No question this offseason, the San Diego Padres have spent money to sign key components of the team to long-term contract extensions. The spending spree began with the signing of Padres top starting pitcher Yu Darvish to a six-year, $108 million deal, then the big money commitment (11-years, $350 million) to Manny Machado. Both were good business decisions to lock up the Friars’ core, but it begs to question if there is enough money to sign Juan Soto to an extension.
San Diego Padres: Juan Soto has clear case for contract extension
The case is clear for the Friars’ “do-it-all” outfielder. Soto went from one of the top international free agents to a World Series champion and two-time All-Star in no time. Arguably, he is the best left-handed hitter in MLB today. Some baseball analysts may describe Soto as a throwback player from the 1990s.
Why? Well, he makes consistent contact and does not strike out too much. Soto uses the entire field to beat most defensive alignments. He is willing to take pitches and draw a walk. Soto has a knack for timely hitting (career .723 OPS) with runners in scoring position and possesses enough power to hit the ball over the fence to tie or take the lead late in games. And the young superstar has the instincts to steal a base that begins a scoring rally.
Thankfully, opposing teams will no longer be able to shift on him, but they still can get creative with the new defensive positioning rules to limit his production. However, if Soto is hot with the bat, it will not matter how a team defends him.
San Diego Padres fortunate to acquire one of few diamonds in rough
The 24-year-old grew up in the Dominican Republic. His mentors preached the fundamentals of baseball to him at a young age. It helped Soto to rise quickly through the Washington Nationals minor league system and become the organization’s top prospect.
He made his major league debut at 19 years old and showed his bat belonged at this level. Soto became the fourth player (Bryce Harper, Tony Conigliaro and Mel Ott) to record 100 extra-base hits before his 21st birthday, and he is the youngest major leaguer to hit a home run in a World Series game.
Last season, Soto was attached to every trade rumor before the deadline. The reason being is he rejected Washington’s contract extension offer. It forced team management to shop their superstar for a quality package in return. The Padres had no qualms about sending their top prospects to acquire Soto, and neither side is disappointed with the value brought to each organization. Do not be surprised before season’s end that Soto becomes the Padres’ most trusted bat.
What type of agreement could occur between San Diego Padres and Juan Soto
The biggest question remaining to extend the All-Star outfielder is the role his agent will have in the process. Scott Boras loves having his clients test the open market. The more teams bidding, the larger the contract gained for their services.
You will not hear much coming out of the Padres front office. Any conversation with Soto and his high-profile agent will be kept internal. Team owner Peter Seidler does not believe in negotiating with a player via the media. He likes keeping the process private until an agreement is in sight.
If the Padres extend Soto, you might see a short-term deal (four years, $160 million) with an opt-out clause. A longer-term contract is out of the realm of possibility as the number could get tricky for the Padres. The franchise needs to stay within the salary luxury tax threshold. Currently, the Friars will pay a $10 million penalty for the 2023 season.
A potential agreement of this nature allows Soto to hit the free agent market before his 30th birthday. It would give him one last chance to secure a second big-money payday.
But the Friar Faithful has seen Seidler do whatever is necessary to key his star players in the fold.
And Soto is worth the money.