Column: Padres land another bolt of excitement in San Diego by adding Juan Soto

At the now-demolished stadium that used to be the home of the San Diego Padres, summer would roll into fall, the postseason would continue without the Padres, and the local soccer team would take over the field.

And the jingle screeched and reverberated throughout Jack Murphy Stadium: San Diego Super Chargers!

Five years after the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, San Diego finally has a team worthy of that jingle. The Padres have charged fan interest with a supercharged roster.

Choose your fighters. For the Dodgers: Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman. For the Padres: Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto.

Soto is on his way to the Hall of Fame and the Padres on Tuesday agreed to accept him from the Washington Nationals. Tony Gwynn will always be Mr. Padre, but statistically, Soto gets on base more often, hits the ball out of the park more often, and exudes a similar joy.

In the space of 24 hours, the Padres renewed homeland hero Joe Musgrove’s contract, acquired All-Star closer Josh Hader and brought in Soto and Josh Bell — two of the National League’s top seven hitters by base-plus-slugging percentage.

The Chargers have never won the Super Bowl. The Padres have never won the World Series. That trade is futile — the Padres are a dozen games behind the Dodgers, three games up a wildcard berth — but it’s making a city dream.

In a short streak, Padres Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Mike Clevinger could start, with Sean Manaea and Blake Snell also available. Hader could close.

This isn’t the first time this season that the Padres have decided they need an outfielder, a left-hander. In March, they got Matt Beaty from the Dodgers for a Class A pitcher named River Ryan. In August, they tore apart their farming system to get Soto.

And good for her. Soto is 23. Ryan is 23. The well-known pitcher who got the Nationals on Tuesday, MacKenzie Gore, is 23.

Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto takes batting practice before a game against the New York Mets.

Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto does batting practice before a game against the New York Mets August 1.

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

The Padres – the padres for the small market – rank fifth in the major participating leagues. For the first time since 2004 — the year Petco Park opened — the Padres managed to sell 3 million tickets.

They give their customers what they want to see. Imagine.

And imagine this: The Baltimore Orioles, a team that was down even before Soto’s major league debut, arrived on deadline day with a winning record, 2½ games from a wildcard berth. On Tuesday, they traded All-Star closer Jorge Lopez for prospects. On Monday they traded one of their best and most popular racquets, Trey Mancini, for prospects – the best of whom will have Tommy John surgery.

Hey, fans: The Orioles are giving away a Camden Yards 30th Anniversary t-shirt this Saturday!

Trades like the Padres’ aren’t magic. The Padres laid the groundwork in 2016 when they upgraded their minor league system by beating every other team for international amateurs: $60 million total.

The Padres could deal with top prospects because they had them. The Dodgers have them.

In the 2010s, the Dodgers’ draft picks included Corey Seager, Walker Buehler, and Cody Bellinger — and in 2016 alone Will Smith, Gavin Lux, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May.

The Angels’ most prolific draft pick of the same decade: Clevinger, traded as a prospect to Cleveland for a memorable helper, Vinnie Pestano. According to WAR, the most productive pick for the Angels was outfielder Kole Calhoun, and that was 12 years ago. The Angels were all but invisible in the international amateur market.

San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr., right, celebrates with Manny Machado after a home run.

San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., right, celebrates with Manny Machado after hitting a home run against the Giants September 16 in San Francisco.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The angels could play choose your fighter game but they can’t win real games. If everyone was healthy they could field Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon against Betts, Turner and Freeman or Machado, Tatis and Soto.

The angels could have traded Ohtani. You can say they give fans who want to see them and they are right. It’s too easy to say that by trading with Ohtani, they should rebuild. Their mistakes are organizational ones, and trading Ohtani against a handful of prospects wouldn’t have solved them.

Meanwhile, there is a train station next to Angel Stadium. If you want to see some major baseball this summer, park there and hop on the Pacific Surfliner — to Union Station, where you can catch a free shuttle to Dodger Stadium, or to Santa Fe Depot in San Diego, where you can walk you can get there Petco Park.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-08-02/dodgers-padres-juan-soto-trade-san-diego-dreams Column: Padres land another bolt of excitement in San Diego by adding Juan Soto

Emma Bowman

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