After a disappointing 2023 Major League Baseball season, it seems increasingly likely the Padres will deal away Juan Soto, and it could happen as soon as next week’s winter meetings.

San Diego already lost Nick Martinez in free agency to the Cincinnati Reds. And Blake Snell, Michael Wacha, Seth Lugo and Josh Hader likely will depart, too.

The Padres went all in last season to chase a World Series but fell flat on their face and missed the postseason. The heavy investment was unprecedented for the small-market club and trading away Soto would help balance the team’s payroll.

There will be multiple teams interested; the Boston Red Sox possibly might get in on trade talks. The New York Yankees reportedly are linked to the All-Star outfielder, but the sides “were far apart on a deal,” according to The Athletic on Friday.

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“From the Yankees, the Padres’ targets include Clarke Schmidt, who had a 4.64 ERA in 159 innings last season, and Michael King, who is a sell-high candidate after producing a 1.88 ERA in eight starts at the end of the season,” The Athletic wrote. “The Yankees currently view King as part of their 2024 rotation, but he also is proven as a quality multi-inning reliever.”

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The Athletic added San Diego wants “a big, multi-player return for Soto,” so it’s unlikely a prospect haul would be enough to entice the Padres. Trent Grisham reportedly was suggested to the Yankees along with Soto.

The Blue Jays will be one of several teams in talks with San Diego, according to The Athletic. Toronto also reportedly is interested in signing Shohei Ohtani, joining the Red Sox in their potential pursuit of the two-way star. The Athletic noted those who lose out on the Ohtani sweepstakes could come in with better offers for San Diego to chase Soto.

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“From the Blue Jays, the Padres could seek a package including one or more pitchers from a group that includes top prospect Ricky Tiedemann, Bowden Francis and Alek Manoah,” The Athletic wrote. “The Jays, like other clubs, would be concerned about paying Soto $30 million-plus for one season, then likely losing him as a free agent. But they are under pressure to win.”

Toronto made the postseason for a second-straight year, but it also was swept in the wild-card round in consecutive seasons. The Blue Jays still are seeking their first World Series since 1993, and with the Red Sox and Yankees looking to improve after finishing at the bottom of the American League East, the pressure to keep up could force Toronto’s move.

Manoah fell off a cliff last season, and the right-hander even struggled in his minor-league starts.

A three-team deal could be an option for the Padres, according to The Athletic. But any team that does trade for Soto will have to then negotiate a new long-term deal for the slugger.

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