Juan Soto’s first full day as a member of the San Diego Padres is going well now that he has worked out a deal with right-hander Nick Martinez.
You see, Martinez owned No. 22, the number Soto wore with the Washington Nationals before Tuesday’s blockbuster trade with the Padres.
Negotiations quickly hit choppy waters on Tuesday as Martinez sent Soto a picture of what he wanted for the number — a boat.
“When he asked me for a boat I was really shocked and surprised,” Soto said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “I thought it was kind of too much. I tried to explain to him I will get him a really nice watch.”
Said Martinez: “He’s gonna buy me something. We win the World Series, I’ll probably forget all about it. And he’s definitely a guy that can help us win the World Series.”
Soto is hoping to make the Padres a team to watch after arriving with first baseman Josh Bell for a package that includes six players — first baseman/designated hitter Luke Voit and five prospects.
The 23-year-old Soto is one of the stars of the sport and his presence quickly makes San Diego a prime World Series contender. The two-time All-Star has 119 homers and 358 RBIs in 565 games to go with a stellar .427 on-base percentage.
This season, he has 21 homers and 46 RBIs in 101 games. He is batting a career-low .246.
“Everyone knows what I’ve done,” Soto said. “I’ll give my 100 percent every day, whatever happens. I’m not telling you I’m gonna be Superman but I know every day I enter those two lines I´ll give my 100 percent and help this team.”
Soto is batting second for Wednesday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies and manager Bob Melvin has been busy writing down lineup combinations.
Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is close to returning from a wrist injury and third baseman Manny Machado is enjoying a standout campaign for San Diego.
“We have a great relationship,” Soto said of Tatis, a fellow Dominican Republic native. “We always talk to each other. … For me, just an exciting moment to be with him and Manny.”
“It’s going to be really exciting. It’s going to be really tough to go through,” Soto said of the lineup. “I wish good luck to the other pitchers.”
Soto spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Nationals and helped the team win the 2019 World Series. He allowed that it wasn’t easy to move on even though it was clear he would be traded after turning down a 15-year, $440 million deal.
“It was really tough,” Soto said. “I was really emotional in the morning with my mom. But at the end of the day, it’s a business. You have to go through it, keep fighting, keep grinding and try to win another championship.”
Soto is slated to become a free agent following the 2024 season.
Bell will be batting clean-up for the Padres in his debut. The 29-year-old is batting .301 with 14 home runs with 57 RBIs in 103 games.
Bell good-naturedly referred to himself as the throw-in in the deal, something Padres general manager A.J. Preller disputed.
“He just said it — not bad for a throw-in,” Preller said of Bell. “Not bad at all. He was not a throw-in in this deal. He’s a huge part of the trade for us … I think one thing that he wants to do (is) play in the postseason and win a World Series.”
Washington also received left-hander MacKenzie Gore, shortstop C.J. Abrams and minor league outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood and minor league right-hander Jarlin Susana in the deal.
Gore and Abrams have been viewed as San Diego’s top prospects over the past few years with Abrams rushed to the majors ahead of schedule this season due to Tatis’ injury.
–Field Level Media