In case Juan Soto's 2023 season (and total body of work) didn't do a good enough job advocating for the slugger to receive a massive contract when he reaches free agency, Scott Boras tried his best to bolster the case on Wednesday.
It didn't take a lot of thorough dot connecting in recent weeks to come to the conclusion that Soto could be available this offseason. The extremely expensive Padres might've been 2023's biggest non-Mets disappointment. Soto is due ~$30 million entering his final year of arbitration. The Padres expressed a desire to cut their payroll by $50 million, something that was heavily reported even before The Athletic revealed the team had recently asked for $100 million in loans (and been granted $50 million). Trading Soto from a middling team would clearly be the simplest way to bolster the farm system and clear salary concurrently.
But AJ Preller and Peter Seidler showed everybody last offseason that they don't, uh, intend to go quietly and hide behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They'd rather rattle some cages. Would the team really cut bait on their entire operation because of one tough year, stuck with plenty of salaries they can't clear? Jon Heyman doesn't seem to think it's in the Padres' DNA to explore a Soto deal so soon.
Neither does Boras; he claimed on Wednesday that the plan San Diego's brass recently presented him includes Soto in their lineup.
Yankees might have to wait one year to have a chance at Juan Soto
Or, at least, until the trade deadline.
Boras, of course, has a self-centered (well, mutually beneficial) end goal here, and that's getting Soto to free agency. Whether he's traded this winter or this summer, expect him to reach next November without managing to get tied down on a hefty extension along the way.
That doesn't mean the Padres don't have significant incentive to trade him as soon as possible. Nobody wants to be the Arte Moreno Angels, continually fooled into partial contention while squandering every ounce of Shohei Ohtani's trade value -- until it's too late.
Boras' goal might be quieting trade talks, especially if he thinks he can goad the Yankees into overpaying for Cody Bellinger along the way. But the super agent's statement Wednesday wasn't a be all, end all on Soto's availability. It was just a deterrant to anyone who thinks they might have a leg up on paying the slugger if they manage to get him in the building.