near future, as lefty Drew Pomeranz started a rehab assignment last night. He tossed one inning for the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm, getting a flyout, a groundout and a strikeout. Signed to a four-year, $34MM deal going into 2020, he posted a 1.45 ERA in the first year of the deal and a 1.75 in the second, striking out more than a third of batters faced in that time. Unfortunately, he required flexor tendon surgery in August of 2021 and hasn’t been on a big league mound since. Starting a rehab assignment now doesn’t necessarily mean a return is imminent, as he started a similar rehab stint in August of last year but renewed soreness shut him down. A full offseason didn’t even get him to 100%, as he dealt with inflammation during Spring Training and is only now properly ramping up. It’s hard to know what to expect from him at this point, but getting anywhere close to his excellent results from a few years ago would be most welcome.
And turning quickly to ownership, the club’s recent change in organizational attitude coincided with Peter Seidler purchasing a majority stake in the club in late 2020. It seems he plans on sticking around for a long time while continuing to run out a competitive roster. “There will never be another fire sale in San Diego, and I expect my family to own the franchise for another 50, 75 years,” he said at an event yesterday, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic. “Hopefully go for more, I’ll talk from the grave.”
Fernando Ringworm Jr.
Y’all thought we wouldn’t notice you bumping a story from 7 years ago then deleting it a minute later haha.
Bart Harley Jarvis
I believe the correct spelling is ‘Yous’.
That’s one for us northerners!
Stick a fork in him. I just heard his exit velocity has dropped by 10% or so. He’s probably got an injury he’s not disclosing.
I blame all of this on Tatis ringworm.
WSH seemingly got out while the getting was good here.
He wanted to stay in Washington as much as Betts wanted to stay in Boston. They wanted to go to “Cali”. It’s hard to feel bad for either of them, but while Betts hasn’t missed a beat, Soto struggled in the NLCS and early this season. He got his wish to get away from a rebuilding team and leaving an ungodly amount of money on the table, but he hasn’t yet played to $440m caliber. It’s possible he won’t even get that much from the Padres, if they choose to keep him, that is.
When offered so much money, when declining it, say anything but “I’m doing what’s best for my family” unless you prefer to live elsewhere in the summer.
Mookie did not want to stay in Boston
That’s what I said, but it bears repeating.
Not sure how the author can say anything positive about that batting line. .175/.366/.365 is awful. $23m for a few walks above replacement level is not what the fans expected when Preller gave up so much to get him. I know I am stating the obvious but this seems to happen often when a player turns down a good extension looking for something better. Rizzo’s offer from the Cubs comes to mind. Soto is such an exciting player but he is moving into that category of entitled jerk in my opinion. Making more money than anyone coming out of college with the best of degrees and the reason for it is the fans. Yet, he whines about the fans finding out about his deal. I bet if the Nats had offered him an insulting low-ball extension, smoke would be coming out of his fingers from tweeting so fast about how bad it was. Another overpaid underperforming crybaby that thinks he’s special and more important than any fan because he can hit a baseball. Chris Stewart the former career backup catcher was the worst I have seen. Watched him make a 7 year old kid celebrating his birthday at the park cry because he doesn’t sign autographs at games. Said it to the kid in the nastiest way. Had it been my kid I would have ripped him a new one. You see the old footage of guys like Ted Williams, Musial, Mays, Gehrig and the Babe signing while surrounded by kids. Players today seem to forget where their millions come from and how lucky they are to get them. Still shocked to see that horrible stat line is above replacement level. I hope the bases are loaded in the bottom of the 9th when Soto is at bat. Walking in a run is the only chance the Pads will have at scoring.
That long HR he hit today off of Morton sure was sweet though
Vince Ferragamo's Dog
Yup got his avg all the way up to .194 now, smoking !
Good luck getting another $440m offer. Soto is not a good defender and his bat isn’t elite despite having elite on base skills. Not worth it.
I feel so bad for him – two All-Star selections, a World Series ring, and $50 million in earnings by the time he turns 25 this October.
But he needs to feel appreciated. The trade from Washington’s view was amazing.
He may not but 330-375 over 10 is well within the realm of possibility. So if he gets 350 say he needs to make 90 from 36-40
The $440M from the Nationals included 2023-2024 and maybe even 2022. To break even he’ll need something in the neighborhood of $360-390M as a free agent.
SD would be foolish to even try to extend him at this point because even at his current level of performance he’s not gonna accept less than $500M guaranteed. Padres would be wise to let him ride to FA and based on what they see through 2024 maybe try to keep him. He’s not gonna be overpaid just because everyone around him is. But we’re talking about SD here, so anything goes. Cody Bellinger remains a cautionary tale, and despite the Dodgers’ issues this year, one of them isn’t being saddled with a monster Bellinger contract.
Stop it your going to hurt his God complex and go crying to Cruz again.
I have to think even Cruz has his limits. I mean, how much sympathy can you expect from a guy who, himself, is playing on a $1M contract this year and outperforming you.
