The Padres made one of the “greatest trade acquisitions in baseball history” by landing Nationals LF Juan Soto along with 1B Josh Bell, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. The price is “awfully steep,” but “what’s a few prospects when you get a chance to get one of the most dynamic hitters in baseball in Soto, who becomes the first multi-time All-Star to be traded before the age of 24?” The Padres may “still be a wild-card team, but, oh, will they ever be dangerous in October.” This is a team that was “desperate for greatness.” They already have two players with contracts in “excess of $300 million” with SS Fernando Tatis Jr. and 3B Manny Machado. The Padres believe “now is the time to go all in,” and if they want to “recoup some of their prized prospects, they can simply trade Soto before he’s eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.” They have “changed the narrative with a prospect trading spree rarely seen in baseball” (USA TODAY, 8/2).
GO BIG OR GO HOME: In San Diego, Tom Krasovic writes the move “warrants a standing ovation in San Diego, even as the price in young talent should induce gulps and gasps as one gazes years ahead.” For the Padres to ever win a World Series, the “investment strategy may boil down to go big or go home at some point” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/3). In San Diego, Bryce Miller writes Padres President of Baseball Operations & GM A.J. Preller might be the “mad scientist,” but “none of this happens — nada, zero, zilch — without” Padres Chair Peter Seidler’s “willingness to consider everything and wring the checkbook like a dish rag.” Padres manager Bob Melvin said, “A.J. was given the green light to do these things. This all starts with Peter. I don’t know what we look like as far as the (luxury tax) goes. I can’t imagine we’ve gone down. So that’s the commitment (that puts) all players, all teams, in a great position, knowing your owner is that committed to giving you the best chance to win” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/3).
ONE IN A MILLION: In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes Soto is “that good.” That is why he could “confidently turn down a $440 million contract offer from the Nationals” last month. That is why he “commanded an exorbitant package of players from the Padres in a deal that rattled the sport” on yesterday’s trading deadline. The Padres “cannot sustain their level of spending, both in dollars and in prospect capital, forever.” But Preller “spent years preparing for life as a contender,” and now he is “living out the fantasy.” Kepner: “Nobody acted with quite the same desperation as the Padres, who have waited many years for this moment” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/3). THE ATHLETIC’s Andy McCullough wrote Preller executed the “most extraordinary maneuver of his tenure.” To do so, he “accomplished something some within his profession felt close to impossible.” He “assembled a collection of players enticing enough” to pry Soto away from the Nationals. McCullough wrote a player like Soto has “never been traded away in this generation.” The “reverberations from this tectonic shift will extend far beyond Tuesday” (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/2).
MANEUVERING THE SYSTEM: In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes trades like the one the Padres made “are not magical.” The Padres “planted the seeds in 2016, when they upgraded their minor league system by outspending every other team on international amateurs: $60 million in all.” They could “trade top prospects because they had them” (L.A. TIMES, 8/3).
A DODGERS MISSTEP: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes the “idea that these Padres were even in the Dodgers’ league was unthinkable just a few days ago,” but Preller “emptied his pockets for the Nationals to get Soto and apparently outbid a rich and deep organization that should never be outbid by anyone for anything.” Plaschke: “Soto was a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition, and while the Dodgers didn’t exactly need him, they certainly didn’t need him to go to one of their division rivals” (L.A. TIMES, 8/3).