Will the Padres be able to trade their way into the playoffs?
With All-Star closer Josh Hader now a Padre, and San Diego leading the list of teams chasing Juan Soto, they may be able to close the gap on LA
Milwaukee have a lot going for them. They sit atop the NL Central, three games above the Cardinals, and made a deep run in last year’s pennant race propped up largely by their pitching staff. They seem pretty confident of their position, enough to let their All-Star closer go in a trade deal.
Josh Hader is now a Padre. He has reportedly gone for reliever Taylor Rogers, right-handed starter Dinelson Lamet and prospects Robert Gasser and Esteury Ruiz. With only one year remaining before hitting free agency, Hader is one of MLB’s finest closers and although it may seem crazy for a team in such a precarious position in the National League race to let him go, it may have been the peak of what the Brewers could have gotten for him.
This deal sets Milwaukee up for the next few years to continue to field one of the best rotations in all of baseball. Over in San Diego, though, the question marks just got a little more intense.
They have managed to pick up a marquee closer, but in their pursuit of Juan Soto, they could have perhaps overplayed their hand. Their bullpen will be striking, for sure, and they will almost certainly chew away at the twelve game deficit that they have between them and the Dodgers in the ML West. But San Diego needs offensive production to make that prospect of gaining real ground a possibility.
One of the strongest negotiating positions in the Juan Soto pursuit saga, they seem like real contenders to land him. If he winds up going to the Cardinals, another of the heavily-favored teams in this race, the Padres will have certain options available to them for power-hitters and high production offensive players. But those doors will be closing very soon.
One of the dramatic devices of this trade deadline is that it seems as if the Soto deal will go down to the wire, with no guarantee that a trade will actually take place. The Nationals could simply hold onto him and deal him for bigger money in the off-season, when they will have the luxury of negotiating at a slower pace. But the fly in the ointment is that most teams are waiting to see what happens with Soto before making their moves, and this leaves the Padres in a pickle.
If Soto goes elsewhere, or nowhere, San Diego may find themselves without the time needed to trade for the kind of hitters that they need. And all of the Ohtani rumors will be ground to a halt, because the Angels won’t be rushed into that kind of deal. If Hader is the only big trade on the Padres’ list, they could probably make the playoffs, but it sure would help to have a little more time, something which is in very short supply.