MLB

Padres all-in on Juan Soto, aim to keep him in San Diego 'for many years to come'

By Sports Desk October 25, 2022

The San Diego Padres are all in on superstar Juan Soto, with general manager A.J. Preller telling reporters on Tuesday the goal is to have him around "for many years to come".

Soto was acquired from the Washington Nationals in a blockbuster trade at this season's deadline after turning down a 15-year, $440million contract extension.

The Dominican Republic product celebrated his 24th birthday on Tuesday, and he already has two All-Star appearances, three top-10 MVP finishes and a Home Run Derby crown to his name.

This past season was Soto's worst of his career at the plate, hitting just .242 to lower his career average to .287, but he showed he still has the elite plate discipline that makes him such an outlier at his age.

He has now started his career with five consecutive seasons where he has an on-base percentage above .400, and despite a career-worst slugging percentage of .452, his 27 home runs were only two fewer than the previous year where he was named MVP runner-up.

Soto was disappointing in the first two rounds of this year's postseason, but hit a pair of home runs in the Padres' NLCS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies as he began to rediscover his power.

Prior to the trade, Soto was considered one of the best young players in the history of the sport, and a few cold months of batting have done nothing to change that as the Padres have control over him for two more seasons before he becomes eligible for free agency.

Addressing the media, Preller made it clear that a long-term extension for Soto is the organisation's priority, while dancing around their plans for out-of-contract closing pitcher Josh Hader, who they also acquired at the deadline.

"They're guys that, you know, in Juan's case should be here for many years to come," he said. "I think we'll have that conversation. All this is pretty fresh. 

"From Juan's standpoint, he's getting to know the city and getting to know the organization. When we made the deal, we made it knowing that we got him for three pennant races. 

"He's an incredibly talented player, he's an impact player, and we'll have those conversations here. This offseason is kind of taking the temperature, seeing where his head is at going forward."

After sneaking into the playoffs, the 89-win Padres eliminated the 101-win New York Mets and the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers in back-to-back series, and manager Bob Melvin said they will be aiming even higher next season.

"Much higher," he said. "You look at the core guys we have coming back, this is going to be as good a group as anybody."

Preller added: "This is a taste of what's to come".

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