SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres held a press conference Wednesday to officially introduce Juan Soto and Josh Bell to the organization.
Both players were acquired in a blockbuster deal before the MLB trade deadline Tuesday, with the Padres sending out several of their top prospects to the Washington Nationals, a move that signaled that the team is all-in to win a World Series.
First up to speak was Padres owner Peter Seidler, who voiced a mood of excitement that would be echoed throughout the news conference.
“It is going to be pretty darn electric in the ballpark tonight,” Seidler said.
Seidler said the trade was a special moment for the team and thanked General Manager AJ Preller for “shifting San Diego baseball for the better.”
Preller, who has a reputation as one of the most aggressive GMs in baseball when it comes to trades, thanked the Padres scouting and development group, whose efforts allowed the team to have the prospects to pull off a trade of this magnitude.
“It’s one of the biggest trades in baseball history,” Preller noted.
Preller also thanked the Nationals organization for working to find a deal that worked for both teams.
Soto, the 23-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, is one of baseball’s biggest young stars. He has won a World Series, a batting title, two Silver Sluggers and has made two All-Star appearances already in his young career.
Despite all the accomplishments, the thing that impressed Preller the most about Soto was his work ethic. He shared a story about Soto doing offseason work at Point Loma Nazarene University, fresh off being the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2018, which always resonated with Preller.
“That’s the type of guy we want in the middle of our lineup and leading our organization,” Preller said.
While Soto may have got the headlines from the deal, Preller says first baseman Josh Bell was not just a throw-in, but a key part of the deal.
“I’m pumped to get going,” Bell said. “The time is now for the Padres.”
Padres star pitcher Joe Musgrove, who recently received a contract extension, has been in contact with Bell, his former teammate, Bell said.
“Pumped” and “excited” were words Soto used throughout the news conference, who expressed his desire to chase another championship, which he says is his sole focus right now, when asked about signing with the team long term.
“I just got here right now … I am just focused on this year and winning,” Soto said.
Soto said that he will be wearing his No. 22 jersey with the Padres after some negotiations with pitcher Nick Martinez, who has worn the number for San Diego this season. Soto said he talked Martinez down from a fishing boat to a watch in a humorous exchange.
Another funny moment came when Soto was asked about what he knows about San Diego. “I don’t know much about the city, I just hear that it is 75 and sunny every day.”
Soto now joins a team with another 23-year-old Dominican superstar in Fernando Tatis Jr., who both know each other from before they were in the major leagues.
“We have a great relationship. I think it is going to be like a family,” Soto said.
With Soto, a soon-returning Tatis Jr. and MVP candidate Manny Machado, the Padres have potential to feature one of the most exciting batting lineups in the league.
“I wish good luck to the other pitchers,” Soto said.
Soto will bat second Tuesday night at Petco Park.