There’s all in. Then there’s what the Padres are doing.
In the last three seasons, the Padres have added the likes of Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger, Jorge Alfaro, Austin Nola, Trent Grisham, Nomar Mazara, Josh Hader, and now, reportedly, none other than 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto. They’ve also signed world-class shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (also 23) to a 14-year, $340 million extension — although they need to find a way to keep him off of motorcycles and on the field.
Once the deal is final, Soto, Tatis, and Machado will team up to establish one of the most formidable trios in all of baseball, one that will be hoping to bring San Diego their first World Series title since…well, ever.
The Padres are one of six teams in MLB history to have never won a World Series, and have been around longer than anyone else on that list. For so much of their history, they’ve been losers. They’ve finished with a losing record in 36 out of their 53 seasons, and have made the playoffs just six times. They’ve been to the World Series twice — a 4-1 loss to Detroit in 1984 and a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Yankees in 1998.
And after so many years of being in the NL West doghouse, Padres GM A.J. Preller finally said enough was enough.
They went all-in in 2020 and 2021, but to no avail.
In 2020, they got swept by the Dodgers in the 2020 NLDS. And in 2021, they somehow missed the playoffs altogether, and finished with yet another losing record. This time, however, it feels a little different.
With the impending acquisition of Soto, as well as 2019 All-Star first baseman Josh Bell who came back in the deal, the Padres have one of the best “tops-of-the-lineup” in baseball history. They also have one of the strongest rotations in baseball, and just added Hader to clean up the back end of their bullpen.
Preller and the Padres have been uber-aggressive these last few seasons, but have to feel like this trade is the one that will finally put them over the top.
The Padres do currently trail the Dodgers by 12 games in the NL West, and may not be able to catch them this season. But they do have a two-game lead for the second NL wild-card spot, and are expecting Tatis to return at some point in the near future. Their World Series odds have jumped from +2000 to +1100 since the Soto deal.
And even if this year isn’t the year, Soto is under team control until 2024, and a fully loaded Padres team next year should make a ton of noise in the NL. They’ll definitely be must-watch television every single night.
The Padres’ immediate next step should be negotiating an extension with Soto. We already saw him reject a record 15-year, $440 million extension, but that may have had more to do with him not wanting to be a National. He may accept a similar offer from the Padres, or he may demand a little more. Whatever the case, the Padres just wiped their entire farm system for him, so you have to imagine they want him in a Padre uniform for the next 15+ years.
The battle for the NL West in 2023 and beyond just got a whole lot more interesting. The Padres knew they needed to make a move to keep up with the juggernaut that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were also reportedly competing with the Dodgers to acquire Soto. Allowing him to go to Los Angeles would have been beyond deflating.
So, the Padres, who were already all-in, went even more all-in, and are now just about as all-in as a team has ever been in MLB history. Anything short of a World Series will consider this team one of the biggest failures in MLB history. But good news for them — their World Series window is just starting to open.