All-Star Outfielder Juan Soto Likely to Remain with San Diego Padres for 2024 Season
By Julia Stumbaugh | November 9, 2023
All-Star outfielder Juan Soto, who is entering the final season of his current contract, is expected to stay with the San Diego Padres for the start of the 2024 season, according to sources.
The Padres have made it clear that they are open to offers for Soto this winter, but it is more likely that the team will wait until next July to make a decision, as reported by The Athletic’s Jim Bowden. By then, the Padres will have a better understanding of their postseason chances.
Soto, projected to earn $33 million through arbitration next season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2025. Currently, the Padres and Soto are not close to reaching an extension agreement, as stated by Bowden.
In the 2023 season, Soto led the National League with 132 walks, achieving a team-best .410 on-base percentage and earning his third All-Star selection.
Despite Soto’s impressive performance, the Padres fell short of postseason success. After their 2022 NLCS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, which marked their deepest playoff run since 1998, the Padres were expected to dominate the NL West in 2023. However, they ended up with a mediocre 55-56 record at the trade deadline.
Nevertheless, the Padres remained active in the market, retaining pending free agents such as pitchers Blake Snell and Josh Hader, while also acquiring depth pieces through prospect trades.
Despite a late surge, including a 19-7 record in September, the Padres ultimately missed the postseason. Consequently, both Snell and Hader, who have expressed interest in returning to the Padres, will enter the free-agent market.
Even with a .500 record, the Padres were willing to take the risk. The question now is whether they will take a similar gamble with Soto if they find themselves in a playoff position as the 2024 trade deadline approaches.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller stated in October that the team’s priority is to negotiate an extension with Soto. Without a guaranteed extension, the Padres face the possibility of losing a star player for nothing. Soto’s value in free agency is expected to be astronomical, considering he previously turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals.
The Padres’ decision regarding Soto’s future may ultimately depend on the offers they receive this offseason. According to Bowden, the team is open to listening to potential trade proposals.