San Diego Padres majority owner Peter Seidler gave A.J. Preller the go ahead, and the club’s maverick general manager went berserk like a kid in a candy shop. Not only did he trade to acquire prize slugger Juan Soto from the Washington Nationals, Preller also negotiated to grab the Nat’s switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell. And earlier in the week, the 45 year old executive traded for Josh Hader, considered one of baseball’s premier closers. But according to San Diego’s veteran manager Bob Melvin, it was Seidler’s desire to win now that got the ball rolling.
“Peter has been all in, which is great,” confirmed Melvin. “He deserves a tip of the cap, and A.J. too.”
As with all trades, there was plenty of give and take. In order to get Soto and Bell, the Padres will send pitchers Mackenzie Gore and Jarlin Susana, plus shortstop C.J Abrams and outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood. Four of the five were former number one picks by San Diego in past amateur drafts. First baseman Eric Hosmer was also part of that original package, but a clause in his contract enabled him to veto the trade. Later in the day, Hosmer was sent to the Boston Red Sox instead, although the Padres will be on the hook for most of the $45 million remaining on his deal. Then to sweeten the pot and complete the Soto agreement, the Friars threw in first baseman/DH Luke Voit.
To obtain Hader, San Diego sent pitchers Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet, Robert Gasser and speedy outfielder Esteury Ruiz to the Milwaukee Brewers. However, the Padres weren’t done yet. About an hour prior to the 6pm deadline on August 2nd, GM Preller picked up versatile veteran Brandon Drury, who was having a career year with the Cincinnati Reds. Indeed, the dog days of August have stated out well for the Padres, kicking things off with the announcement that ace hurler Joe Musgrove‘s contract had been extended. The deal calls for the local native to bank $100 million over the next five years, and was a key piece of business for Preller. Among the new additions, only Josh Bell will be eligible for free agency in 2023.
Injured star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. will go out for his first rehab game this week, and skipper Melvin is cautiously optimistic. Upon El Niño’s return, he’ll combine with Manny Machado, Soto, Bell, Jurickson Profar, Will Myers, Jorge Alfaro, Jake Cronenworth and perhaps Drury as one of the most powerful offenses in the National League. And with a starting rotation of Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea, the Padres are well equipped to make some noise in October.
The mentality in San Diego is simple … Just win NOW, baby.