With a few days to go before the 2023 MLB trade deadline, everyone is wondering what the San Diego Padres are going to do. Entering Friday night's game against the Texas Rangers, the Padres are 49-54, sit 10 games out of first place in the NL West and are 6.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot. While general manager A.J. Preller would love to add to his team and make a run, he's begun taking calls on impending free agents Blake Snell and Josh Hader. One thing I can tell you for certain, the Padres will not trade slugger Juan Soto.
With Shohei Ohtani pulled off the trade market, content-makers around baseball have begun bringing Soto's name up as a superstar who could be on the move. I'm here to tell you most of that is based solely on vibes and a desire to have a big name to discuss at the deadline. The Padres have given zero indication Soto is available or that they have any other plan than extending him in the offseason. Talking to people in the organization, they knew these rumors were inevitable despite the fact that there's no validity to them.
Soto has a year of team control left and is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2024 season. The Padres would like to engage his team -- led by Scott Boras -- in talks on a long-term extension this winter. They fully believe he'll be a Padre for a long time and have not made him available in trade talks. Their feeling could change this offseason based on how discussions with Boras go, but for now they are locked in on their plan.
Here's where I create a caveat: If someone comes at the Padres with an enormous package that would be irresponsible to turn down, maybe that stance changes. No one is ever "untouchable" in Preller's world -- save for maybe 17-year-old catching phenom Ethan Salas. But the Padres would have to receive a package rivaling what they sent the Washington Nationals for Soto last summer. As a reminder, that included two top 100 prospects (one who is now a top 10 prospect in the game), plus two rookies who had formerly been top 10 prospects and an 18-year-old righty who regularly hit triple-digits. It was a monster haul for the Nationals.
That's the kind of deal San Diego would expect in return for a 24-year-old who is a generational hitter and has seemingly found his form again after a year of career upheaval. Here is where I also tell you that with only one-plus year left of team control instead of two, the rest of MLB's teams probably wouldn't be willing to meet Preller's price. Which is why a deal wouldn't happen even if the Padres were considering it.
Additionally, Preller and owner Peter Seidler plan to compete for championships, and not just over the next few seasons. Their goal is to create a decade-long window for the Padres to be in the mix. That vision is fueled by a combination high-priced superstars and low-cost young players brought in through the draft and international signings. Grouping a number of stars together has led to uneven results on the field, but you can't argue with the outcome in the stands. San Diego is fourth in average attendance per game (40,518), and has a franchise-record 40 sellouts in 48 games at Petco Park. The ownership group is not going to blow that goodwill up by moving one of its cornerstones.
Despite the breathless articles you're bound to see over the next few days, the Padres are not shopping Soto. They want him to stay in San Diego for the rest of his career. The vision of a core based around Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts is still alive. And Soto's lefty bat is a huge part of that construction.