San Diego Padres almost acquired Juan Soto before Fernando Tatis Jr.

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto is a 22-year-old phenom and he is set to become the next MLB star to earn a big payday. Over the course of his young career, Soto has won a World Series, Silver Slugger Award and was the National League Batting Champion last season. 

He is one of the games best hitters and when he makes contact with the ball, he hits the ball very hard. Soto is on track to become of the greatest hitters of his generation. Over his first three seasons his numbers have stood out more than his former teammate Bryce Harper. 

In 313 games, Soto has a stat line of .295/.415/.557, .972 OPS, with 69 home runs, 217 RBIs, 328 hits, 228 walks and 259 strikeouts. While Harper in 357 games had a stat line of 357 games, .272/.351/.465, .816 OPS, 55 home runs, 149 RBIs, 356 hits, 155 walks and 318 strikeouts. 

The young outfielder has been everything the Nationals had envisioned what Harper was going to become. Furthermore, Soto’s hitting coach Kevin Long has predicted that he would become one of the best players to play the game.

Soto has done nothing but produce for the Nationals since he has been in the majors. He has been what Harper was supposed to be for the Nationals. However, Nationals fans almost didn’t get to see what Soto could become in Washington. 

Soto in San Diego?

On Monday, Padres general manager  AJ Preller went on the Big Time Baseball Podcast hosted by Jon Heyman and Tony Gwynn Jr. During their 33 minute podcast, Heyman asked how the Padres almost signed Juan Soto as an international free agent. 

Back in 2015, Soto was an international free agent and the Padres were interested in the young slugger. Preller stated that the Padres were trying to sign Yoan Moncada but had they signed him, they would not have been able to spend the money on Soto. 

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. with a bat flip following a home run. / ESPN

The Padres scouts has Soto atop their list as well as Fernando Tatis Jr. Instead, the Padres turned their attention elsewhere and the Nationals swooped in and signed the coveted phenom. Moncada would wind up signing with the Red Sox and the White Sox would sign Tatis Jr. 

It All Worked Out in the End

In the end, everything has a way of working themselves out as the Padres would sign James Shields in 2015 and later on would trade him to the White Sox and land coveted prospect Fernanda Tatis Jr. 

At the time of the trade, Preller would say “It’s never easy to make a trade and trade a guy that you think a lot of in James Shields.” 

“But on the flip side, you get two players you’re really excited about — and some flexibility,” said the Padres general manager. The only young player worth being excited about just signed a 14-year, $330 million contract this past offseason with the Padres. That wasn’t a bad haul for Tatis Jr. who has only played 143 games over two big league seasons. 

Everything Happens for a Reason

In closing, had Soto signed with the Padres it could have changed the landscape of the game today. The Padres may have had no need to trade Shields to the White Sox. However, had history stayed the same, the Padres could have had Soto and Tatis Jr. in the middle of their order.

Soto will end up going on to potentially become the first $500 million player in the game. Tatis Jr. will have already been cashing his checks while Harper is still looking for his first championship in Philadelphia.

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– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)

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