Padres were ‘hellbent’ on landing Juan Soto after missing out on Max Scherzer in 2021

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The baseball world was shook on Tuesday when the San Diego Padres landed Juan Soto in one of the biggest trades in MLB history. The Washington Nationals received a great package of prospects and MLB-ready players in return for Soto, but the Padres have to be ecstatic with the deal.

One man that may be happier than most is general manager A.J. Preller, who has long had eyes for Soto.

MLB insider Jon Heyman discussed the runway leading up to the Soto trade with former MLB players Chris Decker and Tony Gwynn Jr. on this week’s episode of Audacy’s Big Time Baseball podcast.

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“I knew that Preller wanted him badly and Preller – let’s face it, Tony knows this as well as anybody – he gets what he wants. He was hellbent – I mean the other guys were trying – he was hellbent on this,” Heyman said (10:29 in player abov)e. “He was not gonna let this go without him being the one to get Soto, particularly with the Dodgers in the mix … A.J. Preller was gonna make sure that this happened for the San Diego Padres.”

Decker mentioned that the Padres may have felt a little left out after last year’s trade deadline. They were rumored to be close to acquiring Max Scherzer from the Nationals in 2021. Scherzer was ultimately dealt to the division-rival Dodgers along with Trea Turner.

The Padres weren’t going to let that happen again.

“You knew A.J. Preller was going to throw everything possible. And looking at the trade that he made, he threw everything possible,” Decker said. “Let’s be real clear. The Nats got a king’s ransom in this.”

Gwynn Jr., who now works for the Padres as a broadcaster, shed some more light on the situation.

“You can’t really talk about this deadline without setting the context of last deadline and how it went for the Padres,” Gwynn Jr. said. “I remember talking to A.J. shortly after, who was always pretty low-key, but I just got the sense in talking to him that that didn’t sit well with him. It not going the way that he wanted to. I think that didn’t sit well with him. So that was the context going in.

“Now obviously, it is not often that a generational player at the age of 23 becomes available. For the Padres, at least from my perspective, there’s clearly a window that they have. Right now. Between now and the next couple seasons they gotta figure out a way to get as deep as they can and what better what to do that than bringing Juan Soto in. Not only do you bring Juan Soto, you get some more depth with Josh Bell in that same trade. As it always is with A.J., you can’t put too many things past him.”

Gwynn Jr. agreed with Decker’s assessment that the Nationals got a “king’s ransom” for Soto, “but if you go through history and you look at these trades, it is a high likelihood that the Padres will end up with the better end of this deal when all said and done,” he said. “When you’re this close, you take that gamble. I don’t think there’s any other way to look at it.”

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