The San Diego Padres’ acquisitions of star slugger Juan Soto and power-hitting first baseman Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals have increased their chances of making the MLB playoffs.
Soto and Josh Bell were added to the lineup on Wednesday, joining All-Star slugger Manny Machado. Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is also expected to recover from a broken left wrist in a few weeks.
According to FanGraphs, the Padres’ playoff odds increased from 84.8 percent on Tuesday to 95.9 percent on Wednesday.
“We can look anybody in the eye now,” said Padres chairman Seidler. “Whatever it is — starting pitchers, relief pitchers, depth. Whatever our starting nine looks like, any given day, the options we have for Bob Melvin, it’s taken the whole thing to another level.”
A.J. Preller shows talent hunting mastery with Juan Soto trade
Since being named general manager in August 2014, A.J. Preller has been working hard to make changes in the Padres.
He approached manager Bob Melvin on a late Monday night about a possible trade that would include not only the 23-year-old Soto but also Bell, arguably the second-best slugger on the market this summer.
According to Preller, his scouting team was one of the most critical aspects of the Soto and Bell trades. Preller said they “constantly have players that other teams covet and want” on their shopping list.
In a press conference, Preller said that there was “a lot of back and forth,” but they “got to the Bell inclusion at the end”.
Preller offered the Nats a deal of five highly rated young players and first baseman Luke Voit in exchange for Soto. Soto is the first player to appear in multiple All-Star Games and switch teams before the age of 24.
Preller’s approach to team management
Preller presided over a mishandled team buildup, the subsequent teardown, a free agent spending spree, and two historic midseason trades.
Eric Hosmer’s acquisition was widely regarded as a bad decision at the time. After becoming a free agent following the 2017 season, Hosmer signed an eight-year contract with the Padres. Trea Turner was drafted in the first round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft by San Diego and traded to Washington in 2015.
Turner, who was primarily developed as a shortstop by the Padres and Nationals, made his major league debut as Washington’s starting center fielder in 2016. He became the best player in the trade by 2016.
The Tampa Bay Rays traded Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, and Jose Castillo to the Padres as part of a three-team deal on December 19, 2014. Myers was the only one to make an impact in the majors.
Despite the splashy deals and big names, the influx of star power, and the flood of financial commitments, Preller and the Padres have yet to translate their aggressiveness into postseason success.
They have not only failed to make deep runs in the fall, but they have only made the playoffs once during his tenure with the team. During that time, they have never managed to win a postseason game.
Last year, when Padres owner Peter Seidler decided to extend Preller’s contract until 2026, he received criticism. Seidler was confident that Preller’s methods would be successful.
Preller added Soto to a lineup that was underperforming. Without the injured Tatis, they relied heavily on Manny Machado early in the season and recorded the lowest on-base-plus-slugging percentage of any National League team.