I seriously doubt he’s gonna get a $500m contract. If he did what would that do to Ohtani’s asking price? The Pad’s signed what, six or seven players to extensions already. They haven’t done that with Soto. That should tell him he shouldn’t get too comfortable in SD.
deGrom Texas Ranger
When will he discuss his failed performance in SD, though?
He’ll bounce back and put up excellent numbers but you do doubt that he’ll get a comparable offer now that he’s older and numbers not as elite. Probably left a bit on the table but he still has some time to get his value back up.
Another Boras client who shot his load early and will probably play himself out of the payday he’s passed up. Just like Bryant, CarGo, and Cody. Hopefully teams will be able to avoid the big Boras client bombs like Rendon, Davis, Prince, Hampton, and Strasburg
Where was the comment a couple days ago when my daughter was learning about fallacies because you have so many examples!
The Padres are pretty much a .500 team since acquiring Soto
Not Soto’s fault. He’s batted .220 for them.
Padres have underwhelmed so far but Tatis alone can resurrect that offense. Pitching doesn’t seem elite though. May have to make another pitching acquisition or two, or just have to outscore opponents.
Tatis might just resurrect the offense. He might also push Soto to the bench.
Vince Ferragamo's Dog
Till Tatis is popped again 4HRs through better chemistry
Tatis is not going to push Soto to the bench. Odor or Grisham will be going to bench to accommodate Tatis.
I’m sure you’re joking but Soto is going to be just fine. His batting average might not be great but the OBP and OPS will be elite.
Who advises this guy? Then he started crying? I’m sorry I can’t feel bad for him. He will eventually regret his decision turning down money like that.
So he walks a lot
Just a guy trying to feed his family.
Holy crap how much do they eat ?
Soto is rolling over everything. He’s turned his hands over well after they were through the zone. 2022 and this year, he turns them over just after contact. He’s also collapsing his back leg. There’s no power coming through the zone and he’s rolling over the pitches. Eye is still good. Pitch choice is still great.
He may figure that out if he quit worrying about his shimmer but I doubt it
Hired Gun 23
Soto will get a close to what he is seeking payday. But I gotta admit, I haven’t been too impressed so far. Maybe as the season moves forward, Juan will start being the player the Padres traded for. Only time will tell…
Soto’s up there trying to make it seem like he was the one who cut off discussions after the Nats leaked their number.
The Nats leaked the number because they were cutting off negotiations.
“We tried, here’s what we offered, please attend games during the rebuild, p.s. here’s the trade return.”
I’m a Nats fan who sang happy birthday to Soto at Nats Park during the World Series and I was devastated to see him go (trade return was good) but he comes off in SI like an ignorant kid fighting for the last word after the adults left the room.
The Nats were never serious about keeping him
Agreed, the Nationals handled the Soto situation in much the same way as Bryce Harper a few years prior. They decide on a number that will publicly look fair and, if the player doesn’t agree, they’re ready to demonstrate to their fanbase that they tried.
I know the Friars are deep down thinking just give him the $400 million that Arson Judge turned down from us. It would be a crime if Soto left the Pods after giving up all those prospects to get him. Is it possible that he’ll want more than $500 million, with an extension?
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Soto is a hotdog without a bun. Who will relish this guy now we see he can’t cut the mustard? He needs to ketchup to his ability.
When Bell & Soto came to the Pads they looked invincible. What happened?
What happened? They went to the NLCS.
Curly Was The Smart Stooge
Did they win? I don’t remember them being on the podium…
Well to be frank, it’s early in the season and the weather’s been a little chile.
$500m is for sure the target
$500M is so far off the table right now that it bounced all the way over to the woodpile.
@goob- ok maybe he’s struggling right now. I understand that, but you can’t actually be serious? You do realize Soto definitely has to be in the top 5 of the game today.
@Capt99 I’m going to have to agree with the “he’s not worth it” crowd for now. He has all the skills to be the BEST player in the game but he’s got to show he’s able to bounce back from last year and this season. Look at Jason Heyward’s career path after signing with the Cubs. He’s no Soto but careers can stall and even regress.
My qualifier was “right now”. Could a sustained return to his prior excellence could change all that? Of course it could.
Too soon to tell if he’ll get another offer equal, or better than what he turned down. His numbers in SD say no; the numbers in DC say yes. But the SD stats are from a small sample, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he does beat the extension offer.
If he starts hitting like he did for the Nat’s he’ll probably top Trout’s $426.5M deal. Of course if he doesn’t get back to his former production, he might be sorry he didn’t take that first offer.
Judging by his words, I think he’s at peace with possibly not getting that similar amount of money. When Boras is your agent, numbers are going to go public so he should accept that fact if he becomes a FA. Soto is still maturing as a person.
Soto is just another overrated analytics darling, who gets on base but cannot run or play defense.
Those are big words coming from a man with such a small sample size
He fell off a cliff last season plus the first month of this season. 7 months is definitely not a small sample size.
