SAN DIEGO — Juan Soto had slightly landed, Josh Bell had simply sat down and Josh Hader was once beginning to be informed his new teammates’ names when Peter Seidler, the Padres’ proprietor, declared that “the art of the possible is here.”
But simply as briefly because the Padres had reset all expectancies for his or her season — and the franchise’s long term — with a frenzied whirlwind on the Major League Baseball buying and selling time limit, the Los Angeles Dodgers delivered a fiery reminder of what San Diego nonetheless has to conquer, sweeping their department opponents in a three-game collection at Dodger Stadium.
As the sweep was once taking place, Seidler mentioned the Dodgers stay “the dragon up the freeway that we’re trying to slay.”
At the very least, San Diego’s daring strikes made it transparent that they’re all-in at the dragon chasing. And as Soto and his new teammates commute to Washington for a three-game collection that starts Friday, the optimism for what might be the Padres’ long term will be offering a harsh reminder to Nationals lovers of what as soon as was once Washington’s fact.
“The big challenge for us is to play winning baseball, No. 1,” Seidler mentioned this week. “And No. 2, play it out and see when the best time is to talk to Juan about an extension. It’s all new to him right now. It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but you want him here long-term, period.”
This, to Seidler, will be the logical execution of “the art of the possible.” To others, it should appear outlandishly inconceivable: The Padres have already got 3rd baseman Manny Machado, 30, signed for 10 years and $300 million thru 2028 and Fernando Tatis Jr., a 23-year-old shortstop and outfielder, for 14 years at $340 million thru 2034. Keeping Soto long-term would exceed either one of the ones offers.
The just right information is, there’s time. In Soto, 23, they obtained a famous person who nonetheless has two-and-a-half years of membership regulate. But his eventual contract calls for will loom huge, even for a crew with a hastily increasing funds. This is a generational slugger who will succeed in unfastened company at 26. Before the buying and selling time limit, he declined Washington’s be offering of 15 years and $440 million, which might have set a listing for biggest greenback worth of any contract in main league historical past.
And as San Diego indisputably is aware of, Soto’s agent, Scott Boras, isn’t within the industry of providing reductions.
But Padres lovers, against this to a name for infrequent ambivalence, have replied with wild enthusiasm to the membership’s contemporary string of huge concepts and larger gambles. San Diego ranked 5th in M.L.B. in attendance at 36,947 lovers in line with sport thru Wednesday, trailing best the Dodgers, St. Louis, the Yankees and Atlanta, the reigning champion. The Padres were enjoying to 91.5 p.c capability at Petco Park. According to figures received from M.L.B., best Atlanta (93.4 p.c) ranks upper.
The Padres additionally rank 5th within the majors with a club-record $220 million payroll.
“What we’re still in the process of assessing is how much revenue we can generate from that increased fan support and then, long-term, run the payroll off of something that is organically supportable through revenue we can generate in our local market,” mentioned Erik Greupner, the Padres’ leader government, who added: “I would say the early returns on this increased commitment to payroll have been very strong and would seem to indicate we would be able to support — year-in and year-out — a level of payroll that exceeds what the Padres have historically been able to do in our market.
“I don’t know the answer yet, and I don’t know that anyone does, but I know we’re sure going to find out what level this market will support.”
Beyond the greenbacks and cents, the Padres paid a steep worth for Soto and Bell, a switch-hitting first baseman, in potentialities. They despatched a six-piece package deal to Washington that incorporated 3 gamers who had taken turns being ranked because the No. 1 prospect within the San Diego farm machine: the left-handed pitcher Mackenzie Gore, shortstop C.J. Abrams and outfielder Robert Hassell III.
A.J. Preller, the Padres’ president of baseball operations, speaks of the years’ value of sweat fairness that went into obtaining and creating the ones gamers, the funding in them as other people and getting to grasp their members of the family, and admits it by no means is straightforward to ship away top-shelf skill.
“But as hard as it was to deal those guys, you just don’t get an opportunity to get a Soto, a Josh Bell, a Hader, too,” Preller mentioned. “Players who have been the best players in their positions or field, and still have years of control left. In Juan’s case, he’s just 23 years old and is doing historic things. It was more a unique opportunity, and we looked at it as such. We knew it was going to take a lot and we had a lot in the system leading us into making the deal.”
One yr in the past, the Padres swung and overlooked on the time limit, making an attempt arduous for starter Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner earlier than the Nationals despatched them to the Dodgers. The dragon changed into greater. The Padres saved chasing.
The first inning of the primary sport of the new-look Padres got here towards Colorado on Aug. 3, and the entirety gave the impression to have fallen into position. One of the crew’s different learners — Brandon Drury, an infielder obtained from Cincinnati — smashed a first-inning grand slam at the first pitch he noticed as a Padre. The sellout crowd, buoyed through single-day, club-record price ticket gross sales after the Soto information, roared.
San Diego then misplaced 5 video games in a row, together with the 3 video games to the Dodgers. Inexplicably, the Padres’ reputedly unstoppable offense was once held scoreless for 26 consecutive innings earlier than Soto hit his first house run in his new house within the fourth inning on Tuesday night time towards San Francisco.
With a crew this gifted, it’s simple to write down off this type of streak as a blip that will probably be a far off reminiscence come October. That roughly trust is made simple because of Soto, whose enthusiasm has already made an impact at the crew. Manager Bob Melvin describes him as “a ball of energy” and Machado has spotted how Soto makes certain to high-five the opposite outfielders on the finish of each and every inning.
Soto’s positivity can rival his otherworldly manufacturing: Back in 2019, his first complete season in Washington, he despatched again a prototype of what would turn out to be his first big-league bobblehead doll. It wasn’t smiling.
“I like my smile,” Soto mentioned within the Padres’ dugout this week. “I want people to remember Juan was a happy guy. I don’t want people to remember me as a mad guy or as a guy who was always angry. I have good personality, I think. I like to be happy, I like really good energy, that’s what I want to give to the people. I want to give good vibes, good energy.”
Nothing feeds just right power like luck, and Soto, who helped lead the Nationals to the 2019 World Series name, is itching for an opportunity to do the similar for San Diego.
“It’s another level,” he mentioned of enjoying on October’s huge degree. “It’s another feeling, so you want to get that taste every year, every day. For me, that year was amazing. It was incredible.”
In San Diego, a town that hasn’t ever received a name in any of the key North American males’s sports activities leagues, goals are rising. Season-ticket call for is such that, for the primary time in historical past, the Padres are bearing in mind capping them for subsequent yr. Since closing week’s buying and selling time limit, the membership already has fielded requests translating into about 1,000 extra season tickets for 2023.
“Obviously, it’s a champagne problem, but we want to make sure our season-ticket members and our new season-ticket members continue to get access to the best seating locations,” Greupner mentioned. “And we’re starting to run out of those.”
Said Hader, the hot nearer from Milwaukee: “We’ve got a good squad. I wouldn’t even call it talent anymore, it’s superstars, right?”
What the long run brings, the Padres and their town can’t wait to determine. But first, Soto will bid what indisputably will probably be an emotional farewell to D.C. this weekend.
“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later,” Soto mentioned. “We’ve got to go back there every year. I’m just going to see people, keep looking for them, keep in touch. I’ve met people that I’m going to talk to for the rest of my life. I’m not going to say goodbye. I’m just going to say see you later on down the road.”