AJ Preller, Mike Rizzo Discuss Juan Soto Trade – MLB Trade Rumors

AJ Preller, Mike Rizzo Discuss Juan Soto Trade - MLB Trade Rumors

We are a week removed from one of the greatest hits in MLB history, the deal that sent Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the nationals to the priests for five young players and a first baseman Luke Voit. ESPN’s Jeff Passan a long look into the process that ultimately led to the deal, in a piece that’s worth reading in full.

A trade for Soto seemed incomprehensible about a month before the deadline, with Washington general manager Mike Rizzo categorically stating that the club would not deal him. That was before Soto passed on a 15-year, $440MM extension that apparently represented the Nationals’ final offer. At that point, Rizzo and his staff reversed course and turned their attention to the trade market. Passan writes that the Nationals have identified the Padres, Dodgers, Yankees, Cardinals, Mariners, Rays, Rangers and Blue Jays as a preliminary list of teams with the kind of young talent to make a deal.

According to Passan, the Nats whittled that down to a trio of the Cardinals, Dodgers and Padres by the final week of July. With St. Louis reportedly reluctant to include Dylan Carlson in a package that also included some top prospects, Los Angeles and San Diego became the final two. Passan conveys that San Diego and Washington’s superiors really gathered momentum late in the evening of August 1, the night before the trade deadline. A late entrant to discussions was the inclusion of Bell, one of the top rental bats available, to convince the Friars to part with a towering 18-year-old pitcher. Jarlin Susana. By midnight on August 1-2, Passan reports, the parties agreed on the package of young talent who would return to Washington pending a review of medical records the next morning. (Passan adds the humorous anecdote that San Diego president of baseball operations AJ Preller then continued working deep into the night on additional trade possibilities before falling asleep mid-conversation with a member of his scouting staff).

While the initial iteration of the agreement included Eric Hosmer heading to Washington, the first baseman exercised his limited no-trade protection to block the deal. San Diego pivoted and traded Hosmer to the Red Sox, and Passan writes that San Diego and Washington each previously agreed that one of Voit or Wil Myers could take Hosmer’s place in the event he refused to waive his no-trade clause.

We did as well as we could,” Rizzo opined to Passan. “You lost a Hall of Famer at 23, but I think we accelerated our resume. When you look at the alternative, it would be the same story this winter. If you don’t trade him now, what do you do in the offseason? I give the ownership credit of the priests. And I give AJ credit because he’s not afraid to do that kind of business. And I give our owner credit.

Preller went into detail about his team’s involvement in the Soto discussions during an appearance this afternoon on The show, a podcast from the New York Post with Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman. The San Diego baseball operations leader confirmed that the Nationals identified their system as one of a handful that could support a hit of this magnitude early in the process.

We could say that we will be one of the final teams if we want to participate,” Preller told the Post. “You never know if you will be the a team It’s like anything else, there’s going to be two or three teams that all have really strong packages. … There was just a lot of debate and discussion for us over the next few weeks about the right thing to do, the right players to waive.

After the sides came close to agreeing on the prospective return, the onus fell on San Diego to push the deal across the finish line, Preller explains. “In the end, you have to decide. Do you want to do this or not? That’s kind of the gut check at the end when the Nats put it on you: ‘this five or six-player package gets it done.’ That’s when you get back in the room with your little group of people and (owner) Peter Seidler. It’s on the table if we want to do this. And if we don’t do it, eventually we have to live with the fact that he might go somewhere else. … At the end of the day, you have to make that decision.

Obviously, Preller and his group decided to pull the trigger, although he indicated that the club was not narrowly focused on a Soto deal. Preller confirmed to the Post that San Diego was involved in discussions with the Angels about Shohei Ohtani. He said there is some but not all overlap in the young players of interest to both Washington and Anaheim but indicated the Angels ultimately did not want to part with Ohtani. Heyman reported last week that Angels owner Arte Moreno would not sign off on an Ohtani trade while Mike Trout is on the injured list.

Padres fans and/or anyone interested in more details on San Diego’s trade negotiations will want to check out Preller’s interview with Heyman and Sherman in full. Preller also discussed the need to balance a roster with stellar talent and depth, the acquisition of an All-Star reliever. Josh Hader of the Brewers, plans for rehabilitation star Fernando Tatis Jr.and the struggles of his team against the evasives among other subjects.

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