Nightengale: Giants need Juan Soto 'as much, if not more, than anybody else'


AJ Preller is said to be comfortable entering the season with Juan Soto, who will be a free agent next offseason, on the Padres roster. If he changes course though, one MLB insider believes the Giants more than anybody needs to swing a deal for the slugger.

Soto is entering his final year of arbitration, where it’s likely he’ll end up landing a salary north of $30 million for the 2024 season. An extension before or during the season all but certainly won’t happen for the Scott Boras- represented Soto, who is one of the best hitters in the game. It’s partly for that reason the Nationals moved him to San Diego at the 2022 trade deadline.

Thus far, the addition of Soto hasn’t helped pushed the Padres over the hump. They got pummeled by the Phillies in the 2022 NLCS before woefully underachieving this past season and missing the playoffs. Preller reportedly tried to persuade ownership to let San Diego retain Soto until at least the 2024 trade deadline.

Whether that’s the route he goes remains to be seen, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale told Audacy’s Barreled Up  podcast that the Giants’ struggles to land stars in free agency ratchets up the need to land someone like Soto in a trade.

“I could see (the Yankees), I could see the San Francisco Giants, perhaps the Cubs. The Giants need to sell tickets, they can’t get stars," Nightengale said. "Missed out on (Giancarlo) Stanton years ago and (Bryce) Harper, and on and on. Aaron Judge a year ago. So, they need him as much, if not more, than anybody else. The Yankees will be in play too. Not too many teams can afford a $33-32 million contract plus give up prospects. I think you have only two or three teams realistically bidding on Soto.”

The Giants’ farm system is regarded as middle of the pack, but their pursuit of players like Judge shows a willingness to spend. Committing money to a free agent is a different beast than parting with a treasure trove of prospects and committing a bunch of money to one player, but if San Francisco is insistent on getting back on track, that might have to be the path.

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