As the Padres look to cut costs during the 2023 offseason, moving star Juan Soto remains an intriguing possibility. And, according to one MLB insider, the scenario appears to be a very likely outcome ahead of next season.
ESPN’s Buster Olney declared Friday that the 25-year-old Soto, who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2025, will not only be dealt to a new team, but the deal would “100%” occur prior to Opening Day on March 8, 2024.
“Absolutely, 100% he’s going to be traded before the season,” Olney said during an appearance on ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show.
ESPN’s Buster Olney says San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto will definitely be traded before Opening Day.
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Olney’s startling claim adds to the mounting speculation surrounding Soto amid his uncertain future in San Diego, just a year removed from the blockbuster trade that brought the former Nationals star to the city in August 2022.
In January 2023, Soto inked a one-year contract worth $23 million in order to avoid salary arbitration. His contract figure in 2024 stands to increase up to $33 million heading into the final year of arbitration, making him a prime trade target with the Padres reportedly seeking to shed as much as 20% of their payroll in the months ahead.
Should San Diego ultimately move on from Soto, the 2019 World Series champion will likely have many suitors looking to secure his services after slashing .275/.410/.519 with 35 homers and 109 RBI in 162 games last season.