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How Padres' Pursuit of Juan Soto Is Impacted by Reported Josh Hader Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 1, 2022

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Diego Padres have already made the biggest deal on the penultimate day before the MLB trade deadline expires at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, and they still might have enough left over to reel in the biggest fish on the market.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Monday that the Padres are acquiring Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers for Taylor Rogers, Robert Gasser, Esteury Ruiz and Dinelson Lamet.

Passan explained how the cost to get Hader may allow San Diego to continue pursuing Washington Nationals star Juan Soto:

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

That said: The Padres didn’t give up any of the main prospects they’ve been talking about in myriad other deals. C.J. Abrams, Robert Hassell III, James Wood and Jackson Merrill all remain, as does MacKenzie Gore. Could the Padres really pull off a Juan Soto-Josh Hader double?

From the Nationals' perspective, Rogers likely wasn't a prized asset in a hypothetical Soto deal—if he was discussed at all in those conversations. The left-handed closer turns 32 in December and is due to be a free agent in the offseason. He wasn't going to help a last-place team for what could only amount to half a season.

Lamet has one more year of team control in 2023, but he's struggling mightily on the mound in his first full season as a reliever. The right-hander has a 9.49 ERA in 12.1 innings. As with Rogers, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which the Nationals insisted on getting Lamet as part of any package for Soto.

Gasser and Ruiz, meanwhile, sit seventh and 28th, respectively, in MLB.com's ranking of the Padres' top prospects. Neither is the crown jewel of San Diego's farm system.

Mark Feinsand @Feinsand

So the Padres add Hader without giving up any of their top six prospects and only one from their top 20. Still plenty left in the tank for a Juan Soto deal.

Soto landing in San Diego isn't a fait accompli.

The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the Los Angeles Dodgers have reached out to Washington about a deal, while Passan laid out how the St. Louis Cardinals could put an attractive offer together.

And even for Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who arguably loves a blockbuster deal more than any other GM in MLB, the price it will take to get Soto is so high it will require a lot of deliberation.

Maybe you call Washington's bluff in the hope of either giving up less now or restarting negotiations in the winter, when the Nationals will have a little less leverage.

If Soto ultimately stays with the Nats or winds up on a different team, then it won't be because of the Hader trade. Preller deftly added an elite closer while maintaining the flexibility for another headline-grabbing swap.

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