Juan Soto (25, San Diego Padres), one of Major League Baseball’s most recognizable sluggers, will be eligible for free agency after the 2024 season. That’s still a year and a half away, but the Philadelphia Phillies are already being eyed as a possible destination for Soto.

The New York Post reported on the 14th (KST) that “Soto is still a year and a half away from free agency, but baseball officials see Philadelphia as a likely destination for him.” “Soto has a close relationship with Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long from his time with the Washington Nationals,” the newspaper said.

Long was the Nats’ hitting coach when Soto made his major league debut in 2018. The two developed a deep trust that lasted four years in Washington through 2021. When Soto participated in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in 2021, Long was the pitcher for the batted ball. Their partnership ended in 2022 when Long moved to Philadelphia, but they remain close.

The New York Post emphasized the team’s familiarity with Soto, noting that “Philadelphia has a number of players who played in Washington, including Bryce Harper, Trey Turner and Kyle Schwarber,” and that “unlike other teams, the Phillies have had success with big free agent signings, including Harper, Zack Wheeler, Nick Castellanos and Schwarber. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is also a star collector.

“Soto in San Diego is not Soto,” said one National League scout, according to the New York Post. Some have suggested that San Diego’s distance from Soto’s native Dominican Republic may have had a negative impact on him. The Dominican Republic is a three-hour flight to the eastern border of the United States, while the western border is more than twice as long.카지노사이트

“I didn’t see that as an issue with Soto,” said San Diego head coach A.J. Preller, “except for a couple slow weeks early in the season, he’s been great. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do in the second half.”

A three-time All-Star and Silver Slugger, Soto batted .569 with 119 home runs, 358 RBI, and a .966 OPS in 565 games over four and a half years in Washington. He’s a complete hitter with accuracy, power, and vision, and at his age, he was considered the first player in history to earn a $500 million contract.

Prior to last season, the Nats offered Soto a 13-year, $350 million extension, which he graciously declined. Soto was then shipped to San Diego at the trade deadline in early August of last year, and so far this year, he’s batting 25-for-55 with 125 doubles, 21 home runs, 63 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 142 games. His batting performance has been noticeably down from his time in Washington.

This season, he’s bounced back from a slow start to hit .265 with 15 homers, 47 RBIs and an OPS of .898 in 90 games, but there’s no word yet on extension talks with San Diego. The Dodgers have a lot of big-money, long-term contracts, so they’ll have to tread carefully. If he doesn’t sign an extension before next season, he could leave San Diego and start a free-agent battle for Soto. If that happens, the Philadelphia rumors will likely become a reality.

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