“Guys, I’m trying to do what’s best for me and what’s best for my family.”
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and speculate that not too many people would accuse a man of not doing right by his family after signing a $440MM contract…
the same thought came to my mind. 440 million isnt enough for your family? Really?
Because money is the only thing that matters?
Soto has a couple of things against him.
He takes a lot of walks. Statistically, that helps him look a lot better, but it also does not help a team that has a runner at second base.
He has also proven himself to not be a great outfielder. He’s serviceable. Jurickson Profar was more impressive in left field than Soto is this year.
His family and fellow countrymen might be right, he may have bet on himself and the house might just win that one. If the Padres re-sign him on some megadeal, I would have to think it would be like another Eric Hosmer signing. Part-time greatness with a full-time megadeal is not so desirable. Fortunately, the Padres don’t really have to offer/sign anything for 300 games…
Soto likes money and he wants lots more than $440M. I’m with Preacher Roe, the bear ate Soto on this one. Either way he will achieve generational wealth.
The Nats dodged a bullet.
I would love to have anxiety over a 440 million dollar deal.
He keeps up his current level of play and he’s not touching $440 million. And yes, it’s very much realistic that he drops. This isn’t some 2 week slow start. He wasn’t great last year either and given how young he is and how quick his defense is declining
Padres might pay him and give him a opt out so they can pay him even more. They can’t do anything that would surprise me.
Turning down $440 million turned teammates and family against him; accepting that kind of money will also turn teammates against you for different reasons. As for the family, i guess he found out who the moochers are.
The underlying message in turning down a deal like that is that ultimately it’s not where he wanted to be for the next decade-plus. Washington leaking the numbers was “hey, we tried” and put the blame on the player
Yankees tried that with Judge but ended up paying more
Excellent PR move. Fans should be glad they traded him.
Overrated AF. Do NOT pay him.
He had one really good year and as far as really good years go, it was a fairly average really good year in the grand scheme of baseball. At that level he was still absolutely worth about $30M a year on the open market, maybe up to $35M or a bit more in a bidding war, but at that level, that’d mean he was turning down *maybe* an extra $30M from the open market. Which is nothing at that level. And even spread across a few extra seasons, what would it really matter?
Lots of people in this comment section that will conveniently forget any doubts they had about him by the All-Star break. Bank on it.
Poor choice of words all around – admitting everybody was disappointed in him or judged him for turning down the offer- there’s a difference between the Player’s Union telling a guy who’s very near free agency to turn down an unequivocally lowball offer because it hurts everybody in the long run vs turning down a record breaking deal at close to the average highest AAV’s on most major contracts because it’s “what’s best for my family”. Is your family really going to *need* that extra $100M or so you’re possibly leaving on the table at that level? It’s one thing if leaving $100M on the table equals something like 50% or more of your potential free agency contract, but it’s another thing when it’d represent less than 20% of a potential free agency contract you might sign if everything goes perfectly.
Soto is playing himself into a 1 year/$35M pillow contract if he’s lucky, possibly followed by 6 years/$200M or so…. basically he’s positioning himself to be the next Carlos Correa. By holding out for a record breaking deal in principle, he’s forgoing record breaking offers already on the table and giving himself more time to underperform and talk himself out of favor in the press pre-free agency until he has to settle for something that is a fraction of the value.
Right now? He kinda played himself. He isn’t hitting the IL and then coming back at full productivity- he’s staying ostensibly healthy and on the field but isn’t producing. He may have over corrected and unlearned what made him good, except for his ability to draw walks. So then he’s… who? Aaron Hicks? I’d maybe offer him 2 years/$53M w/ a club option to exercise 7 years/$248.5M and the ability to trigger a 3 year/$72M player option if his club option is turned down, w/ an option for either side to opt out entirely for a flat $7M buyout to make it 2 years/$60M.
Beyond that though I think he’s too much of a risk to have already regressed to the point of being a vague value- more upside and potential than actual tangible value.
Currently he’s pacing for about 3.1 WAR, which is worth around $9M to $20M depending on the player and the market. A far cry from $40M or whatever the AAV was he had been aiming for in order to properly “do what’s best for me and my family.”
On an unrelated note:
I think winning a $500 million lottery is what’s best for me and my family, not winning a $20 million lottery. So, you know, gotta just bite the bullet and insist on it.
I would think the best thing for a family is to have both parents at home. Just sayin’
Despite the lousy start, the Padres just won the season series with Atlanta 4 -3. In the end, that might end up being the most important factoid of the first twenty games of the season.
Vince Ferragamo's Dog
Basbol has been berry berry good to me
To quote Journey – “Some will win, some will lose. Some are born to sing the blues (Soto). Oh the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on.”
Positive regression? You mean progression?
Are these articles or infomercials? It seems like when a good player sucks sour buttermilk they try to attribute it to luck, bad bounces, wind-currents, or other weakass excuses.
Just say the guy has underperformed! It’s okay! If Soto somehow doesn’t get his über deal, we’ll somehow all cope!