Why baseball is buzzing about Padres trading Juan Soto

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In his annual offseason gathering with the media, Scott Boras, the superagent who has made a tradition out of hyping his clients with a tapestry of puns, described this year's free agent market as a "frenzy for pitching." Seven teams, he said, had already expressed a desire to add at least two starting pitchers from a group that might be large enough to satisfy all of them. It feels far different on the hitting side. The supply there, according to some of the decision-makers present at this week's general managers meetings, doesn't seem anywhere near as pronounced as the anticipated demand.

But one of Boras' most high-profile clients could change the complexion: Juan Soto.

Boras dismissed speculation that Soto would be traded during his widely attended scrum on Wednesday morning, saying his conversations with San Diego Padres officials have led him to believe that the 25-year-old hitting savant would remain a fixture in their lineup in 2024. Later that afternoon, Padres general manager A.J. Preller talked about the possibility of exploring a contract extension leading up to his final season before free agency. But several executives and agents who spoke to ESPN were under the impression that Soto will be attainable via trade this offseason -- or, at the very least, that Preller will very much be open to the conversation.

Said one rival GM: "I don't think they have much of a choice, honestly."