Juan Soto may want to test free agency in 2024 – how that affects Padres’ asking price, his next destination

Juan Soto is participating for the second year in a row.

The San Diego Padres are looking to trim some cash and fill out a rotation that could almost all become free agents.

So, naturally, the Padres want a lot A 25-year-old perennial MVP candidate – an MLB-ready pitcher, a top prospect, and maybe even better.

However, there is likely a wrinkle in the Padres’ potential offer, with reports circulating that Soto intends to test free agency after the 2024 season.


Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres celebrates after hitting a home run against the Tigers on July 21, 2023 at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

Who could blame him? He has become one of the hottest players in free agency history and is rumored to have a contract worth more than $500 million or even $600 million, compared to current free agent Shohei Ohtani. There may even be more.

At this point, Soto can only negotiate a long-term contract with the Padres. If and when he ends up being traded (likely at this week’s Winter Meetings), he would only be able to negotiate with his new team.

As a free agent, he can negotiate with 30 players.

So, with that in mind, some clubs, even elite clubs, will operate under the impression that they can only acquire one-year rentals.

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As a result, the Yankees are reportedly having trouble including top prospect Jasson Dominguez and 22-year-old rookie and recent Gold Glove Award winner Anthony Volpe in trade talks. In fact, negotiations between the Yanks and Padres reportedly stalled after San Diego sought pitcher Michael King and up to six prospects.

Juan Soto hits an RBI double

Juan Soto of the Padres celebrates his one-run double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the National League Championship Series at Petco Park in San Diego on October 19, 2022. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Of course, teams like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs have deep pockets, so they have the advantage of not necessarily having to make rental trades.

But with that in mind, it could mean a small-market club could exceed his estimated $33 million arbitration salary in just one season. For a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, who just won 99 games, are still looking for their first World Series championship, and always seem to know exactly who to trade and whom to trade, It seems very attractive.

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So a team knowing Soto only has one season left can either accept the fact that they’re overpaying for his services, stick with the offer and hope the Padres bite, or worst case scenario. You can either expect that to happen. They are in the same place they are already.

But why should a team with deep pockets go to the trouble of offering young talent when they know they’ll be in the Soto sweepstakes this time next year when they don’t need it next year? ?

Juan Soto with Padres in Seattle

Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres smiles during Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on July 10, 2023. (Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)


Without a doubt, Soto’s name will be one of the most mentioned players this week and throughout the rest of the offseason. Almost every insider and executive feels they will be impressed.

But if he’s definitely a one-year rental (which seems to be the consensus), the Padres may need to lower their expectations for what they get back.

Soto struggled in 2022, but showed off his talent last year with a batting average of .275, 35 home runs, 109 RBIs, and a .930 OPS. Last season, he led the majors in walks for the third time in his career with 132. Over his career, he has a .946 OPS and ranks among the active players in on-base percentage (.421), ranking in the top four. – 9 of his MVP finishes – he finished 6th last season.

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